I had some friends stop by for a visit over the holidays. My senior Lab Mix, Buddy has known these folks a long time, but hadn’t seen them for over a year. They were a little disturbed the Bud Man didn’t behave in his typical friendly manner toward them. I explained poor old Buddy was getting up there in years and couldn’t see or hear them anymore. The old man will be fifteen in May. He’s still healthy, but is definitely feeling his age.
I decided to do a little research on changes in behavior for senior dogs. Our pets actually do experience most of the same aging issues we humans do. Hearing loss and deteriorating vision were obvious, but did you know our pets suffer declining memory too? It was a “slap a palm to my forehead” moment. I’ve never considered the Bud Man might be losing his memory. That explained why he didn’t recognize our friends.
I started paying attention to our daily activities. Buddy may shuffle around the house on his three good legs and sleep a lot, but when it’s time for a walk nothing stops him. Sometimes he stops at corners and is a little confused. Poor sight and an aging memory are the suspects here.
I’ve started to treat our daily exercise like a memory game. Every day we take a thirty minute walk (he has no trouble remembering the exact time of day) on our favorite trails. I take the same route for a few days in a row and then change things up. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but Buddy eventually remembers the altered routes. It helps his memory and we both have fun.
Caring for a senior pet takes extra time and love, but they’re very worth it. I’m going to remember the lessons I’ve learned from caring for Buddy. Any new pet that comes along will reap the benefits of what he’s taught me. Daily exercise, organic/ gluten free food and treats, special attention in keeping teeth healthy and lots of love. That is the secret to Buddy’s long life. I’m not sure how much longer he will be with us, but I’m committed to making the time happy and healthy for him.
Final Thought: An active mind in both Humans and Pets makes for a healthy lifestyle. I’ve made it a point to keep my Pets mentally active and challenged. Since the day Buddy chose me at the adoption event, we’ve found and traveled new trails together. Though he can’t walk as far or as long, I still take Buddy to the national parks around Colorado for our weekend adventures. When is the last time you challenged yourself? Get out there and have an adventure…and take your Buddy with you!