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13 December 2010

The changing care of ageing pets

Pets become a favourite part of the family very soon after they come into our lives. We feed them, care for them, provide comfort and warmth and make sure they're healthy. Every day I see their faces, they're as familiar to me as Hanno's, but life is relatively short for our pets and in a heart beat they're gone.

Alice, our Airedale Terrier, is 13. We've had her since she was a puppy. She came to us from the same person who bred her Aunty Rosie. It seems like yesterday when we had Rosie here with us too but it's over two years now since she died. Now Alice is declining in health, she's weak and she may not last too much longer. She's deaf and can't see properly because she has cataracts. She is very thin, although she's still eating a lot, she's incontinent at times, she has a lot of growths - the vet says they're similar to the growths old ladies get, her hair is thinning, and she often stumbles when she walks. She spends most of her day in bed in the kitchen, either asleep or watching Hanno and I as we go about our daily chores.

There are times when she's alert and runs around like a puppy. She likes to walk out to the front gate with Hanno or I to bring in the bins or close the gate. She still sniffs her way around our boundary fences every time she's out there. When she knows it's dinner time, she comes looking for us and bounces around like a clown. Yep, there are plenty of signs of the younger Alice still there, but there is nothing the vet can do for Alice. She is nearing the end of her life, she has leaking heart valves, so we have to accept that and make her as comfortable as we can.

And we have to enjoy every day we have with her and take lots of photos.

Pets require a different kind of care when they're young, during their prime and when they age. You need to adjust what you do and keep on the lookout for signs of ageing. We decided Alice needed a softer bed. She's slept on the same bed for a number of years but with no fat on her body and not as much hair, she needed a softer, warmer bed. Hanno bought a nice piece of thick foam rubber a couple of weeks ago. It supports her weight nicely and I think she'd find it's a big improvement on the older bed. Yesterday I made a cover for it. Her bedding needs to be changed quite frequently now so we need two such covers. I'll do up another one during the week. We're also feeding her three times a day now. She has two Weetbix with milk for breakfast, a raw chicken carcass or a raw egg flip for lunch and her usual homemade dog food for dinner. Apart from that she drinks water and she has the occasional piece of toast or biscuit.

Hettie is our white cat. She's a bit older than Alice and she's slowing down too. She's never been a wanderer but sometimes she used to go into the bush near the house, now she sleeps on a table or a chair on the back verandah all day. At night she sleeps on a soft bed on another table a bit further back. She's still in reasonably good health but she can't jump like she used to. She hesitates and has a few tries at jumping on the table where she is fed. I moved a chair closer to her second table so she can get up there easily. Hettie's meals haven't changed much; we do buy the senior biscuits for her now.

They give us a lot of pleasure, these animals, and it will be a sad day here when they die. I clearly remember the day we buried Rosie under the Banksia Rose in the backyard. We were both devastated. I used to think we'd get another dog straight away when Alice died, but now I'm not so certain of that. I don't want to think about a time when she's not here so that decision will have to wait. I am sure those of you with pets will know how we feel. How have you looked after your ageing pets?


49 comments:

  1. I have a cat who is very special to me and is now 10 - I've had him (or he has had me, I'm not sure which) since he was 12 weeks old. He likes to sleep on the top shelf of the wardrobe, but was having difficulty getting up there using just the chair and the windowsill so I bought a "cat tree" which he can use as a ladder. It's not a thing of great beauty to have in the bedroom, but it's his bedroom too and it helps him get to his cosy bed easily :-)

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  2. Hi Rhonda,

    I can certainly relate. We lost our 14 year old dog, Molly, in the spring. Our 12-year old husky, Lucy seems a lot like your Alice, with her short-bursts of energy that remind us the puppy she once was. After Molly died, I was going through the old photos of her on canoeing trips, jumping high off the rocks out into the water. Remembering how she used to be, and then comparing it to her senior slow years, somehow made it easier to cope with her passing. It was her time.
    We also have a 14 year old cat Beatrice that is pretty slow and keeps to herself more and more.
    Our barn cat, Smokey has also retired and joined us in the house. We aren't sure how old he is, but he had done his job well for some years and we like his company. He's picked out his favorite bedding spots and he prefers not going outside in the winter.
    Animals certainly add to our lives.

