Monday, December 31, 2012

This Year at SeniorPooch: 2012

Get on your party hat. It's time to celebrate.
Today wraps up a remarkable first full calendar year for SeniorPooch.com.

It was the year that this very site got me back in touch with the rescue that saved The Mighty Boo Boo.

Our chief product reviewer, Rusty, got his paws on a variety of products this year. Even for those products that did not get a shining review, we tried to provide enough information to help you all understand if it was just a matter of taste or something else. We're looking forward to doing more of these in the new year so if you have a product that is senior dog friendly, bark back at us.

Over 3,400 different people visited the site at least once in this past year for an average visit of over one minute forty seconds. About half of those folks also became return viewers. This coming year I'm going to continue to work on reaching more folks, but also giving all of you a reason to come back again and again. What was your favorite post or feature? Was it easy to find stuff? How would you feel about a newsletter or better ways of subscribing to updates?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Merry Blue Christmas to One and All

Even Elvis couldn't have foretold that one day a "Blue Christmas" would be a positive event. The post below comes from Sheila Appleby Williams about Blue, the town he adopted, and a very special visitor he had this past week:

Santa visits Blue in Elephant Butte, New Mexico
By Sheila Appleby Williams

Santa, Blue, and elf (Phoebe)
Santa catches a photo op with Blue and pug-elf Phoebe
For over a decade, Australian Cattle dog, Blue, has been the town mascot of Elephant Butte, New Mexico — dispensing doggie love and affection to the mini retirement community since being abandoned as a puppy and “adopted” by local business owners.

The blue-eyed Aussie senior captured the hearts and headlines of the media last summer when a local ordinance prohibiting off leash canines was put into effect following a much publicized pit bull mauling fatality in the nearby town of Truth or Consequences — which threatened the freedom and safety of the 12 year old gregarious canine who formerly greeted customers and sauntered along the main street.

Adoption attempts proved disasters, which failed to keep the wandering, Blue at home—he dug his way out of yards or chewed through chain link fences and would inevitably appear at the Elephant Butte General store.

Janice Connor, owner of the Elephant Butte General Store (and now legal guardian) was asked to spearhead the town hall meeting that attracted the largest resident turn out in the city’s history (including on site coverage by a NY Times reporter).

The judge decided in Blue’s favor but Elephant Butte Mayor, Eunice Kent, over turned the decision. The battle to save Blue went to court and Albuquerque attorney, Hilary Noskin (also an Elephant Butte property owner) offered her services pro bono.

A fever pitch of supporters demanded “Save Blue “ t-shirts and a steady stream of commuters stopped at the gas station/general store to fill up their tanks and hearts and take photos of the reticent furry celebrity.

Fast forward to the Holiday Season in Elephant Butte and pet Santa, George Evanson, volunteered to visit the canine who (the case was decided in the fido’s favor with provisions that included an electric fence and collar-both donated) is happily stationed in front of the General Store but restricted to the premises and unable to travel as he has a vehicle phobia.

On hand to share in the special spotlight was, Phoebe Rose, former LA celebrity pug and now a resident of neighboring, Truth or Consequences.

Ms. Connor spoke about the love that Blue continues to give and inspire. Local and on-line Friends of Blue send cash donations for his upkeep. Ms. Connor is happy to give back to the community that has given so much and channels the funds into pet charities and for needy animals. Blue’s situation has inspired her to lobby successfully to improve local animal service laws.

Photo credit: Sheila Appleby Williams

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to You and Your Senior Pooches

Rusty wishes you a Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our friends all over the world.

If you're looking for a new canine companion this year you can search online for your local animal services shelter or rescue.

Thanks again for your support. We've been blessed to have found so many of you who share our convictions in 2012. Let's keep moving forward the cause of senior dogs in 2013.

Peace, love, and wagging tails,
Rusty and Jeff

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bark Out Loud and Wag Your Happy Tail

Maple, a senior pitbull, and an admirer

There was plenty of great news last week's Bark Out Loud with four senior dogs going to their forever homes. Now Maple gets to go home.

Maple was one of San Diego Animal Services longest held residence. After over a year, an agreement was made with the Prairie Pit Bull Rescue to send Maple to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In true, Maple spirit, she went along happily where some lucky family adopted her.

The picture above was taken and really shows the Maple that many San Diego rescue volunteers know and love. Check out more of Maple's story from the folks that help to get her that new home.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of Senior Pooch 2012 - Part 2

And now for the thrilling conclusion of:

The Best of Senior Pooch 2012

Rusty and foster dad, Larry

July 2012 - Take the Long Shot - Adopt the Unadoptable Dog
I took on the topic of unadoptable (or less adoptable as they're also known) pets and all of the challenges that make them unique as part of a blog hop. This includes plenty of links to other articles from other pet bloggers on all manner of rescue related topics.

Two senior dachshunds enjoying some cuddle time
August 2012 - A Small Breed Rescue Making A Big Difference: Furever Dachshund Rescue
Laura Coulombe knows rescue and with a growing organization of over 200 volunteers, it's worth your time to hear from her first hand on how she got where she is today. She also covers the benefits of adopting senior dachshunds.

September 2012 - When Saying Goodbye is the Right Thing to Do
This isn't the easiest topic to talk about, but we cover how to reduce the stress during this very difficult time, including several other resources that may help.

Ann Pollock of Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego (Center) with new doggie parents
October 2012 - What Makes a Great Doggie Foster Parent with Rescue Powerhouse, Ann Pollock
Fostering and small dogs seemed to take center stage this year, with superstar, Ann Pollock taking center stage for this interview. If you're going to read only one article on fostering on this site, this is the one.

November 2012 - Bark Out Loud for Your People
We went deep on interviews this year and hope to do the same in 2013. Check out some of my favorites in this post.

December 2012 - Give Homeless Pets a Place to Rest Their Heads by Fostering this Holiday Season
The holiday season brings unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to pets. In this article we give voice to homeless pets and what you can do to make their lives a little easier during this stressful time of the year.

That's it for now. Whether you're new to SeniorPooch.com or only an occasional reader, I'd encourage you to check these out, as well as those from Part 1 and let me know what you think.


Happy Holidays and Belly Rubs to you all!


--Rusty and Jeff

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best of Senior Pooch 2012 - Part 1

It's been an amazing ride so far here at SeniorPooch.com. The posts that follow cover just some of my favorites from the first half of the year and span interviews, events, calls to action, heartwarming stories of rescue, and even a recipe thrown in for good measure.

