Category Archives: The Golden Years

The golden years are some of the best years you will have with your dog! They are very comfortable with you and their surroundings. Your best friend and you will come to know each other so well; there won’t be any need for words. Enjoy the golden years together!

Jackie my golden 13 year old girl

Jackie was born March 22, 2001 on a farm in Hagersville, Ontario along with 5 brothers 4 sisters. I was out for a drive in the country when I saw the sign on the side of the road “puppies to good home”. Something me stop and have a look. I was thinking about getting a dog for myself for awhile now. Something just felt right about the time and this place. The owner of the farm has a yellow Labrador named Lucy who just had 10 puppies. She explained that she thought the father was a Golden Retriever that would come and visit but couldn’t confirm this since she also had a German Shepherd suitor as well!

I was so excited when I saw the puppies crawling all over Lucy. However on counting the number of puppies, I could only see nine. I was about to ask what happened to the tenth puppy when I looked around and saw the little puppy. She wasn’t paying attention to what her brother and sisters were doing. She was running around checking out things.  That was when I knew that this was the puppy I for me. I wanted an independent puppy since I worked long hours.

Jackie was the right fit for me

I was looking for a dog that was:

  • Friendly and social
  • Independent and curious
  • Loyal and intuitive

Since I didn’t always have the luxury of a routine this puppy had to able to fit right in with her surroundings and become quite flexible with our routine which could change easily. This puppy seemed to have all the qualities I was looking for, not to mention being very cute and cuddly.

Getting ready for Jackie

She was 7 weeks old when I saw her, so I said I would be back in a week when she turned 8 weeks old to take her home.  This gave me a week to get the house ready for my new found love of my life. I had so much fun getting toys and more toys for her.  I read articles on what to do when bringing a puppy home, how to prepare the house and anything else I could get my hands on.  Something’s I was better at doing than others. A crate would have been a good thing.

Bringing Jackie home

The following week I returned to the farm and picked up Jackie. It seemed as if she knew I was coming to take her home. She was waiting for me with Lucy (her mom). I brought a towel which I rubbed on Lucy so that Jackie would have her moms scent to take home with. This made the drive home much easier on her. So off we went for a new life of adventure together.

I named her Jackie, but I call her Jacks. Not to mention all my ‘pet names’ for her such as Big Bear and Goose. When we got home the first part of the day and evening were quite uneventful. I think we were both so tired from the excitement. We played a bit and she explored her surroundings. When bed time came this is where we started to run into a problem. You see I didn’t want to put Jackie in a small crate. I wanted her to live where ever I was. After all it was her home as well. Big Mistake! (See my blog on Crating Puppies.)

I put out a small box and filled it with a towel we Lucy’s scent and a cuddly toy. Said goodnight and went to bed. We were both in the same room. Well after listening to her wail, whine and bark for 15 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore. Jackie cuddled up right next to me on the bed. From that day on she has slept with me every night. Even now that she is 13 years old.  We have a set of stairs to my bed that she uses to come up at bed time. This was quite interesting for my husband since to this day Jacks l still gives him a look of “you want moi to move?” and we have been married for 10 years!

Life with Jackie

Life with Jackie has never been a dull moment. From chewing floor boards, eating odd things, to finding her own, misguided adventures. However for every silly crazy thing there have been hundreds of great things. I’m sure Jackie was born an old soul. She just knows what I’m feeling and knows just what to do. We have gone through many experiences over the years. She has always been there for me. As I always will be there for her. Her stories are full of lessons learned; specifically things I have learned to help me a better dog owner for not only Jackie but my future dogs.

Jack’s now is 13 years old and has have Cushings Disease, pancreatitis, plate in her knee, some allergies and severe arthritis. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for this dog! She is a wonderful swimmer and loves boating. She has a great sense of humor (read about what happened to my daughter’s elephant). She has her own way of doing things.  As she gets older she’s become quite persnickety. However she’s a great listener and my best friend.  My tales of Jackie and me will hopefully provide you with tips and knowledge of what having a true best friend is all about, not to mention lessons I have learned.