    I'm enjoying your blog on a regular basis.
    Thanks.
    N

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  3. Rhonda Jean: I like your post, it is so true. I had two different Border Collies. I was lucky enough to have both of them live till they were 14 and 15. It was a very sad day when I had to make the decision to put them to sleep. I loved those dogs they were,part of my family. I still get sad when I think of them gone.I miss them terribly.
    I don't have any pets now except for my cows. I am afraid to go through that again. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  4. Caring for an aging pet is a true labor of love. We had to put down our 14 year old Cockapoo in September due to a huge tumor. It was the hardest and easiest decision we made for Betty in the short time we had her ( she was a rescue who wasn't supposed to life past 11). It wasn't until she was gone that we realized how much of our day was taken up with care for her. Something that we would do again for her in a heartbeat.

    Three weeks later, another little pup showed up on our doorstep. He looks so much like Betty except that he is white and a boy! We weren't planning on getting another dog, we still had 3 after Betty was gone. But Buddy, the new addition, has helped our family heal and love again, people and pups included. :)

    Alice, is obviously well loved for, Hettie too!

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  5. Our border collie is very much like Alice. Molly is almost 15, with heart disease, thin, stumbles a lot, hard of hearing and can't see that well. She is under vet care and we are making sure that what life she has left is comfortable and happy. We don't want her to suffer and we will make the right decision when the time comes. But yes, we are devastated to realise that soon we will be without her - she has been such a joy in our lives and we will miss her. We do have another old dog who is 10, we have decided we will get another dog but not until Ben has gone - time for him to have us to himself for a little while :)

    sending many hugs to your gorgeous Alice :)

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  6. I have spent the last three years proclaiming our old Kelpie x will not 'see another winter' or 'summer'... She is now heading into her 18th year and we can't believe it. She needs to be chaperoned now when she walks around the house as her legs have a habit of giving way. She is deaf and her teeth have ground down so she drools quite a bit. But her lungs and heart are fine, say the vets, and we have done so well to get her to this age without any need for supportive meds (she is now on pain relief and cortisone for a collapsed larynx). Every time she knows we're up, she's up. She HAS to sit and see me, usually in the kitchen, and she has been my child for nigh on 16 years when we could not achieve a pregnancy that stayed. Through all our losses, our dog Pepper has been an absolute godsend.

    And to all those who suggest I put her to sleep (and they do!), I've asked the vets and they simply say.... 'why would you?' which makes me feel so relieved!

    Loved this post, Rhonda, truly loved it. Pets are divine.

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  7. Alice is so beautiful. Our Airedale Arthur is only a young fella but already he's part of our family and the thought of ihim not being here seems unbearable. I had a dog growing up who died suddenly and it took a long time to get over her - even just the small stuff like going to let her out even months after she'd died. Its tough, but like you say - we just have to appreciate every day with them.

    Great post - thanks for making me think x

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  8. My mini poodle is now 12 years old. I got her when I moved to Australia. She was only 9 weeks old. In the last 12 years, we experienced good and bad times together and now she is slowing down greatly. I took her to the vet for annual vaccination last week but ended up getting lots of tablets to take. She still loves her walks but she now takes shorter walk. I know she won't be around too much longer but she still looks happy having a quiet life. I just watch her closely and find what she needs. She will be greatly missed when she goes.

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  9. I understand perfectly!
    We have 4 dogs, none of them young. Our Boxer is getting to the point where she is incontinent much of the time. I'm currently looking at herbal remedies to help her with that situation, as I don't like to use drugs or chemicals with her if I can at all help it. I too have extra bedding that I change every day for her, and for the others as well. They like nice, clean beds just like we do! Their diet has been altered, as well as exercise to accommodate their age. We know we only have them for a short time, so we do what we can to create a good environment for our senior family members.