Teaching your senior dogs the joys of training is key to a happy life for both of you. The Canine Coach, Eugenia Vogel, shares some of her knowledge on the topic. It's no surprise that this remains one of our most read posts.

Boo Boo, my first senior pup on day 1 of our adventures
February 2012 - An Inconvenient Dog
There are a million reasons why you could throw out that faithful dog of yours when the burden of age wears them down. This post covers my personal take on the subject and how to do right by your senior in the face of challenges.


The elusive Tigger-Dog of Southern California stalks his prey
March 2012 - The Good, The Old, and the Ugly - The 17th Annual Ugly Dog Contest
Out the door I went to cover the 17th Annual Ugly Dog Contest in Del Mar, CA. There were really only a couple of dogs that were contenders for the aforementioned prize in this long standing contest. I was happy to see such a strong showing by the senior dog population putting their best paw forward.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bark Out Loud for Your Pet Foster Families

Woody, a senior hound mix was adopted by his foster mom

Fosters keep hope alive for homeless pets who would otherwise languish in the stressful environment of shelters. Sometimes it's that very break from the shelter chaos that allows the dog to regain enough of their former sparkle so that others, looking for a great dog, can recognize their brilliance.

Keep in mind the very special nature of the adopters of each of these senior dogs.

Woody, likely over ten years old, is not one of those cases. Despite being a long time shelter resident, Woody always put his best paw forward when meeting new people and animals. After a long time in the San Diego North County Shelter, he got a foster mom who spoiled him rotten and was ultimately adopted by a long time animal lover who all of the folks in my rescue know. I walked Woody several times at adoption events and he's the perfect type of senior dog: relaxed and reclined much of  the time, but ready to spring into action whenever called into action.

Sasha, a senior red shepherd mix, finds a home
There are worse things than failing being a "failed foster" to an animal, when failing means deciding to adopt that animal permanently.

Our girl Sasha, over ten, is the victim of a "failed foster", but don't worry, it's not a fatal as it sounds. A "failed foster" is a situation where the animal's foster parent decides to keep the animal. Sasha has been living in a great home, going to the park every day, and getting to play with her  new furry sister on a regular basis.

In regards to that furry sister, I've seen them both playing together, and despite having at least seven years on her younger sibling, Sasha is almost always the instigator of their play sessions.

Just ask Brogan. It doesn't get any better than being rescued, cured, and adopted.
Brogan, seven years old, was pulled by The Dog Squad Rescue several months ago after being dumped weak and suffering from a massive skin infection by his former owner.

The rescue reached out to the Corgi Meetup group, where a foster with another Corgi was found. Brogan turned into another failed foster and everyone involved couldn't be happier.

Although Brogan and his brother, Chunk couldn't be more different, they bonded immediately. Brogan is steadily regaining his strength and spends plenty of time chasing his brother around the house these days when he isn't lounging in his favorite chair.

Star (sorry, no picture yet), seven years old, was fostered after meeting her at an adoption event. This is an important one, because people see "adoption" at events and don't think to ask other ways that they can help. Stars parents have a great home and she now lives with them and her furry brother, also in the six to seven year old range.

There are so many great folks throughout the world that are doing the right things by our senior dog population that I'd like to say, "Thank you" on behalf of our canine companions. This site was started to bring people like us together, so I'm interested in hearing your own stories of older dogs whether they be fosters, adoptees, or just long time family members whose silver chins great you as you walk through the door everyday. Check out the Contact Us page for this site or email me to share your own tales of senior dogs. All of the readers here would love to hear more.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chasing Away the Lonely Dog Separation Anxiety Blues

You're late for work again.

Dog walked. Briefcase packed. Iron off.

With a jangle of your keys and a "See ya later, pal" to your favorite mutt, you are out the door.

Ten steps later, it begins...

The howling.

Separation anxiety can creep back into your dog's life even as they enter their older years if you are not thoughtful about your "walking out the door" habits.

You may wish to set up a wireless camera to determine the serious of the issue first. This helps in particular if your living arrangements are in close proximity to others like a condo or apartment, where you can confirm if complaints of "your dog has been barking all day" are valid or have been addressed by the steps below.

The most effective way to combat separation anxiety is to not spend too much time on rituals that telegraph that you're leaving:

  • Jingling your keys 
  • Saying "good bye"
  • Running out the door in a hurry
All of these may not be in a big deal, but to a dog that just wants to be by your side and/or is nervous about being alone, they can very well trigger that "don't leave me!" response that you're trying to avoid. 

Next, don't change the conditions of the house, just because they're home alone. Leaving a radio or TV on doesn't replace human contact, but it does make a difference over a house that is dead silent all day. Some experts recommend not feeding your dog right before you leave, which goes towards the previous point on not changing conditions, however, I've had a lot of success using a Kong Wobbler (a food dispensing toy) to feed my older dog when I'm gone. He can spend a half hour chasing the ball around the living room, and by the time he's done, he's ready for a nap.

Finally, don't make too big a deal about coming home. This was a game changer for me. Originally I'd get down and embrace my dog as he ran up to me and wept at my coming home. It turns out that I was just reinforcing exactly what he was thinking according to some experts in that I'm better off (and safer) with him than on my own. Establishing that you're capable of getting things done without your dog gives them comfort to understand that you are the boss. I find that waiting a few minutes before greeting my dog after a long day helps to dial back the anxiety while still giving him 100% of the hugs that he's earned for being a good boy all day albeit a few minutes later.


The video that follows covers other tips and thoughts on the topic that may be helpful:




Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bark Out Loud for Your Shorties


Shelby (pictured right) has got it all.

Looks.

Personality.

And all the right moves.

She's been a long time foster with ARRF, here in San Diego. I caught up with her at an ARRF event last month and she still has the same little smile you see above. She's great with other dogs from what I could tell. Check out her profile on the Senior Pooch Adoptions Page.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Keep It Simple Treats: Blue Buffalo Chicken Jerky

Rusty goes in for the kill on a Blue Buffalo Chicken Jerky Treat
I always prefer simple to complex when it comes to what I eat. If I can't digest the words that describe the ingredients of a product, why should I expect my stomach to do so?

Same thing for my elder pup, Rusty. Rusty loves treats in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few that he goes nuts over. Note Exhibit A: the picture to the left.

I'd apologize for the blurry nature of the picture, except that the technology hasn't been invented that capture the speed of the predator when it's about to fall upon its quarry.

The quarry in this case is Blue Buffalo Trail Treats All Natural Grain-Free Chicken Jerky. Note how his eyes never leave his prey even when it's in his grasp. No fingers were lost during this experiment, but we're professionals. Don't try this at home. (OK... you can try it at home, but we can't be responsible for the wagging tails that follow.)