This is the story of Jackie. Not only is she the love of my life, but you will see her story stretch from puppy, to living years, to now the best years as my golden girl.

How do I say goodbye to my longest dearest best friend Jackie?

How do I know that I’m making the best decision for Jackie?

When do I know that it may be time to say good bye?

What if I am wrong?

These are some of the questions that are on my mind. There are many more questions that go around and around in my mind ..             What If? Is the biggest question of all.

Jackie is my best friend. Jackie is the love of my life. Jackie has been with me through the good times and the really hard times. Now I have to be the one there for her. I have to be the one to make the hard decision of whether she joins all the other great dogs in that field of grassy meadows and warm lakes to jump in. So how do I do that?

Our vet Dr. Susie guides me in thinking about how Jackie is doing. Look into her eyes and what are they trying to tell you? Remember all the things Jackie used to do, does she still do them? As I write this post which has to be the hardest of all, I begin to reminisce on Jackie and the 14 years we have been together.

I sit with Jackie and think about all the adventures we have been on. We lived in many places. Had many people come and go in our lives. We endured hardships, broken hearts, but we also loved to be out on a hike. On the hikes she would chase anything that moved, but her favorite was finding the mot stinky rotting thing she could roll in. She loved catching balls and asked me to throw balls around for endless hours. She loved the water and the countless hours diving after a stick off the dock. The wind in her ears as we were driving in the boat. I remember when she would greet each visitor at the door with a big bark of hello and bring a furry toy (or slipper) to say hello and welcome to our home. She was our welcoming ambassador. However over the last year things have been slowing down. She no longer wanted to go swimming. Long walks are too much for her. She used to bark and tell me the post man was here. Her ears may perk up slightly now but no bark.  She hasn’t greeted our visitors with her usual bouncy self. I look at her and she looks away. Things are not like they used to be. She can hardly get up and move now.  Is she telling me she’s tired? Jackie is not like a regular dog, she has an old soul in her. It’s as if there is a little person in that dog’s body and that little person is tired.

Soon I’m going to have to say good bye to this great dog. I can’t tell myself or Jackie when, but I know in my heart that it will be very soon.

For now I sit with Jackie and spend as much time as I can with her.

For my Jackie one of the true loves of my life!

 

In memory of Jackie

Many of you know now that Jackie passed away on February 20th of her own accord.  I truly miss my best friend, but know she is somewhere over the rainbow playing in fields of green, swimming in a large cool lake and hanging out with her friends on a big dock watching the boats go by.

 

Remembering my Jackie a proud strong dog that left an impression on everyone she met. We were very lucky to have you.   March 22, 2001 to February 20, 2015

Jackie and the shock she gave our family !!

On January 29 I woke up to an immobile Jackie. Every time she tried to get up she just splayed on all fours. She just wanted to lay down and be left alone. Every time someone came close it was like she couldn’t bear the sight of them and would twist her head so far away. She wouldn’t eat anything and only drank small sips of water. It was completely heart wrenching to see my Jackie in such bad shape.   We immediately called our vet Dr. Suzie.

Here are the events that could have lead do a different ending

Jackie goes to the Vet on Friday Morning

We met with Dr Suzie on early Friday morning. There was no change to Jackie and she was even worse than the day before. When Dr. Suzie saw her I could tell by the look on her face that things were not good. She asked if Jackie fell on the ice or on the snow.  Did she twist or fall in the house? Nothing unusual that we noticed.  She suggested some pain killers and said let’s wait a few days and see what happens.  We could run more tests but what would these tests show?? Jackie is almost 14 years old.

I stayed back to talk to Dr. Suzie to provide me some guidance on what I should do. She suggested I look at Jackie and ask myself these questions. Is this still Jackie? Does she still do all the fun crazy things? Does she still respond the way she used to? Does her tail still wag?  I began to write a post while I sat with Jackie for the next 72 hours. (Which I’m not ready to post yet. It will be posted when the time comes but today is a different day.)

