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I have been able to sustain a lot of denial about the fact that my Jester dog is getting old, because, well, he is a border collie, and as my vet likes to say "He has a lot of Heart". But recently, although I have not mentioned it to him, I have had to admit it to myself. A few days ago I was in the front part of the property (unfenced) throwing a toy for him. These days, I don't throw it as far as I used to, and it needs to be a big, bright toy, and I wait until I see where he is going and try to throw it right in front of him, or he loses it. He doesn't see or hear all that well any more, but he is just as eager to fetch anything that can be thrown, and still wants his play twice a day so that is what we do.

 

I had tossed the toy right in front of him and had turned away to speak to one of the other dogs, looked back, and could not see Jes. Calling, calling. Jes is mostly deaf now, so clapping my hands. But also walking around looking for him, because his directional hearing is shot and when I call he can't tell where I am.

 

I was looking for Kit, too, because she will always tell me where Jes is, or where the toy is. She is like a loving wife who takes care of Jester. If he can't find the toy, she grabs it and takes it close to him, then stands there staring intensely at it until he sees her and finds the toy.

 

Kit was staring off the end of our property, so I headed over there and found Jes with the toy in his mouth staring with a puzzled look on his face through the fence on the other side of the road. I could tell that he was trying to figure out how he got on the wrong side of the fence; was thinking that I was in that direction instead of behind him. I always come up behind him and touch him gently in that kind of circumstance, so as not to startle him.

 

But it made me realize that I need to keep a closer eye on him these days. Neither Jes nor Kit would ever leave the property, but Jes did that day just out of confusion.

 

It's hard to see one so strong and vital become weaker, and I don't much like it. But what strikes me is that Jes really doesn't seem to notice, or to mind if he does. Where I would be frustrated at not being able to do what I used to do, Jes is just happy that I am throwing something, happy to have dinner and his bedtime biscuit, happy to lie in the sun, happy to lean against me for pets.

He may be a dog who is getting old but he is still a good teacher.

 

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My first thought, even before I read your last sentence, is that dogs are good teachers.

 

If only we listen they teach us how to value what we have rather than what we wish we had and to savor even the smallest of pleasures. They teach us great lessons about impermanence and living in the present moment.

 

I'm so sorry that Jester's getting old, but he's been your faithful friend for a long time. I'm happy you can share his joy for a while longer.

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I have two oldies, one who turned 13 in August and one who turned 13 in November. I know I am in denial that either of them are older and getting older, that problems will increase and not decrease, and that I will have to face serious issues and/or decisions over the next couple of years or so at best. I'm having lots of problems with this as I'm also facing aging of my own.

 

Thank you for your words. They are helpful and inspiring.

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Yes, this brings back memories of my Ritz. A sheltie mix that I adopted when she was ~ 3 1/2 years old, and shared our lives for about 16 years. Other than not being able to go up or down steps for the last 18-24 months (we would have to carry her up to and down from our bedroom several times a day as she became quite anxious when downstairs), she seemed to gracefully age despite lack of hearing and eyesight. She still had her nose and her appetite, and seemed to enjoy petting. (She was never a very cuddly dog.)

 

We made many accommodations for her as she aged, but they were gone from my mind when I saw her sniffing around the ground or lifting her nose to smell the breeze, doing her little happy run around the house and excitedly hanging around the kitchen while I was preparing pet meals. Even when she would go to her favorite place at the top of the hill where she often sat to watch her 'kingdom' (although she probably couldn't see anymore), I think that the routine was important to her.

 

Leaky eyes.

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Reminds me of my old Jesse. He got nearly stone deaf and once he headed in a direction, you had to run after him and get his attention to turn him back. But he stayed happy until the end, just barking at the younger dogs' play, carrying a ball in his mouth or once in a while dawdling after sheep. It hurt my heart to see my good old man getting frail and slow, but ... he was happy. He enjoyed life. He did his little thing and seemed to take aging as but a minor inconvenience.

He made it easier on me, that way. I worry, now, if my boy Nick, now coming age 8, will age so gracefully and painlessly. If he will be willing to give up the exuberant, vital things that make him who he is. Or if he'll pine as his body slows and begins to fail him.

I fervently pray the only one pining will be me. Love to your dear old Jester. :wub:

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Old dogs are wonderfully special, but so sad for us as well. Your story brought back memories of my own Jester who was not a border collie, but was named well when young, but matured into a matronly middle aged and then old lady who just aged gracefully and gradually, with us believing she would be around forever.

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Our First Dog (the one who got us to dogs and then to Border Collies) is well into 15. As healthy as he's ever been though mostly blind and deaf. Getting increasingly dottery and experiencing cognitive decline. I enjoy him so much and feel such tenderness for him. I never would have guessed how much my attachment to him would change as he aged. He's never been a favorite dog but he taught me the most about living with dogs and clearly still is.

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I have magically morphed from 'no treats for you unless we are working on the start of a big goal, big scary noises when you do something wrong' person to 'naww you get a treat because you're making a cute face, it's okay that you misbehaved we'll do better next time' person as the dogs get older.

 

Which is weird because I'm still Miss Strictpants, typical-grumpy-bitch with younger dogs. I am a better dog owner with older dogs for some reason. Well, 'better' in terms of their enjoyment- they do get away with a bit more and I suspect that younger dogs would become more ill-behaved if raised like that.

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Thanks for the replies. It is good to read them and to hear others echoing my own feelings. Yeah, Jester gets away with a lot these days that I would not have allowed in previous years, and so does Kit.


When one dog gets brushed, he or she traditionally always gets a biscuit afterwards. But only that dog gets one, because that way it is special, especially for Boo, who has to tolerate brushing and combing every day. But nowadays, that dog gets a biscuit.........and then, so does Jes, just because he is Jes, and Kit, just because she's Kit, and then............well, I cannot leave Digger the odd man out.

 

I go through more biscuits these days.

 

One thing that bothers me is that Jester never was a very cuddly dog and still is not, and I want to cuddle him now more than ever. But I defer to his preference on that. I learned a long time ago that the best way to let Jes know I love him is to throw something for him, so I do that.

 

You know, you try to "prepare" yourself for the fact that they will not be here for all that much longer, but deep inside me I know there's a part of me that stubbornly thinks that Jes will be here forever. It is hard to imagine who I will be without him.

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You know, you try to "prepare" yourself for the fact that they will not be here for all that much longer, but deep inside me I know there's a part of me that stubbornly thinks that Jes will be here forever. It is hard to imagine who I will be without him.

 

It was exactly the same for me with Speedy. Exactly the same.

 

It's been 2+ years now and I am still not over him in some ways. I miss Sammie and Maddie, but not having Speedy in my life is really still like part of me has been ripped out and there is a hole that will never be filled.

 

You find your way. It's not easy. But you do find your way. New normal and all that . . . you get there. My dogs helped . . . over time.

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You know, you try to "prepare" yourself for the fact that they will not be here for all that much longer, but deep inside me I know there's a part of me that stubbornly thinks that Jes will be here forever. It is hard to imagine who I will be without him.

I got teary eyed today on the bus thinking about how I'll lose Kieran eventually (a little embarrassing). He's only ~5, but the past few years have gone by so quickly...soon it'll be three more and then three more. He's taught me not to take anything for granted. Even my mom said, "You have to appreciate him every day he's here." I don't know how I'll carry on.

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