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  10. My heart ached when I read your post. Our pets are (and always have been)such a big part of our life. Over the years have had to say goodbye to so many wonderful "friends". Each time seems harder than the next. At the moment we have Mickey and Buffy (brother and sister) 10 years old Blue Heelers - fiercely loyal and protective. They have been part of our family since birth and I can't even begin to imagine what life will be without them. Dolly P and Dixie Chick (our 2 moggies) are a few years younger and still going strong. I think the thing with ageing pets is to keep them comfortable and to treat them with respect. It also means that when their "time" finally comes you have to be able to put aside your own emotions and make the right decision for them. Afterall they are not able to do it for themself. This is when you need to step up to the plate and truly be their "best friend".
    Lots of pats and cuddles to Alice....;)Sharyne

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  11. I can relate, we had two black Lab's as my children grew up, when the children moved on in life, I kept the dogs here at home, and I was the one to watch the aging...and I Loved Them, as much as my children, and the day they left and went to heaven, I cried and cried some more...it was so hard to lose such faithful, loving, companions..
    We now have a flame point simaese cat named Harley , and I dread the day....
    ~~HUGS~~

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  12. Yes, it is so sad when your pets start getting older. It is so great that you provie such a wonderful life for them.

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  13. I'm so sorry about Alice. I have a kitten (my first pet in over 10 years)and he quickly took over the run of the house. Even though it's been a short time, I can't imagine my life without Jeffrey. I pray that Alice is comfortable and that you'll have strength when the time comes that she is no longer with you.

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  14. My thoughts are with you both. I had to make the dreaded decision to put my 19 year old dog to sleep earlier this year. She was not eating, wobbly on her feet and the lump she had on her lip was starting to bleed. As hard as it was now I feel a tremendous sense of peace when I think of her. Like you our pets are our family and to face the thought that one might be gone soon was and is incredibly heart breaking. Give Alice a hug for me.

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  15. Our pets are all aging as well. George is my German Shepard/wolf.He has outlived his lifespan by 2 years already. He no longer cares for the flock of sheep or cares to look at a cow. He would rather sleep in the warm kitchen away from arthritic aches and pains. Clinton is 13 a black cat born and raised in the barn. he has always been afraid of his own shadow, but now shadows do not disturb him much. They are just visions in his blurry world.
    My children think I can't live without a dog. I have yet to be tested on this matter, but like you I am not sure I wish to endure having to go through it all again. Maybe I will retire from having pets. Maybe not. Time will tell.

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  16. they still look very happy, and that's so important.
    Up until last year I had a very ancient cat called Pixie. She was 24. I'd had her for more than half my life! She was diabetic for the last few years and had 2 insulin injections a day - in the evening she'd come running into the living room and jump on the sofa to tell us it was time to have her evening one! She had had 2 strokes, but recovered and still wandered around the garden. Then one day she didnt come for her breakfast. I went to look for her and found her sleeping in the woolshed, when I woke her up I realised shed had a third stroke and couldn't walk properly and her eye had gone squint. I took her to the vet and we just knew her time had come. She'd had a long, long life. My brother put it best, he told me
    "she was such a lovely wee thing. You couldn't have given her a better life. She started off on her own in a flat in Drumchapel and moved on to have the freedom to roam all over a farm in New Zealand with lots of other friends. It's difficult to image that cat heaven could be much better than your place!"

    It made me howl but he was right. Sorry I have rambled on long enough, but my animals are so important to me - I get carried away!!

    my word verification was pedpurr!

