Sunday, February 11, 2024

My Old Dog

 I have an old dog. In three months, he'll be thirteen. To a lot of folks out there, that doesn't sound old, but for a German Shepherd, a large old-style square back (not one of those slope back ones) that's old. Most don't make it past twelve. We're talking a dog that was probably 110~120 in his prime. Not a fat dog either.

In the last year he has lost a lot of weight. I suspect he's 80`90 pounds now. His appetite has decreased significantly. He has trouble getting up and walking at times, especially in the evenings and early morning. His hindquarters don't work as well as they used to (and NO it's NOT dysplasia this is normal, all quadrapeds have issues with their hips when they get old - just like humans do).

And of course, being a GSD he's both an actor and an attention whore. So you never know if he's hurting sometimes, or just trying to get attention. As he's -MY- dog (GSD's are one person dogs) I'm the one who he will play these games on if he feels he's not getting enough attention, and seeing as he can't do all the things he used to, guess what he wants more of? 

Also sometimes he really does need to get up at 3AM and go outside. These days I deal with a very irregular sleep schedule. It's not fun. This is my typical night now: Sometime between 2AM and 4AM he'll wake me up by whining softly. I get up. I get dressed. I put my shoes on - if that doesn't start getting him up, I get my coat and come back to the bedroom and put it on. If he's been sleeping on his bed, (which he's used more in the last 4 months than the prior 12 years) it's hard for him to get off of it, and last night he needed help. 

It's not made easier by our other GSD (who is a lot younger) running around all excited because we're going outside. Getting him up, and getting him to go slowly until he can get his hindquarters working, can be a chore sometimes. So can getting outside. Ten to fifteen minutes later we're back inside. He usually doesn't make it past the kitchen. I have area rugs on ALL of the tiled areas in the house now (we bought a bunch months ago just for this - went through this with the last GSD when he got old, though he didn't hang on this long - so I know what to expect). 

So I've been up almost a half hour at this point, and it's not done. Or maybe it is. When I go back to bed he might start complaining because he wants me to come and 'protect' him from the other dog so he can get up, and make his way to the bedroom (the other dog, when sleeping at night will growl at him if he goes by - he's an idiot). I'll go through all of this again at 7AM. If I don't get him in the bedroom when I first go to bed, at sometime an hour or two later I'll be woken up because, again, he wants me to 'protect' him from the murder muppet who will growl at him as he goes by.

This happens every night. It is incredibly rare now for me to not be woken up. I don't know if he really needs to go out or not, but it's the only thing that will settle him back down, otherwise I will be up for hours (literally).

Feeding is also a lot more involved now, because sometimes you all but have to force him to eat. He's definitely gotten a lot pickier. I also suspect at times he's just a touch senile. So his care has gotten a lot more complicated. He doesn't see as well as he used to, and sometimes he doesn't hear all to well either. But at least he's still happy.

At night, especially when it's cold out (being as we're still in winter) I have to go outside with him, because I don't want him to get into trouble. Tonight I took him out and he decided to walk a quarter of the fence line until I aimed him back at the house. Walking the perimeter is something he used to do every night (we've got 2 acres fenced). He fell over twice and I had to help him back up. Twice he had to stop for a short rest break and I had to help him up then too. Now he's passed out on the floor next to me, and I'll probably crash on the couch and go to bed later tonight when he's got the energy to head to the bedroom.

I honestly have no idea how bad he'll get, if he'll die in his sleep (like our last GSD), or if it'll be something worse. But he's happy now, even when he is all but dragging himself because he can't get his hind legs under him and I have to help him get up and calm him down (the mail lady knows his name and calls him when she goes by if she has to deliver something so he wants to go say hello). He can't race the cars anymore, though honestly it's been over a year since he could really do that at all. Yet there are times he still tries.

So yeah, it's rough. Being old myself, it makes it rougher. I won't be replacing him, this is my last pet. I've outlived too many of them, and I don't feel like having one outlive me. The spouse will keep getting dogs, now they can have two instead of one, but it isn't going to be 'mine'. Which will make it easier on me. (And no, I can NOT take him to the vet. He wants to kill the vet. Any vet. All vets. I won't put him through that stress).


  1. Anonymous8:01 PM

    I've been there and am there now with my 13 yr old City who thinks 0400 is wake up time and sunset is bed time. I feel for you and wish you the best in a peaceful ending. I know I'm just enjoying these last few.months or days.


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