The great news is the reduced number of ingredients are easy to digest. Chicken, Dried Cane Molasses, and Salt. That's it.

Like all reviews for food that we do, we wait to make sure that everything was digested properly. Taste is one thing. The health and well being of your canine pal is another. We take both seriously here. Like people, your pooch's stomach may vary from mine, so start off slow with the treats. They're not a replacement for food or affection no matter what Rusty says.

One out of one dogs named Rusty agree: Give me another chicken jerky treat!

These treats are made and packaged in the United States.

Disclaimer: We received a free sample of these from our friends at Chewy.com, formerly Mr. Chewy. The results are strictly my and Rusty's honest opinion. When we don't give a positive review I try to explain why. In this case, I think we found a new training treat for the old man.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Give Homeless Pets a Place to Rest Their Head by Fostering This Holiday Season

Suri was a foster for a while before finding her forever home.
I'm not an advocate of giving pets as gifts over the holidays, however fostering is a different story.

Taking in a homeless pet over the holidays gives a homeless animal a chance at a semi-normal life during a season when the shelters are most strained from live "gifts" of dogs and cats are coming in from owners who didn't understand what they were getting themselves into.

That's not you though.

You're different. Animals with a bow around their necks are not the same as a football, toaster, or new set of slippers under the tree. They're a responsibility.

Unlike using an animal for a gift that you aren't sure if the receiver is going to like or even be willing or able to take care of the day after Christmas, as a foster, you can make sure that your new charge has everything that they need.

You're probably asking yourself: How to get started?

The best thing that you can do is check in with your local rescues. They have experience working with foster parents and can let you know if there is one that you can help out and for how long. Keep in mind that not all rescues do temporary foster programs, however you can always ask. My advice would be to look at your living situation and see what you can live with and if you are OK with taking in a homeless animal that would otherwise spend its holidays sleeping on a cold cement floor.

Shelters are another source of education on the subject, but in my experience, they're looking solely for long term placement of animals, so keep that in mind. A rescue professional might spend a bit more time with you if they think you're a good foster candidate and are really looking to help.

My friend, Sabrina Wilkerson, whose former foster, Suri is pictured above is a guru when it comes to fostering homeless animals. She's part of the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego where she's responsible for their foster program. Although she was only a friend of a friend at the time when Peppy (pictured below) needed a new home after her owner passed, it was Sabrina who made the connections to get Peppy fostered.

Peppy, a 14 year old chi-weenie

If you read her stuff over at her new Facebook Page, Foster Mamas, you'll probably see how fostering has changed her life. Her photo journal of her adventures in fostering represents all the good that can come when one person (actually two, her boyfriend Jonathan is also very into fostering) stands up to make a difference. If you need an extra smile today, check out her page when you get a chance.

Photo credits: Sabrina Wilkerson

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bark Out Loud and Then Take a Nap

A sleeping Boo Boo dog - a senior flat-coated retriever

It's been a quiet month here at SeniorPooch.com, but a busy one for me personally. 

Just to mix things up a bit, I posted a few less posts to see how the readership would react. We still get pretty decent traction for a blog that is only 1.5 years old, but it looks like you all like us best when we're posting more than one article per month. As always, if you have any thoughts on this or tales of senior dogs to share, I'm happy to share their story with the hundreds of unique visitors that we have every month. 

One burning question that I have is: Would you like to see new posts on the weekend?
I ask because it looks like there are a number of folks that like to read the Friday posts on Saturday, so I'm wondering if you're all just catching up, or just have a bit more time and would like to see something new as well.

I've spent more than a little of my time working with The Dog Squad working events, maintaining their website, and most recently being appointed Secretary on their Board of Directors. It's all pretty miraculous that one dog (The Mighty Boo Boo, pictured above) would change my life to this extent. 

This weekend I'll be dedicating one day this weekend to a number of Dog Squad activities, including going to see Charlie who came back to us recently. Charlie remains a champ of epic proportions, but needs a dog-only home with a family that understands that he needs some extra love and attention to get over his insecurity issues. While he was with a great family for a short time, it ultimately turned out not to be the relationship that either were looking for, and so Charlie is back with The Dog Squad looking for the right people for him.

I've been working on some new articles and have some design changes to go into the site coming within the next week. 

I'll end this post with a heart-warming video from Iowa, where a senior dog lost for four years was reunited with his owner after being shown on a local TV station as the pet of the week. WARNING: This one is a tear-jerker in the best way possible.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hands-on Massaging of Your Older Dog

Sometimes it takes a hands-on bonding experience to get through the day for you and your senior dog.

Massaging your older arthritic dog is not a cure by any stretch, but can make them feel a little more comfortable. I first learned about this practice with my first older dog who had arthritis and hip dysplacia. Much of what helped him during those achy rainy days were meds, but often those take time to act and were not the only tool I employed. Massaging is most effective as a way to stimulate circulation.

As a dog's skin is more sensitive than ours, it's best to wash your hands beforehand. It's probably also a good idea to do so afterwards, just in case your dog has a skin condition or likes rolling around in the dust (or mud or brushing up under bushes to scratch his or her butt).

Start off touching your dog in the areas you're going to massage to make sure they're OK with what you're doing. Run your hands over different areas to get a better understanding of tight spots. All dogs are different, so I didn't focus on the touching phase. It was only later that I learned about it in my research, but it makes a lot of sense. This gives you time to figure out if there are any places that you shouldn't be working and gives you the opportunity to find any new or changing lumps and bumps. If there's any pain, discomfort or different sized nodules that you find, it's best to check in with your veterinarian if you're concerned. For now it's best to move onto other areas of your achy pal's body and not massage any painful areas.

Don't perform deep tissue massages on your dog. He isn't a human and even if you have human massaging experience, you should NOT assume that the benefits are going to be the same. You shouldn't be doing any more than touching just enough to put enough pressure to feel the resistance of the skin.

There was one particular technique that helped out my old dog quite a bit was one that I found online (and of course cannot find now). In a nutshell, you run your fingers down either side of their spine. Don't press on the spine. Continue to run you fingers down from the top based of the spine to the base of their tail.

Like any health related article, check with your vet first. These are steps that have worked for me, but there's no warranty saying that they're the right thing for you and yours. For your reference I'm including a couple interesting articles that both backed up my own experiences, as well as added a new thought or two to this post.

Related articles:
How to Massage an Arthritic Dog
Dog Arthritis Pain Relief: How to Massage Your Dog

Monday, November 12, 2012

Coping with Sudden Changes in Your Senior Dog's Behavior

Boo Boo lounging around contemplating the meaning of life
"Boo Boo doesn't play." 

