February 17, 2004

Old dogs and new tricks

We have two dogs, a two year old Toy Poodle named Trix and a ten year old Terrier named Sam. And although we've almost always had at least one dog (and had as many as three), because of being in the military, we’ve never had a dog long enough to get old before*. We’re getting into new territory for us when it comes to Sam.

If human grandpa gets old and cranky, you deal with it. Same with an old dog, to a point, because even though he’s part of the family, it’s still a pet. I understand people who spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on vet bills for an elderly or sick pet, but I wouldn’t do it myself. I think some people wait too long to put down a beloved pet, sometimes you just have to let go.

Sam is getting older. He’s still got a lot of play in him, and he gets around pretty good. He’s some years from the end, but he’s at the age where I’m beginning to think about it.

Lately, he’s taken to peeing on the floor in the house. He’ll go into the pantry and lift his leg against the garbage can, or downstairs in my workshop or the basement. Like a cranky old man, he doesn't take correction well, and it's getting worse. Why is he doing this? It might be the cold weather bothering his old bones, I don't know. He still goes out (we've got a doggie door to the backyard) during the day, so I'd almost think it was lazyness. Stubborn? I'd believe that before lazy.

Have you ever gone through this with a pet? How did you handle it?

*Rather than put our dogs into quarantine for some months overseas, we'd find him or her a good home before we moved. Hard to do, but better. We got Sam after I got out, and he was a couple years old when we got him.

Posted by Ted at February 17, 2004 11:56 AM
Category: Seriously

Hm. Our dog is being treated with prednisone right now and it's making her incontinent, so I've lined the floor with those plastic-backed soak-up pads, I expect to be mopping every time I get home, and I'm blocking off anywhere I don't want her peeing (i.e., places I can't mop...not that I want her peeing in the house at all.) But we have a light at the end of the tunnel there as she has her dosage reduced. For a dog that's just old...maybe it is senility, could be prostate or kidney problems, could be you pissed him off (no pun intended.)
Ten years doesn't seem that old for a dog, though, particularly not a smaller breed.

Posted by: nic at February 17, 2004 01:24 PM

I haven't had much experience with dogs, I've never owned one. But from what I hear, and as nic said, smaller dogs tend to live much longer than larger breeds. I've known dachsunds and small terriers to live happily past fifteen years barring any serious injuries or diseases. As long as he's got play left in him and he's not literally dragging his ass across the rug I say he's fine.

On a similar note, we had to put down my human grandpa. He would also pee all over the house and we tried everything, but to no avail. Too bad, really--he was fun to drink with.

Posted by: Rzo at February 17, 2004 02:22 PM

I have had pets that I watched being born, then years later, watched die. It was hard, but it taught me not to become to attached to my animals.

Posted by: Rocket Man at February 17, 2004 06:55 PM

Vets tend to give the following rule of thumb:

If the dog still enjoys eating treats, he's still enjoying life.

Make of it what you will.

Posted by: SayUncle at February 18, 2004 11:29 AM

When my dog got a little on in years he started peeing on the floor...turned out he was diabetic. If your dog isn't drinking more water than normal, it's not likely to be the same thing, but you should have him checked out.

Posted by: Jennifer at February 18, 2004 04:11 PM
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