Honest Truths About Taking Care Of A Senior Dog
Trudge along my furry little grandpaw <3
This is Toasty.
He looks like toasted white bread.
He is almost 15, nearly blind and deaf, has congestive heart failure, and maybe dementia.
And I am absolutely obsessed with him.
Recently, he somehow got out of the house and was missing until we found him alive and well in a sewer THREE WEEKS LATER. WTF Toastarini? Do you have superpowers?
After that, I decided I didn't want to do long-distance anymore and I'm finally out of the college dorm life so I asked him to move in with me. He said yes.
He was living with my family, but he wasn't getting the attention he needed there. My mom felt that he shouldn't be taken on walks or be played with because of his heart condition - she was worried about overstimulating him so she left him to sleep all day. No this is not okay no no no no no.
Honestly, it was a lot of time and energy. And Toaster Strudel was VERY frustrating at times.
Having a dog is not all furry cuddles and kisses. I took Toasty on nearly five walks every day, dutifully gave him his expensive heart medication twice daily, cleaned the pee-stained carpet, showered him with love and affection, and was exhausted every single day for weeks. Yet he still would become restless and start barking in the dead of night (probably the dementia). I wanted to try some calming supplements for dogs but learned that there is no conclusive evidence that they work and I didn't want to risk it interfering with his medication. So instead I tried swaddling him like an infant with an anti-anxiety wrap and it worked. Most of the time.
It was also a little scary.
The little wins... those outweigh everything else.
I watched my little Toastada grow stronger (but also calmer) every week. I reintroduced all his old tricks, challenged him with hidden snack games, and took him to the park. He became so energetic and playful - all he needed was to LIVE A LITTLE. And be loved a lot.
And despite his barking, whining, shitting everywhere, I was so proud of his progress. To see him a little happier and healthier each day was the most rewarding feeling ever. While I was at work all I wanted was to be cuddling him - I missed his smell. His little head. His little nose. I told you I am obsessed.
Yes, senior pets require a little more TLC. But they deserve to find their furever homes too.
Older animals at shelters make great pets, but are often the hardest to place because everyone wants a puppy. We get it, puppies are adorable but the older pets need love too! Senior pets are awesome because they're already developed and you know what you're getting - and remember, there are senior pets, and there are senior + sick pets. I was ready for ToastNasty and all the peeing, laundry, and medicine I would have to deal with - it wasn't easy, but I knew what I was getting in to. And the new home adjustment period can be a very trying time for dogs of all ages and owners, and unfortunately a lot of dogs are returned to shelters soon after being adopted because their new owners don't anticipate this. But it's so important to keep in mind that while your new dog is adjusting, you are adjusting to the new life of a dog owner too. And both of these things take time.
And just like Toasty, senior pets can be so full of life and energy once they adjust to their new lives - they just need to be given the chance!
Dogs are family. So when you adopt a dog, you are adopting family. And you can't take family back to the shelter. Like you can't take a baby back to the hospital. So do your research and go in with an open heart and mind and find the little senior dog of your dreams.