We took Jackie home and things began to get worse. Her eyes began to flutter and her head was at a constant tilt. She wasn’t getting up. She wasn’t eating or drinking. I called Dr. Suzie and gave her the most recent update.  Dr. Suzie suggested keep monitoring Jackie. The entire veterinary office was placed on alert for us in case the end was near.  I thought the way Jackie looked appeared as if she had a stroke. Little did I realize that I wasn’t far off on my observation.

Sunday afternoon Jackie walks into the kitchen

Our family was milling about getting lunch ready when we looked over and it was Jackie standing in the door way. No one helped her over to the Kitchen (we had been using a sling to help her maneuver going outside). She was just standing with her new tilted look staring at us. Well you could imagine the joy that went through all of us. She collapsed at that point as she tried to turn around. So we helped her back to her favorite spot, and sat down completely mesmerized by what we just saw! Jackie actually got up. For the rest of the day, Jackie only got up once more. She still wasn’t eating but was drinking more and loved to eat the snow when she went outside. We were still holding her up as well.

The next 48 hours

Over the next couple of days, Jackie began to be interested in our daily regimen. Since she wasn’t eating her food I made her food. I made her chicken, rice, peas and green beans. I added the Salmon Oil and Hilary’s Blend. (I used to make Jackie’s food when she first was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease) As soon as I put that in front of her, she ate it all up. WOW as my daughter said looking at Jackie. Look mom Jackie is eating your food. That was the ticket! Jackie was still far from being her usual self but things looked promising.

I told Dr. Suzie that Jackie looked like someone who has had a stroke. Dr. Suzie went over all the symptoms and Jackie’s actions at home. She suspected that I might not be far off. She said Jackie could have Vestibular Disease. She sent me an article (which I have linked here). It all started to hopefully make sense.  She asked us to bring Jackie in for a follow-up the next morning.

Wednesday meeting with the Veterinarian

Dr. Suzie could not believe the change in Jackie. The office was completely in awe. Jackie walked in on her own accord! Wagging her tail and saying hello. She now had a distinguished tilt to her head. Her back legs were still quite wobbly or we say, she had spaghetti legs. That being said, it was still Jackie!  Dr. Suzie confirmed that what had happened to Jackie, was a form of Vestibular Disease. This has been seen in many older dogs like Jackie.  This was the best prognosis we could have gotten.

The weeks to come..

It’s going to take Jackie a few weeks of solid recuperation to get stronger and better. She will always have that new tilt to her head. It’s like she is checking us over. I don’t want to think how things could have ended if we didn’t give Jackie the time to see if anything had changed. If we had made a decision before those 72 hours, I wouldn’t have my Jacks with me today.

If you suspect your pet has the same or similar symptoms that our Jackie had, work with your Veterinarian and listen to your heart. This disease is very scary. We know we just lived through it. That said the disease will begin to correct itself in 72 hours. Our willingness to wait, watch, and hope, saved our Jackie.

 

Please read the linked article to understand this old dog vestibular syndrome!  It could change your decision about your dog’s inherent outcome!

 

Summary

Give your pet the time to see if they will rally. In our case we had waited and now Jackie is with us and getting gourmet meals. We don’t know how much longer we have her for. However the most important thing is that we gave her the time and she is with us today.

If your senior dog has had this, we would truly like to hear from you. We are hoping to raise awareness of this senior dog syndrome.

I also want to thank everyone’s well wishes and hopefulness through this whole time!

Our Golden Dogs can and should enjoy winter.

As you know my Jackie is now 13.5 years old. She still loves the snow and turns into a puppy when the first flakes begin to fall.  My nick name for Jackie during the winter season is “Snow Dog”. (She is also known as Santa Dog, but that is for another post). However Jackie needs me to ensure that she is safe and warm while we are outside so it’s my job to ensure that Jackie enjoys winter in comfort.