It's a line I used many times to describe my old friend's standoffish behavior with younger dogs. 

With dogs of equal "speed", he was always fine. Shy at first, but when push came to shove, he'd manage a few short wags before moving on his way when meeting another dog. 

I got him when he was already a senior pooch, so there's little telling what his younger days were like or it was his ailments that made him who he was or his time in the shelter.

That said, in hindsight there were signs that I could have used to better predict that his arthritis and hip dysplasia were becoming more troublesome. 

The first was his change in sleeping accommodations. Where he originally liked to sit in his big fluffy bed, he began to sleep more and more on the floor or on an older, flatter bed that I had in my back room. Towards the end he had issues standing up. The depth of the bed was obviously a chore for him to navigate. 

This tracks with his feelings about younger dogs who would try to re-introduce him to jumping around. Since he couldn't get out of the way of the many 20 lb. puppies, he hide and get just nasty enough to keep them from getting to close if we were unsuccessful in keeping our distance.

He would also tend to walk along straight lines in the pavement. Straight lines with no obstructions are predictable. They're easy to use as a guide. His eyesight was decent and never changed from what I could tell, but at night he used to have problems with shadows. From further away he'd sometimes approach shadows carefully when we were in a location that he wasn't familiar. Once or twice he stepped to the side to avoid them, walking sidelong into a car bumper. 

For dogs that are losing their eyesight, I'd recommend not making many changes around the house. Rearranging the furniture is going to take some time to get familiar. Expect that they're going to slow down until they figure out alternative ways of navigating.

A loss of hearing is another issue that may cause an otherwise calm passive dog to act schizophrenic. If a dog can't hear, it's going to be surprised if you walk up on them from behind, even if you've done it a million times before. Take the time to work out hand gestures to replace verbal commands. 

Slow down, have patience, and take your time getting reacquainted with your senior dog all over again. They'll appreciate the extra attention.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bark Out Loud for Your People



This Bark Out Loud is dedicated to the folks who get out there and make a difference for dogs that aren't their own. Above we have our friend, Larry Abgarian, who has not only contributed many  pictures to SeniorPooch.com, but also rescued and fostered his share of dogs. My pal Rusty, also pictured above, wouldn't be with us today if it weren't for Larry. He's just one of many interviews that we've had over the past year and a half.

Becky White is another canine superhero, who, as a dog walker/boarder in Toronto, Canada, who I met because of a particular article she wrote about senior dogs. Over the months we've become friends and I can tell you that I've learned a heck of a lot about what makes a great pet advocate blog from her example.

The first interview where I put out a call to folks that I didn't know came from Eugenia Vogel, whose interview on training set the standard for the interviews that we continue to post here today and reinforced how we can help build a happier dog, by just being a bit more consistent and thoughtful in the things we say and do.

There are many more, but the last one I'll call out here is an interview with Melissa Lisbon, who is one of the founders of the San Jose Animal Advocates. Melissa's focus on educating the public about homeless animals and supporting the shelter and rescue communities highlights how someone with a will to make a difference can pull together the right team and change the world one small dog or kitten at a time.

I'd encourage anyone who's interested in reading more interviews to click through on the Interview link to get first hand accounts of animal advocacy in your community.

I'm honored to share a mission with you all.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bark Out Loud Because You're Not Alone

Peppy, a chihuahua mix, is still available for adoption

Sometimes the world can be a scary place when we're alone. Lost and by ourselves we struggle for meaning and latch onto hope to justify hanging on when things are at their most perilous. 

There are times when Hope and her sister, Fear, are so intertwined that we can't see one without the other.

Have you been there and done that?  OK now step back and recognize that they're both in your head and neither are real. Step outside of yourself for a while and focus on helping others. Get out there and call your local rescue or shelter and see if you can foster a dog in need this holiday season. 

You can't help from changing when becoming part of something larger than yourself. The door is open, but no one else can walk through it for you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rainy Weather Achy Bones Blues

Boo Boo, a very sweet and sleepy flat-coated retriever
I didn't need to open the door to know that there was a chill in the air, I could already tell from just watching my senior dog rock back and forth once to get momentum enough to stand.

Just like people with arthritis, dogs exhibit some of the same symptoms with this affliction.

A day or two before and after it rained, I knew that we were going to need a little extra time and help getting going in the morning. The best preventative medicine for my old dog (and yours) is enough exercise to help them maintain their muscle tone. As dogs get older muscle mass decreases, so it's important to not skimp on the exercise for as long as they'll have it. Even if stairs are no longer part of their regimen, hit the slopes by traversing a path or two with gradual inclines and decline to work out all of their muscle groups. Replace a couple of longer walks with more shorter walks to make sure that they have enough time to relieve themselves properly, as well as meeting and greeting the neighbors.

Keeping their weight down is another important factor. The less pounding away at their arthritic joints the better.

I can tell you from experience that the rainy season is a rough time for your older, arthritic dog, but it is manageable. Check with your veterinarian to see what they can do to help alleviate the pain. There are a number of meds out there that will help take the edge off, but since they vary in effectiveness, sometimes according to breed, it's best that you work with a professional in selecting the one that is right for your senior pooch.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bark Out About the Dangers of Chocolate this Halloween

Sasha in her caterpillar costume at a San Diego dog rescue event

Whether the kids are bringing home treats this Halloween or you have some set out for trick-or-treaters, make sure they're kept out of reach of your pooch, in particular those treats of the chocolate variety. 

Chocolate is toxic to dogs. Period. I think we all know someone who feels like just a little bit of chocolate is a treat for a dog. It isn't.

Chocolate for humans, Yes. For dogs, No - Never.

Our digestive systems are different and as researched, the reason why every vet that you'll meet will tell you that chocolate is toxic is due to a dog's digestive system taking much longer to digest chocolate than humans. Since chocolate contains caffeine, this prolonged exposure which goes on for hours vs. the minutes that it takes to work through a human's system, can cause nausea, diarrhea, and cardiac arrest. This goes for dogs of all ages, but why put anymore strain on your older dog's heart that they would get with a few extra moments of exercise. 

Do the responsible thing for both of you and just say no to chocolate.

For more information, check out this WebMD article:
Most of us have heard that chocolate can make dogs sick. But how serious is the risk?

Our cover dog this week is Sasha, who is sporting her caterpillar costume. I was lucky enough to be Sasha's handler at an adoption event last week. This picture was taken after we were off taking a break to roll around in the grass.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Crunch Time: Treat Your Dog with Carrots at Meal Time

It might not seem natural to feed a dog vegetables, but don't tell that to my canine compadre.

