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Old dogs - better with time

Updated on November 12, 2014

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.

Roc - now and then
Roc - now and then

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 adorable

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Roc loves sitting in the sun.Sun worshipper Roc.We raised him right! He loves watching sports on tv and his favorite is Da Bears!Roc went to work with me from the first.Roc's first obedience qualifying ribbon.Best place to sleep? The back of the couch, of course!Just hanging out."I'm sitting," Roc says. "Where's my cookie?"
Roc loves sitting in the sun.
Roc loves sitting in the sun.
Sun worshipper Roc.
Sun worshipper Roc.
We raised him right! He loves watching sports on tv and his favorite is Da Bears!
We raised him right! He loves watching sports on tv and his favorite is Da Bears!
Roc went to work with me from the first.
Roc went to work with me from the first.
Roc's first obedience qualifying ribbon.
Roc's first obedience qualifying ribbon.
Best place to sleep? The back of the couch, of course!
Best place to sleep? The back of the couch, of course!
Just hanging out.
Just hanging out.
"I'm sitting," Roc says. "Where's my cookie?"
"I'm sitting," Roc says. "Where's my cookie?"

Always a team

After a tough obedience or rally trial Roc and I always found some time to relax.

Roc comes along
Roc comes along

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

Do you have an aging dog?

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    • shay-marie profile image

      Shay Marie 4 years ago from Southern California

      Not right now, but my family's dog was very old when I was in college. She was a crotchety mess, but I loved her dearly.

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      Not yet - my oldest, Hannah, is 9 - perhaps she's slowing down a bit. Roc's lovely - a real beauty - I hope you have much more time together.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Yes Chance is my little old girl. She will be 13 years old this year. Her health is not so good now. I love my dog Chance.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I sure enjoyed meeting you and Roc through reading this lens and could feel the love you have for him. Thank you for sharing. We have had a number of aging dogs but right now have a wide open 2 year old.

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