Your senior pet may be getting slower and have arthritis, but that doesn’t mean she or he should stay at home once it starts snowing. Our senior pets benefit tremendously from regular safe exercise. During the winter season, this means we owners need to make sure our pets are ready to go outside before that door opens!

Here are a few of my winter outdoor tips for your senior dogs.

Keep your senior dog’s moving.

If your dog is anything like my Jackie, short walks a few times a day are better than long walks. Senior dogs must get exercise to keep their joints nimble as well as keep their minds active and attitudes positive

Don’t let your senior dog over do it

As they say, “The mind is willing, but the body is not able”.  Your dog might want to run and jump through the snow like she did when she was a pup, but she will be paying for it with aches and pains the next day. It’s up to us as their owners to judge how much of a good thing your dog is able to take.

Keep your senior dog on a leash.

It’s our responsibility to keep our pets safe. I can walk Jackie off leash, but I put her on the leash in winter (ESPECIALLY ON THE STREETS, SIDEWALKS AND IN THE WOODS).  Her eyes and ears are not as sharp as they used to be.  Having her on a leash is going to ensure my senior dog stays out of trouble. Also their reaction time is much slower and if she wanders onto a road, where cars have a harder time stopping in the winter.  And if you are out in the forest, your senior dog could loose her footing on ice.  With a leash you’re right there to help her out. (Check out our product category Dog Collars & Leashes)

Take care of senior dogs paws and legs.

During the winter season we need to take care of our dog`s paws no matter their age. Dry cracked paws are not fun when you’re walking over de-icers. Not to mention getting snow and ice trapped within her pads since this will cause considerable pain and discomfort. If your senior dog is anything like my Jackie and already has aches and pains, this will add to the problem.  (Read my post of “Keeping our Dogs Paws Healthy and Happy” and Check out my recommended product “Only Natural Pet Balm”)

Dressing your Senior Dog for the weather.

As dogs age, they have problems regulating their bodies temperatures. If they have certain other issues (such as Cushing’s Disease) this is even more of an issue. You need to ensure that your senior dog is outfitted with a warm coat and boots to help take the chill off. There are many styles of coats as well as fabrics. (Read my post of “Puppy Its Cold Outside”) so your senior dog will not only be warm but look good as well!

My Jackie loves her doggie beds

At my house Jackie has a number of beds in the house that she can use. In the winter we use warmer tops and in the summer cooler tops. Your senior dog will benefit from this and can find a place that’s just the right temperature to lie down. A fleece blanket on top of a dog bed will make it even cozier, warmer and a little softer. Some owners even look at treating their seniors to an electric blanket. Just ensure you are watching for over heating or burning of your pet. (Check out our product category Dog Beds & Houses)

Ensuring a proper diet in winter months

During the winter season a proper diet for your senior dog is even more important. Have a conversation with your vet about your senior dog’s activity and dietary needs. All dogs can benefit form a bit more food to keep warm during the winter. This is the time of year you can give your dogs a little extra food, but be sure not to overdo it! Seniors dogs can put on weight quite easily.

Watch out for slippery surfaces.

Every human knows that ice can be dangerous and that we need to be careful on it, but dogs don’t quite understand this. As you see your dogs, no matter whether they are senior or a puppy, skid across the ice and legs splay out! Not good for our senior pets. They may not have the strength to get back up. Here is where dog boots with traction like the ones I have for Jackie come in handy. (Read my post of “Keeping our Dogs Paws Healthy and Happy” and Check out my recommended “Doggie Boots“)

Above all enjoy your winter wonderland walk with your senior pet

So when we are getting ourselves ready for a winter wonderland walk, make sure that we also take the time to get our senior pets ready for that extra special walk in the glistening snow. It’s our responsibility as owners of very young or senior pets to take extra care during the winter months.  Enjoy your winter wonderland walk with your senior dog, I know I love taking Jackie out when the snow has just fallen and the moonlight glistens on it and its very quiet…!