Replacing some of his more "empty calorie" biscuit treats with organic baby carrots has been exactly what the doctor ordered when it came to finding ways to bringing his weight down, without affecting the volume of his meals. I've tried just reducing the amount of food I put in his bowl and can tell you from experience that Rusty knows exactly how much kibble by count and weight that he's expecting. If I'm coming up short in either his morning or afternoon meals, he's sure to lead me back to his bowl, stare at it, and then look back to me to let me know that I'm not getting away with anything.

I need to provide a disclaimer that the first time that I tried to introduce carrots as a treat, it was unsuccessful. The baby carrot that I presented as a treat was snapped up, but before the chewing began, he put it down at my feet.

How did I change his mind?

I started eating raw carrots a bit more regularly myself. Before you could say "Rusty See, Rusty Do" he was waiting by the refrigerator for me to get a few carrots for him at snack time.

Like anything we eat, we learned that too much of anything isn't good for you. At 80+ lbs we found out that more than five baby carrots a day will soften his stool a bit. Each dog's metabolism is different, so your mileage may vary on this point, but I'd recommend starting with one a day and working your way up from there slowly. The point isn't to replace your dog's food with vegetables of any kind, but more to help reduce calories and add a bit of crunchy fiber to the mix.

To get Rusty's weight down, I'm replacing some of his food with a like volume of baby carrots several days per week. On those off days I may give him 2-3 as a treat instead of a more higher calorie treat. It's only been a couple of weeks, so it's hard to gauge progress, but he does have a bit more bounce in his step and his limp (as slight as it was) is gone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Makes a Great Doggie Foster Parent with Rescue Powerhouse, Ann Pollock

Never heard of doggie fosters?

Don't understand the role that they play in saving so many of the dogs in the rescue system each year?

Not sure if you know if you have what it takes to be a foster parent to a dog in need?

Look no further. Ann Pollock from the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego breaks it all down for you here in one of our best interviews ever*:

Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego at a Rescue Event at Petco
SP: Fosters seem to be one of the most important parts of any successful rescue group. Where do you find your foster parents?
AP: We have a very devoted foster coordinator who is recruiting constantly. With ads on Craig’s List, FaceBook, and word of mouth she has been able to double the amount of dogs we have been able help over the last two years. We also have partnered with Furry Fosters, a new group of young energetic people who know that foster homes are an important part of savings more animals.


SP: What makes for good dog foster parents that represent your rescue?
AP: People who care for these dogs along with their own, don’t mind if they have an accident, don’t expect perfection and are able to bring these dogs out of their shells. They are also people who know that having the dog be visible to the public at events is an important part of the rescue. They drive them to the events, they sit and talk with potential adopters and people just curious about what is happening. They help make a good impression to the public and are maintaining our reputation of a good, honest rescue here in San Diego.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Front Lines in the Battle of the Bulge

I write about diets for older dogs now and again because I've been through getting an older dog in shape before to help improve his quality of life. A five pound gain on a 50 pound dog was more than enough for me to get my act in gear and implement some new habits to get my last senior (the Mighty Boo Boo) in shape.

Now I've gone and done it again. I've been lazy. I've been quick with the treats when presented with some new cute behavior. We've been diligent with our regular exercise routine, but sometimes when we're feeling social, we might not be as actively engaged in exercise our legs as much as our jaws (and sniffers.)

Rusty, a senior akita/shepherd needs a diet.
"I'm not fat. I'm just big-boned."
At 83 lbs., Rusty has put on two pounds in the last 6 months. I found this out when I took him in for a regular check up and to look into a slight limp that he's developed.

It was too early to tell if the limp was anything serious (and since the vet visit, it's already starting to dissipate), but it got me thinking that we better start walking the talk. Our goal is to get him to 75 lbs. We recognize that this will take months, but little by little, we need to start chipping away immediately.


  1. Reduction in non-food treats - One bully stick per week. He'll also get a sweet potato treat (I have a couple different go-to brands that I'll highlight in another post), and one Greenie's Joint Care stick. No table scraps. (Was that a moan a just heard in the background?)
  2. Food-treat replacement - A handful of food will be left back to be used as treats to reward those funny behaviors that I know and love (and want to encourage.)
  3. Replace (some) food with healthy filler - A handful of food will be replaced with an equal amount of chopped carrots and blueberries. 
  4. Exercise regimen - Reestablish good exercise habits and walk the entire route we're planning unless my canine comrade gets tired or his limp (more of a bob) returns. Actively seek out hills and slight grades in the path to make sure his muscles are getting a good workout without putting undue strain on his joints.  
There are plenty of times that we may add in an extra short walk before turning in or on weekend.

For his current joint issues I changed over to Dasuquin without MSM due to my regular supplier not carrying the MSM version anymore. Luckily I've since been able to find a source that does supply this joint supplement (glucosamine, chondroitin, AND MSM) and have a fresh supply on the way. He's also on Rimadyl under my veterinarian's guidance to help take the edge off. 

It's not going to be easy, but we know what the stakes are and are willing to go the distance.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bark Out Loud Super Nova

Archie - a lab mix, loses over 20 lbs, but finds his forever home
Archie (with the help of his foster mom) dropped over 20 lbs. AND found his forever home this week! 

Lots of movement this week for many of the SeniorPooch Adoptions Alumni if you read the last post.

This week also marked the launch of unAdoptablePets.com, a sister site to SeniorPooch.com. I've met a lot of great people and animals through SeniorPooch.com. Older dogs are just part of the population of less adoptable pets that are ignored every year because they don't quite fit the mold that most people expect. SeniorPooch.com will go on. I'll continue posting three times a week over here and content from this blog may make guest appearances over on the new site. unAdoptablePets.com will feature a broader variety of very worthy pets and work to debunk the myths that scare people away from adopting them.  It's an exciting time and I hope you'll take the opportunity to check out the site.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Old Dogs on the Move

It's been a busy couple of weeks here with several SeniorPooch Adoptions alumni making their move:


Sasha was sprung from the San Diego North County shelter by The Dog Squad's Sue Barbato, who describes her as a "dream dog." You can contact Sue about Sasha at: sue@thedogsquad.org.









Archie the senior lab was adopted after dropping over 20 lbs of extra weight. Kudos to his foster family for caring enough to put in the effort to help Archie.