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  17. This is certainly a great post for all of us pet owners. It's funny to see that our pets own us instead of the other way around, but I don't think any of us would have it any other way. My 10 year old baby Cecilio is my dear companion. He's a big guy - not fat - but long and tall. He stole my heart from the first time I laid eyes on him. I still remember that day - he was hiding in the bushes and I was gardening outside when all of the sudden this tiny kitten pounced at my hands. We've been together pretty much ever since.
    I don't even want to think of the day when he is no longer around. I know a big part of my heart will go with him.
    Alice is very lucky to have you and Hanno. Please give her a big hug from my CC and I.

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  18. Rhonda,
    I have 3 dogs - one is ten, one will be ten in a few months and my youngest just turned 8. I see the decline in the oldest ones and it is hard to watch.

    Sam - the youngest has hip dysplasia and arthritis very badly. The vet calls this the "Care and Comfort" stage. Surgically, there is nothing we can do. He is on medication now and we are hoping it will work for a long time. There will come a time when we will have to make the decision to let him go and it is going to be the hardest thing I ever do. This boy is the love of my life, but there is no way I will let him suffer.

    It is so hard to let them go, isn't it?

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  19. Thank Goodness Alice has you and Hano Rhonda, what a moving post, it's all too infrequent that we hear of the care and love shown to our furry friends and so this warms my heart.
    Hugs,
    Vicki

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  20. Our cat is now 21. He has lost his two front teeth, cant hear and is getting cataracts. He also is wobbly some times but gets around pretty good. He cant jump as well anymore either. We love him very much and couldnt imagine being without him. He even lived through a flood and was rescued by a volunteer fireman with a rope. I really hope he goes in his sleep but if and when he begins to be in a lot of pain we will make the right decision for him.

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  21. We've had tremendous success with our dog's health with herbs (as recommended by Isabell Shipard). We give our dog fresh Gotu Kola leaves (four a day) and a pinch of dried Herb Robert in his food everyday. The GK helped his eyesight significantly and gives him lots of energy. Plus it grows wild in the lawn. The vet is amazed at how well he is. Give Alice a pat for me!

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  22. After our previous dog died, Misty who we referred to as our Old Lady, we waited about a year before we decided we were ready to get another dog. That's when we got our Frasier, who was probably around 4 or 5 then and is now closer to 10. He's showing signs of age, white hairs on his muzzle and so forth but still thinks he's a puppy. Our daughter's beagle, Maggie Moo, is about 5 or 6 now and still a typical crazy beagle. They are very much a part of the family, it's amazing how fast that happens. We haven't had to adjust their food, but probably will start feeding them a mix for older dogs. Frasier is part German Shephard and they can have joint issues, so we want to be proactive on it. Other than that, we haven't had to make any other adjustments. They are indoor dogs. With Misty, she was a stray we took in and she would not come inside the house for anything. She had a comfortable dog house with bedding, and seemed happy there. We tried everything to get her inside, but she had signs of abuse before we got her and think that might have been why whe refused to come inside. It took her months to get where she would even stay in the same part of the yard when my husband was outside, she did not like men at all. She finally warmed up to him, after we'd had her for about 5 years and that was shortly before we had to put her down due to heart issues. It just took her that long to realize that he wasn't going to hurt her.

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  23. The approaching loss of an elderly beloved pet is such a bitter sweet time, elderly pets are even more special in their ways. I lost two old dogs earlier this year and have another aged 12 who is showing all the ageing signs. My old dogs are allowed the comfort of sleeping/living in my bed, however they are not quite as big as Alice! They wear continence protection belly bands for boys or knickers for girls as necessary indoors. Many have had the leaky heart valves, one had it from age 2 but he made 12 years and was worth every minute of care.

    A gentle hug for Alice from me and a nose sniff from my furkids.

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  24. We've lost a lot of pets in the last few years and being on a farm they all had to earn their keep in their prime. The 3 horses were between 22-30yrs and were fed warm mashes, groomed and rugged when necessary and just layed down to sleep and never woke up. The 14 year old kelpie, Keli wouldn't go until DH came home from work then she sighed, wagged her tail and was no more and the 21 year old tabby cat, Bindi went out to sleep in the shade in the grass after her breakfast mush and kept on 'sleeping'. There will always be animals becoming elderly here and unless they can't eat or are in extreme pain they will go when it suits them to do so and we will care for them according to their needs until then.

