Monday, January 3, 2011

Old dogs

A friend told me of a man who knew who had cared for and loved his dog for many years and upon its death the man felt so much grief and so much loss that he vowed never to let another creature enter his life.

My friend, knowing this would only fuel the man's emptiness and despair, encouraged him to get another dog as soon as possible and reluctantly the man agreed with one provision, "I'll adopt another dog but I won't let it be my friend, we'll just be roommates," the man insisted.

A few days later my friend met the man walking his new dog down the street and was startled to notice that the dog was old and lame.

"I see you've found another companion," my friend said to the man, but how is it that this dog looks older than your last companion?"

"He is old, in fact he was the oldest, most worn out looking dog in the shelter and when I looked at him his eyes seemed to say, 'I know you're not here for me but thank you for stopping a moment or two; you remind me of my old friend who left me, I don't know why."

"In that instant," my friend said, "the man understood they had both lost something that only the other could return, a last chance. He adopted him on the spot."

If you have an older dog or if you can, adopt one, you'll have the friend for life and so will he.

  1. Show him your love and devotion and treat him with respect. After a lifetime, and so many years of unconditional love a dog is able to give, there comes a time when it is you who has to show how much you care. Even more than people, a dog can sense who loves him and cares for him, and this will instantly invigorate him.
  2. If you live in a two-story house and the dog is used to being upstairs, move him downstairs, but tending to his every need and making the environment attractive so that he doesn’t feel left out. Some of your own activities may have to be moved downstairs to keep him company.
  3. In the early stages of disease, make his environment comfortable and hazard-free to enable the use, for as long as possible, of the majority of his physical capabilities. There are special steps to help him get out of the car or get off the bed without having to take a big jump that could damage his bones and joints faster.
  4. Do not deprive him of his beloved walks and quality time outside; it keeps him active and alive. Instead, support him with an appropriate harness and help him maintain his pace and activity level for as long as possible.
  5. When he is no longer able to walk by himself, do not treat him like an invalid; instead, enable him to move as he used to. Get him a wheelchair or special cart to support his body. He won’t even notice it and will continue to be his old self for quite some time.


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