Don’t put the cart before the horse

A few days ago, I noticed Darling Doggie Dallas was hobbling a bit after he awoke from a nap.

Wondering what was wrong, I ran my hands over his paws and legs (all of them, just to be safe).

Nothing amiss.

I called his vet, who suggested keeping him quiet and watching him. If he’s still wonky tomorrow, I was told, call back.

The next day, he seemed better. I couldn’t bring myself to walk him, but neither did I believe he needed a doctor.

Two days later, he was still wobbly. This, despite the fact he was eating and pottying normally, playing, and in good spirits. So I called the vet back.

He’ll be seven in November, she said. Sometimes they start feeling their age about then, just like people.

What?? Why, that’s barely 42 in human years!

Is it time to put him on glucosamine and condroitin, I kidded.

Sounds like a great idea, they said.

Dallas in profile

Dallas in profile

So it starts.

When we bring a puppy into our homes (and hearts), we know that, because of their shorter life spans, we’ll likely outlive them. In the mad scramble to housebreak, socialize, and train them, we don’t think about that.

We’re far too enamored with their cute little noses. And soft fur coats. And warm brown eyes.

And how they love us unconditionally. Like when we’ve had a hard day and feel no one else understands.

But aging doesn’t rear its ugly head suddenly; we’ve got time to acclimate to it. To look for “old age” signs — a bit more white to the muzzle, an ability to sleep as only old dogs can.

Still, it frightens me.

Triple-D is my soul dog. Sure, I’ve invested a lot of time and money into his care, but more than that, I’ve given him my heart.

The mere suggestion that he’s not always going to be a part of my life brings tears to my eyes.

After all, I’ve been through a beloved dog’s death before.

The gut-wrenching pain, the crying jags, the empty feeling deep in your soul.

And I don’t want to go through that again.

Not on the heels of Domer’s leaving home.

So I’ll put on my Pollyanna hat and focus on the bright side. A Sheltie’s average lifespan is 12-13 years, but they can live 15 years or longer. The Sheltie I owned before Dallas lived to 19 years!

I refuse to think Triple-D is on his last leg. This is just a blip on the radar.

Don’t you agree??

23 thoughts on “Don’t put the cart before the horse

  1. Wylie started with those symptoms at two…we blamed it on hiking and cut back at it and put her on glucosamine and condroitin. It did her a world of good. We still take her on hikes but not too long and she plays hard with the neighborhood dogs and doesn’t seem to be as bothered as she was though she still has days her hips are giving her fits. She will be five in November.
    Hope your Dallas is feeling better soon. It is just a blip on the radar. Just as some humans have arthritis or other conditions, the same applies with canines. We do what we have to for comfort.

    • Suzi, thank you for reassuring me and sharing your experience with Wylie. I sometimes let myself get all balled up over stuff I can’t control, but thanks to my friends, I’m better today. And so is Triple-D!

  2. “I refuse to think Triple-D is on his last leg. This is just a blip on the radar.

    Don’t you agree??”

    Yes, absolutely, Debbie! My brother has a Pomeranian and he’s 13-years old. Yes, he’s slowed down a bit, but he also has times when he still acts like a puppy – running and romping around, as if he’s 2-years old.

    “And how they love us unconditionally. Like when we’ve had a hard day and feel no one else understands.”

    You said it! I’ve had both dogs and cats as pets throughout my life, and even cats are the same way. I used to have a cat (who lived until he was 19-years old), who would greet me at the door everyday when I came home from work. He would also sit on the toilet seat and watch me shave every morning. Also, believe it or not, he would get between the shower curtain and shower curtain liner while I was taking a shower, and walk back and forth along the edge of the bathtub – HA!

    Like you and Dallas, he was my ‘soul cat.’

    Great photo of Dallas! He is sooooooooo CUTE!

    Have a super weekend, dear lady!

    • Ron, I LOVE your description of Kitty dancing along the edge of the bathtub between the shower liner and the curtain!! What a special friend he was!!

      And THANK YOU for reassuring me about Dallas’ creaky joints. I accept that time is passing, but I refuse to believe a 7-year-old dog is OLD! Especially one who’s so ready to play at the drop of a hat!

      Dallas thanks you for liking his profile — we had to work really hard when he was a puppy to get his ears to tip, but it was soooo worthwhile!

      Happy weekend to you!

  3. Be sensible 😀 You feed a good food, exercise DD regularly, and take him to the vet as needed. Your other dogs have lived long (very! long!) lives. DD will more than likely live forever. All dogs, all people (young and old) walk up from time to time with quirk (as Cole calls them) we work it out and move on. Yes, I feel the same way about Rascal. I truly can’t imagine life without her, but then we have to grab a leash, a brush, a treat and cancel those thoughts with a happy one. Last leg? For heavens sake that is SOOOOOO silly ♥ don’t throw the puppy out with the bathwater for at least another 10 years. K?