Maple gets a change of scenery. After a year of being at the shelter, Maple is being transferred to another shelter out of state. I'll keep you posted when I found out where. Maple came out to several adoption events I volunteered at she was always a sweetheart. My introduction to her was sitting beside her and her handler with a dog I was watching. After taking a treat from me, she came over and used my leg as a pillow. I wish her nothing but the best.





And then there is Amy. Amy's two time foster-mom, Penny Adams passed away last week. At 21 there wasn't a lot of hope that Amy would find a forever home. Happily a kind shelter volunteer recognized Amy as a kindred spirit and took her in. I can't imagine a happier ending than this and tribute to Penny, whose selfless rescue work has saved so many animals over the years.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Chow Time Power Moves for Your Overweight Dog

As the owner of an older dog I constantly keep an eye on his weight to make sure that there's no undue pressure being placed on his aging bones and joints.

What can you do when your old dog is putting on the pounds (not due to a medical condition) and you've cut down their caloric intake?
  1. Mix in the veggies - In particular, crunchy ones like carrots. They serve double duty acting as filler and adding fiber to your dog's diet.
  2. More smaller meals - Cutting your dog's daily food allowance in two and feeding once in the morning and once a few hours before their afternoon walk allows them to digest each meal easier and helps to keep their metabolism up, which in turn, burns more calories. 
  3. Just add H2O - This is not about replacing food with water. It is all about getting your canine roommate to slow down while they're eating. Changing up their diet, in particular by making meals smaller, may cause the dog to eat faster. Add 1/4 - 1/2 parts water to 1 part food to make some gravy out of that dry food. I find that when dogs eat too fast they're more prone to spitting up their food. I, as I'm sure my pup, feel that it's a lot easier on both of us with chow going through his system in one direction.
  4. Reduction in treats - Easily, the toughest to do (at least for me.) The way that I've been able to handle it is to figure out what treats I'm giving my very, very good dog all week and cut the amount in half. I'll then take a handful of dry food out of his daily allowance and hand feed him him that during the day. The additional benefit here is I'm managing my dog's diet and spending extra bonding time using his regular food as a training aid.
Just like any diet that you undertake as a human, consistency is key in helping eliminate your dog's extra LBs. 



Friday, October 5, 2012

Bark Out Loud - A Moment of Slience Edition


I'm sad to report that Penny Adams passed away this week. Penny was an early supporter of SeniorPooch.com, not so much because we were taking animal advocacy in new places, but because we both got it. "It" being the recognition that all animals deserve respect.

There were several times when folks came to me looking to help find a home for a homeless pet in Southern California and Penny was either someone that I could turn to for advice (which she gave freely and without hesitation) or her name was on the lips of folks that I reached out to (ie, "I don't know, but there is someone who might. Her name is Penny Adams.")

I'm not entirely sure how long she was rescuing animals other than folks who have been doing it for over 20 years knew Penny as a mentor in their early days. A great example of the trust that folks had in her is the dog pictured above, Amy.  Penny adopted Amy out at the age of 3, some eighteen years ago. When Amy's owner could no longer take care of her, there was no question from Penny, whether she would take her back or not.

Amy and Penny's other rescues that were with her are looking for homes, temporary or permanent. I'll try to post more information as it becomes available, but if you're a rescue or can put up a dog (even a small one) for a week or two, let me know and I'll find a way to get the message to the right people.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Join Me in a Moment of ZZZZZZZ: The Appreciation of Sleep

It's 2 AM and the puppy is crying. It needs to go out again.

No surprise. It already slept much of the day and you did get it all wound up before hitting the sack. So now what?

The simple answer is, take that dog outside. You don't want to have any accidents in the house.

Now consider how the older dog handles the same situation:

  • Wiser - Already knows your schedule.
  • Slower (by just a bit) - If you're nearby even in bed, they're going to be happy to just be around you.
  • House-trained - Your mileage may vary, but almost certainly they're going to have their act together better than a puppy when it comes to knowing when it needs to go out and how that fits into your schedule.
  • More Relaxed - Older usually translates into more easily tired by moderate exercise and therefore more ready to take the night off when you are.

Older dogs still need enough exercise to keep their muscle tone up making their appreciation for some quality rest and relaxation an important benefit. My advice is to look forward to sharing this perk so you can get up and do it all over again with them tomorrow.

Thanks for the Labrador Retriever Rescue for the original thoughts on this topic.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Big Love for The Senior Doberman Project

Small dogs are cute, but big dogs need love too.

Enter The Senior Doberman Project (SDP).

Brought to us by the folks at Special Needs Dobermans and The Doberman Digest, SDP focuses on putting senior dobermans in need to the forefront to help get them adopted or at least sponsored.

The SDP is not a rescue, but connects dogs in need, regardless of their rescue situation with folks that know and love this fun-loving, loyal breed. Their website does a first rate job at profiling the dogs in need which allows readers to understand what type of dog they might be getting (looks and personality) should they be interested.

Each heart-felt story of these elegant creatures makes the case on a very personal level.

If you're a rescue who knows of a dobie in need, SDP makes it extremely easy to register with them to bring your dog(s) more visibility. They're connected to rescues throughout the US, and appear to be open to connecting with more.

If you're a doberman lover and are looking for a new room mate, or know nothing about doberman's other than they're that big scary dog at the end of the street, I'd encourage you to check out the older pups at SDP. I think it'll change your perspective on the breed.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Bark Out Loud About Things That Change Your World


This is Charlie.

Charlie had a dream that he didn't know he'd ever see come true. It wasn't a big dream.

Charlie wanted to be a dog and do all the things that dogs do: Run. Play. And most important have someone to love.

Charlie's wasn't that old when I met him. Maybe he was five or six. His owner didn't want him anymore. He was disrupting her ability to go out. She said he was anxious and even nasty around other dogs, but when I first met him, all Charlie wanted to do was play and to be loved. I clocked him at a minute in his ability to go from a standing wag to the belly rub position.

Charlie met my dog and was defensive, not because he was a bad dog, but because no one had taken the time to help him understand that he could be friends with other dogs.

When Charlie needed a ride to and from his first rescue event I jumped at the chance. He was adopted within the first 45 minutes just for being Charlie: loving up against a young couple that wanted him as much as he wanted them, doing his crazy belly rub dance, and getting nervous around other dogs.

Charlie is doing great now, taking care of his new family, going out for runs with his new dad, and getting to spend his days being spoiled by his new mom.

Charlie always knew what was most important and was strong enough to hang on until the rest of us caught up to him. I'd like to thank Charlie for letting me be a small part of his story.

I'll never be the same because of you, buddy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Vet Taking Senior for Seniors to the Next Level

Watch this video and let me know what you think. 

