Old dogs - better with time
It's hard to see him growing old
This is Roc. He's my 12-year-old Brussels Griffon boy. He used to be solid black. He used to be my constant companion - at work, in training, on walks, and on the couch.
Roc's retired now - from obedience competition and from work.
He sleeps more soundly. (I confess: I check to see he's breathing sometimes.)
He's a bit pudgy around the middle - it's even harder to resist those big brown eyes begging for a treat - even when he doesn't do anything to earn it.
He has to go out more often to "do his business." And if I forget to take him, there's a puddle on the kitchen floor to clean.
And he's more precious now than ever.
Caring for older pets
He must have been a beautiful baby
And he was.
The photo on the right was the one that melted my heart. I knew little Roc was my boy before I ever met him. Of course, that's why his breeder sent me that photo. She knew I wouldn't be able to resist and that puppy would have a great home where he would be loved and cared for forever.
I think the photo on the left is equally adorable. Looking at Roc still makes me go "Awwww - isn't he cute?"
Just as there were challenges when he was a puppy (housebreaking, training, teething, terrorizing the other dogs) there are challenges now.
Roc has a heart condition, allergies, and acid reflux. He's a worrier, a watchdog, and a tv addict. He's the smallest dog in the house (there are four now!), so we have to make sure the other dogs are still convinced that the old dog is still in charge. He's developed a problem with his back in the last couple of months; we're keeping the pain under control and we're doing some strengthening exercises.
He's also terrified of feet. Understandable when you're only a foot tall yourself.
Roc - always adorableClick thumbnail to view full-size
Always a team
After a tough obedience or rally trial Roc and I always found some time to relax.
Still my boy
When I'm competing with the younger dog at an agility or obedience trial now, Roc comes along. It's too long a day to leave him home and I like having him with me. In the noise and chaos of a trial, he's a reminder of the important things about having dogs - unconditional love on four legs.
Roc's still a star
Update: Roc is at rest
In September Roc let me know it was time to let him rest.
Many years ago, a friend of mine told me "Euthanasia is the last, best gift we give our pets. We take their pain and make it our own."
And, of course, it's true. I miss him terribly and look for him around every corner, every day. Habits are hard to break. But I know it was the best choice for my boy - he had lost interest in the things he used to love: playing fetch, squeaking his toys, going for walks, watching television.
I don't think I really realized the depth of his pain until the vet administered a sedative and I saw him relax for the first time in years. We had a few cherished moments as things used to be - Roc looked at me again with love, without pain.
I've had many discussions with friends and customers that started with the other person saying they were reluctant to get another pet because they didn't want to face the pain of loss again. I get that. But I know for a fact that their lives are much more important than their deaths. Roc's certainly was. I smile every time I think of my boy. Sometimes through tears, although less often as time goes by.
© 2013 Hope