    • Kb, you’re my ROCK! Thanks for jerking me back to sanity when I was so ready to spin out of control over this! “Don’t throw the puppy out with the bathwater” — I truly love that!

      Dallas is much better today, though I invested in a bottle of chewable glucosamine and condroitin anyway. I understand it might take a “while” for me to see positive benefits, but in the meantime, I don’t want him aching. I know what that feels like — every year, moving Domer into his dorm!! — and DDD can’t take Tylenol!

  4. Oh I hear you, but absolutely this is a blip on the radar. Katie will be 7 in December. Just this year I’ve noticed her sleeping more (though often not when I wish she’d sleep more) and stopping the game sooner. And sitting down sooner on long walks, mostly if it’s warm out. So I too have thought about the fact she’s suddenly older. And I remember when Bonnie left us…that was hard. But I also remember Bonnie lived to be 15. And I’m hopeful Katie will too. Still. These 6.5 years have flown by and I know in my heart the next 7 will too. Who knows how long we’ll get to have them with us. Every day is a good day when you have a sheltie. That’s what I’m sticking with.

    • Excellent mantra, Dawn — “Every day is a good day when you have a Sheltie.” I agree 100%! Dallas has brought so much joy and devotion to my life, and every day with him is a blessing. I refuse to complain about all the coat he blows, or the barking! Thanks for understanding. It’s probably just my hopeful imagination, but I’ve given him two doses of glucosamine and condroitin now, and he does seem better.

  5. Well, I’ve got a kitty who’s twelve, and she certainly is slowing down. No question about that. But she still walks the edge of the bathtub, too, and can jump up on the bed with no sign of arthritis, so it’s all good.

    The death of a pet is traumatic – no question about that. But the only way to avoid it is to give up all the love, pleasure and joy that they give us – and we them – over the years. I don’t like thinking about the fact that I’ll have to go through the experience of losing Dixie, but it only makes me more determined to give her the best life possible for as many more years as I have her. It’s the “what is” that counts, not the “what ifs”! Or so I think.

    • I think you’re absolutely right, Linda. Their lives might be short, but they pack them full, don’t they? And who’s to say how long they’ll be with us? We’ve all heard of pets living much longer (or sadly, much shorter) than the average. I, too, believe in making whatever time I’ve got with Dallas as good as possible. Dixie is lucky to have you (and what a pretty name — my next dog might be a ‘Dixie,’ too!)

    • Thanks, Hipster. I get all weepy thinking I’m not going to have him forever, but ‘forever’ is a l-o-n-g time in a dog’s life (or a human’s). Having pets can be a nuisance — expensive vet and food bills, time spent training and exercising, etc. — but they pay us back in spades. (Where did that stupid expression come from anyway — who wants to be paid back in spades??)

  6. Debbie, of course I agree. But, still it makes me sad to think what the future will look like. You are absolutely so right, how we think about the everyday, and focused on them being puppies and all that it entails, then suddenly. Henry recently turned six and I don’t like having birthdays anymore, not for me and not for him. I want us to stay like we are now. Why do we have to have this aging process anyway, and the dying thing? Sigh.

    • I know just what you mean, Monica! I guess it’s better to focus on the positive side — we’re all still here. But you’re so right, the thought of old age — for Dallas or for me — is mighty scary. Sure, medicine can help, and we do everything we can to live right (eat, exercise, etc.), but there’s a lot we can’t control. And the unknown can be frightening.

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  8. Oh, he’s definitely got many more active years ahead of him. He may slow down a bit, but some routine activity will keep everything moving. It’s hard to think of them aging because we do get so attached to them, though.

    Our oldest dog will be fifteen next month, and our oldest cat turned thirteen in February. Signs of slowing down are more apparent, but they both seem pretty healthy. With six pets, we know that losing them is inevitable, but I just don’t think about that.

    I think it’s better to love them today and deal with sorrow tomorrow…whenever that day comes.

    • Good advice, Janna — Thanks! Since my last Sheltie lived to age 19, I have no reason to think Dallas won’t. I know for sure, Dallas has the benefit of better food, more walkies, and regular tooth-brushing, ha!

  9. Definitely just a blip on the radar. I’m sure Dallas will be just fine and I’ll say a little prayer for him for good measure.

    I know what you mean about Dallas being your soul dog. I feel the same way about my Lucy. I think we humans tend to bond tighter with our pets, especially as we’re facing an empty nest. So we need to appreciate each and every day of joy they bring us.

    • Such wise words, Terri — Thank you! And thank you for the prayers — I never turn them down. In fact, the more people praying for me, the happier I am! And Dallas, I’m sure, feels the same.

      Update: It’s been a couple of days now that he’s been taking the supplements, and they do seem to help. Why, last night, he was romping around the house just like he did when he was a pup, and there was a special happy gleam in his eyes!

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