The original story is at: Local Pet Clinic Offers Senior Pet Adoption Program

I find it a remarkable story that in an age when so many folks are struggling to make ends meet, that the Crabapple Knoll Veterinary Clinic is stepping up to bring together pets and owners who need each other. It takes a special person to take in abandoned animals, but the folks at CKVC are going above and beyond by not only finding new homes for these homeless pets, but providing a 40% discount on those that qualify for their Seniors for Seniors program. 

What strikes me most is the joy that the new owner of the senior dachshund has for her new room mate. Her message speaks of true love for her dog and how the added responsibility helps to keep her active and engaged in the world around her. 

Many articles focus on the physical aspects of owning a dog making you healthier, and while I'll concede that it is important, the mental part of it is just as important to long term health.

Check out my original thoughts on the topic on: Seniors for Seniors: The Mature Dog-Person Connection



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Doubling Down on Veterinary Care for Your Older Pooch

Veterinarian checking a dachshund mix.
Your older dog has done a lot in it's lifetime and with that some miles of the trip have been rougher than others. Scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and the occasional upset stomach have helped you understand a little bit about how to look for symptoms of particular ailments.

As someone who is not a vet, I'm right there with you. Most times I can tell what's going on or can at least determine within a couple of hours when my dog ate something that didn't quite agree with him.

What I can't do is determine how things are going inside him. For that I have an awesome vet (actually, two in the same office who I've been going to for years), who let me know whether I should be worrying about one thing or another.

Because dogs age a lot faster than us, it makes sense to follow the common recommendations of going twice per year for a check-up. This covers not only catching early symptoms of outer facing maladies like arthritis, but also getting blood work done to catch issues brought up by weakening immune systems.

Use the visit as an opportunity to discuss changing dietary and exercise changes you should consider as your dog gets older. Simple preventative measures put in place can increase the quality of life for your pooch.

Also, ask about new and/or alternative therapies like acupuncture or hydrotherapy. The Internet is a great place for getting introduced to new ideas, but nothing beats a trusted veterinarian when it comes to getting the qualified facts specifically for how they relate to your dog and you.

Photo Credit: Tobyotter Some Rights Reserved





Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why Dogs Are Living Longer Than Ever Before

I came across this article recently that talks about "Blackie" a 19 year old dog that is doing well in a shelter in New London, ON Canada. The main topic of the article is that more dogs are living into their later teens more often than any time in the past.

The author mainly attributes the phenomenon of dogs being fed better diets than they ever have been in the past. I'm curious to hear what you're all feeding your senior dogs and if you either adhere to a raw diet or have tried one.

I switched to a no grain diet with Rusty, who I had previously had on a common dog food's senior diet formula. He's a pretty healthy guy already, so it's hard to tell if there were any short term effects, but I'm hopeful that the change will go a bit easier on his digestive system in later years.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bark Out Loud - Big Things are on the Horizon

Sasha, our really sweet older mixed breed, is anxious to find her forever home.
Sasha flashing her $1,000,000 smile
Before you do anything, bounce on over to our Adoptions Page to check out Sasha. She's a special girl who does well out of the shelter. I've had multiple volunteers contact me to help network Sasha, so whether she's your cup of tea or not, won't you help by sharing her picture any and everywhere you go?

I've been talking to filmmaker, Jessi Badami, about the Mall Dogs Project, a documentary about how shelters can turn retail environments into thriving  community shelters, and have signed on to help promote the project. If you're in rescue or you just love to see the magic that happens when the right dog meets their perfect human companion, I'd encourage you to check out Mall Dogs Headquarters over at DogParent.com. I'm going to be talking about how it's coming along from time to time, so you may as well get up to speed and see if there is anything you can do to help.

A few months back, I also joined the board of The Dog Squad Rescue here in San Diego. Keep an eye on the rescue's event page if you're in San Diego and looking for the right dog. We all have a great passion for helping homeless animals, so I'm lucky to be part of such a special group of people.

All of this is because one special dog who had no reason to trust me gave me a chance, and another, whose love of life refused to accept his very dire circumstances. I'm inspired to go even bigger with my mission.

Who's with me?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A (Senior) Dog in Every Home and a Bed in Every Room

The thing that senior dogs and puppies have in common is their appreciation for sleep. As a puppy, they've spent their day running around and just in general being lovable. Older dogs have been there and done all of that. They're still active, but years of activity have brought them to a place where they only need a few short walks to get their daily exercise. Their joints are a bit more worn down and jumping around is not as enticing as it once was.

The best investments that I've made is to provide a comfortable place for my senior pal to lay down in the rooms where I'm most likely to be. He'll follow me from room to room, so I want to make sure that he's up off of the cold floor, and his old bones have enough support to keep him comfortable.

The most inexpensive option is a heavy quilted dog blanket. I picked up one of these from Costco as an alternative for travel, as well as a "third" bed. It's not perfect in that I need to assist fluffing it up frequently.

The first two that are in my living room and bedroom are full on dog beds. For larger dogs these can get expensive if you go to a specialty pet shop (reaching over $110), but there are plenty of great alternatives that you can pick up on the cheap if you shop around on the web. I find that my dog likes his bed firm, so look to see if the bed has orthopedic support to cradle their bodies and keep them from laying flush on the floor.


Monday, September 17, 2012

When Saying Goodbye is the Right Thing to Do

Sweet Boo Boo - A Dog That Dared to Overcome Fear
Boo Boo the Wonder Dog, looking ready for a new adventure
Sharing your time with an older dog is accepting that they're likely going to leave you sooner than a younger dog might.

It's something that as a dog owner you'll need to come to grips with one day and do the right thing for you and your loyal companion. It'll be one of the tougher decisions you'll have to make, but you're the only one that can make it for both of you.

My primary recommendation is to establish the ground rules for how you're going to decide to euthanize your dog well before the time comes if you have the choice. You'll want to be as objective as possible so you can look back without doubt that you did the right thing.

Make sure that you understand that the decision is yours. Your dog isn't going to tell you if it's time or not. Your dog's only goal in life has been to make you happy and be happy itself. A dog in pain may or may not show signs that tell you when is the right time. Make sure you're working with your vet and determine what an acceptable quality of life is.

Don't make the decision to put your dog to sleep because it's the convenient thing to do. I can't think of a more horrible thing, but unfortunately bringing the dog to be put to sleep or dumped at a shelter because of rising veterinary costs is unfortunately not uncommon. There are alternatives for financial help for people trying to care for their animals in this tough economy if you look.

