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  • Writer's pictureTina

Growing Old Is Not For The Weak

I have heard it said that growing old is not for the weak. Truer words were never spoken…sigh. Watching my senior pit bull, Chubby, age breaks my heart. I shared with you that he had acquired anaplasmosis several months ago. My boy has not made a full recovery, and this tick-borne disease has exacerbated the aging process. He went from bouncing around like a pup to walking like a stiff old man. I know he aches and hurts because he constantly licks his front left paw, and on cold days, he whines when he moves. These days, my boy would rather lay on the couch than run through the fields.


In the not-so-distant past, Chubs would go out to the barn with Eric in the morning. He would run the perimeter of the fields, checking for interlopers. The predatory wildlife population did not stand a chance under Chubby’s watch. Raccoons, in particular, posed a serious threat and were taken care of and brought to the front yard, laid proudly under the arborvitae trees for all to see. One had to wait for Chubby to be indoors for the dead critters to be taken far off the property. Otherwise, one would have to fight a losing tug-of-war battle with a pit bull and a dead raccoon.


These days, Chubs does not stir until after lunch. One of us usually checks to make sure the old boy is still breathing if we can’t hear his echoing snores. I have given up the battle of no dogs on the furniture. He is now permitted to lounge at will on the leather couch. However, all upholstered furniture remains off-limits. There are days we have to coax Chubby off the couch with a cookie and bribe him to go outside and do his business. Watching his stiff movements and obvious discomfort tugs at our heartstrings.


Living with arthritis is no walk in the park. I know I feel better when I get up and get moving. Recently, I have started taking Chubby with me on my walks with Buster. While Bus runs ahead, behind, and all over, Chubs walks with me on a leash. Knowing Chubby’s competitive nature, I can envision him overdoing it to try to keep us with Bus. He was indignant about the leash at first, but it has been accepted and has become our thing. The Bibbed Wonder commented that he thinks Chubs is moving better since we have started going on our walks.


Along with controlled exercise, we also give Chubs a prescription anti-inflammatory. He takes the equivalent of ibuprofen for dogs. I put his pills in a delicious people's treat. At this point, it is about enjoying life and quality of life rather than restrictions. He’s earned a hot dog, a cupcake, or peanut butter bread. My guy is 104 in dog years; he’s earned a few treats. Thus far, Chubs is doing well with vetprofen, gentle exercise, and Tempur-Pedic bedding. We help him up on the couch, offer aid with steps, and baby him.


We are not blind to the fact that Chubby plays us. If we want him to do something he does not want to do, he acts like he’s dying. However, when Grambarb shows up with special Chubby treats, he once again bounces around like a pup. Chubs has always had selective hearing, but it has become even more selective since he has gotten sick. He’s a bit spoiled, but isn’t that why we bring them into our lives? He deserves to be loved and spoiled. He has loved us unconditionally his entire life. He has guarded our girl, protected our property, put himself at risk to keep us safe, and he does it all out of love. There is nothing more noble than the adoration of a dog.


I hope when I am old and frail someone gives me a soft place to land. I hope they give me treats I enjoy, hold my hand, check to make sure I am still breathing, and try to make my final days as comfortable as possible. I hope I am worthy of such treatment. We all suffer the same fate. If we’re lucky, we will all get old and frail; our joints will ache, our hearing and eyesight will fail, and we will need assistance and help. Be kind to your aging pets. Treat them with respect, gentleness, and compassion. Just because they can’t do the things they used to do doesn’t mean they are worthless. They loved you well, probably when you didn’t deserve it. Return the favor by staying by their side, offering them comfort, and letting them know how much you appreciate it.


If the day comes when it is more humane to help them cross over, be by their side. Someone I know refused to go with their ailing dog when it was time to put them down. Instead, they sent a neighbor to do it because it was easier for them. That beloved pet died with a stranger in a strange setting. I often think about how Winnie must have been afraid and confused in her final moments. Don’t be selfish; face the hard times and be there for your beloved pet. It’s not pleasant, but it’s the least you can do for someone who has loved you with all their being.


On this chilly January day, stay safe, be smart, be kind and gentle with the elderly, and keep washing your hands.    

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