On the other side of the fence, don't make excuses for dragging it out. No creature lives forever and you don't want to question whether you were part of torturing an animal in its last days for no better reason than keeping it around for yourself.

The best book that I've read on the topic is Is It Time to Say Goodbye? A Guide for Considering a Difficult Decision for your Pet. It's not an easy topic to address, so if you know someone who is struggling over this decision, point them to this book and let them know that you're there for them.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bark Out Loud for Your Buddy Contest


I've never met Buddy (aka Buddy Boy), but as much as any dog, he's a part of why SeniorPooch.com exists. Buddy was on my short list of dogs to meet when I ultimately wound up adopting Rusty. Buddy was the last dog standing in The Dog Squad's list of adoptable pets before they went back into business full time and ultimately led me to connect with them and become a member of their board.  After two years in foster and making a triumphant return from a rattlesnake bite, Buddy is still a charmer. Everyone needs a Buddy and Buddy needs you. If you're not in the market for a new dog click on one of the sharing icons below (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and get the word out on Buddy.

Bark Out Loud for Your Buddy Contest

We've had a number of folks share stories of their Senior Pooch here, but I want to take it up a notch. Between today and the end of the end of the year I want stories of you and your senior dog. I really want them.

How to enter: Send an email to me at jeff@seniorpooch.com with 100-500 words on any or all of the following:

  • Why your senior dog is the best.
  • How you came to adopt your dog, if adopted as a senior.
  • Something funny or interesting that your pal (or palette) learned, whether you're sure where they picked it up or not.
  • How they have dispelled what you thought how a senior dog should act.
  • Any other touching story about them.
Also you'll need to include 1 or 2 pictures of your dog as an older dog. Ideally you'll be in the picture as well.

How long do I have?: No time! Get to it now. Time's a wasting. The first 10 stories I accept and publish will get prizes, but any story received may be published on SeniorPooch.com. Sending these in to me gives me permission to share your awesomeness with the world.

Prizes? Yes, prizes. Occasionally I'll get things that people want reviewed or I'll see a deal on a book or toy that I know is SeniorPooch friendly. I'll send out one item (a book or toy), a  SeniorPooch-branded item (right now I'm working on refrigerator magnets, but may have other items ready soon as well), and a personal thank you note. Supplies are limited, so I'll choose the first thing available just to keep it fair. 

Are there any limitations on the story I right? It just needs to be a 100% factual story in one of the categories listed above. The majority of the story needs to be about he dog in its senior years. Ideally, 100% of the story is, but if you adopted the dog at a younger age and want to bridge the time between puppyhood and senior poochdom, that's OK. Comparing your dog when it was younger to how it is as an older dog is OK too. I reserve the right to publish or not publish any story I get. 

What if I have a great story about an older dog of mine that is no longer with us? That's OK too. 

Why are you doing this? Just to share stories about senior dogs so that more folks get the hint and start adopting them. I adopted my first older one sort of by accident. The folks that see me out with my senior pal all comment how cool it is that I adopted a senior, but I just think of him as a dog. Two folks I know adopted senior dogs after talking with me or reading my blog. I'm looking to up the states to increase the number of senior dogs adopted and kept healthy and happy into their golden years.

Good luck and may the Pooch be with You!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Caring For Your Older Dog

Our friend, Maria Godfrey, in the UK sent us the following tips with a couple simple changes can make your older dog's (and your) life a bit more comfortable:

Older dogs make perfect companions: they are gentle, loyal and loving, and caring for an older dog is a rewarding experience. Whether you and he have watched the years roll by together, or if your wise friend is a new addition to your life, you'll want the very best for your pooch in their golden years. As such, here are a few things to keep in mind when caring for your companion:

A properly balanced diet is vital for any dog, but if your furry is aged seven or over - or five if he's a larger breed - a specially designed food for older dogs may be beneficial. Your vet will be able to offer you more information about the changing nutritional needs of your dog as he ages.

Long Live Your Dog advises owners to keep in mind that older dogs will usually perform less physical activity than their younger counterparts, so the amount of food you give them should be adjusted accordingly. Don't over-feed your dog - obesity is associated with an increased risk of health problems.   

If your older dog has trouble chewing, perhaps due to age-related dental issues, you could wet their dry food slightly with water to make it easier for them to handle.

Your older dog may find it difficult to get around as well as he once did, and jumps that once seemed like nothing can become potentially painful drops, so perhaps the Easy Step Pet Stairs sold by Pets at Home could help him on a day to day basis. Consider it if you have a steep step up to your garden gate or front door, perhaps. Another potentially handy accessory sold by the pet store is the extra tall pet gate. Check out retailers such as Pets at Home for ideas. Fitting this gate can work in several ways - putting your mind at rest if you are worried about your dog's unsteady legs on steep stairs, or ensuring a weakened bladder doesn't become a problem in your child's, or indeed your own, bedroom.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Young Dog, Old Dog, Shy Dog, Bold Dog

Old dogs are like treasure chests. It may take a while to figure out how to open them and when you do, there's no telling what mysteries they're waiting to spring on you.

My old pup, Rusty, recently started exhibiting a new behavior: giving kisses

I don't encourage him to lick, but when we're sitting all alone and I'm rubbing his chin or cheeks, he'll turn and give me a kiss.

My first impression was that something was wrong, so with flashlight in hand, I went routing around in his mouth to see if maybe he had a cut or abrasion. Nothing. 

His appetite is the same, as are all of his biological functions. He's lost a step or two in the last year and a half, but it's been a slow, gradual process, that is probably more closely tied to the time between when we eat and exercise. 

It took me a moment, but then I realized that it wasn't something that I was doing, it was his doggie friends. At eighty pounds and a bounce in his step, you either love him or fear him if you're a smaller dog. Luckily the overwhelming majority love him. Those that don't are either kept well away by their owners, or bark like crazy enough that Rusty gets the hint to steer clear.

The many dogs that love him are smaller and will happily come over to say "Hi" and jump up and lick his face, which experts will tell you is a sign of submission or respect. Even the more shy or nervous dogs calm down given a chance to get close enough. There have been a couple of incidents where one dog or the other will get anxious and both will get mouthy, but that is much more the except than the rule in my case. If you're going to socialize any dog, I'd recommend making sure that they're calm, happy, and know how to tolerate others without having to be in their face first. 

On the other side of the fence, we've come across more young, energetic dogs, that calm down in his presence as if understanding that it's not necessary to get crazy with every dog they meet. There are usually plenty of wags to be had on either side with my older guy occasionally joining the play session to let the younger crowd know that he's still a pup at heart.

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