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  25. Alice looks a very contented old lady, as does your lovely white cat.

    Our two Border Collies are 12 years and 13 years old. Their needs do change, but keeping a good quality of life is the most important thing. When our last dog died, aged 14 years, we were devastated. Getting a new dog of a different breed worked for us, as you are not "replacing" the lost pet, but giving a home to a completely new one.

    Wishing your two "girls" a good while longer in their loving home with you.

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  26. My Lucy our dalmation was given to me by my husband
    while we were dating, she's 15 now. We've been blessed to have her with us for so long, but she too has all the same problems your aging dog has. It's very difficult to watch her struggle to stand, stumble, and often she wanders like she's very confused. Sometimes we get frustrated when she makes a mess in the house, then we feel horrible and go kiss and love on her and thank the Lord she is still with us. I will be devastated when her time comes. My heart goes out to you and your pets, you certainly aren't alone. Hugs-Carrie

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  27. Dear Rhonda,

    Our dogs are young (3yrs), but they are definitely like family. I have thought a few times about the lifespan of our dogs, and it's completely impossible to imagine life without them.

    All of your animals seem very lucky to have you. So many owners neglect the comfort of their pets, but you so clearly care.

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  28. Hi, I know how difficult it is seeing a beloved pet reach this stage in life. We lost two pets this Autumn, out dog Shane died aged 16, he was a wonderful dog, and we loved him dearly, but he also had a good and very long life for a dog which he enjoyed to the last couple of days when we had to make a difficult decision. I was very upset at his loss but oddly, it was easier to accept because he had lived a long and happy life.

    My other loss this Autumn was my cat Beryl. She died very suddenly at age 8 after we found her collapsed on the dining room floor on Sunday morning. We rushed her to the vet but and he did what he could but she died from an aneurism on her lung. This was much more traumatic because the death was unexpected, sudden and she didn't go peacefully. Shane's very peaceful end after a good life was so much easier to cope with.

    Your wonderful pets Alice and Hetty have had good and very happy lives much loved by their owners and this will make it easier for you when the time does come.

    In the meantime enjoy them for everyday that you have together because it is so much more important to enjoy the loving company that your pets give you than to fret over what will hopefully be a natural and peaceful end to a life well lived.

    It really does help to have saved enough for the vets bills when the end does come as that will reduce some of the worry.

    I enjoy reading your blog very much.

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  29. My cats are 15yo and 18yo. I've had the 18yo, Magenta, since she was a kitten and Charlie, the 15yo, came to me from the street when he was about 2yo. Even though Charlie is younger, he appears older than Magenta...maybe due to his time as a stray or maybe just because of his genes.

    In the past year we've added wet food to their usual dry food and it's a become a given that they will be curling up next to us to sleep every night. For Yule, we are going to make them tuna-based cat treats and put cat nip in their stocking. They've always had yearly visits to the vet, but we'll be discussing more frequent trips come March.

    I tear up each time I think about them not being here. Even when they are annoying, they each are a beloved member of this family.

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  30. I am sorry to hear this,I had two puppies who came from a bad breeder and died recently.It was devestating for me and my two little girls. Our pets are part of our family:)

    http://www.singleparentingvoluntarysimplicty.com/

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  31. It's so very devastating when a four-legged member of the family starts to decline. Each are unique in personality and leave a footprint on our hearts. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

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  32. We lost our old border collie two months ago. She couldn't hear anymore and I think she was quite blind as well. I used to find her with her head in the spice shelf, sniffing away. Her sense of smell was about the only thing she had left! Jerry and I were both especially tender toward in her last year. She taught us compassion for the years not too far ahead of us in her old age.

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  33. We lost our precious little dog Bridget last March. She was 13. I said I would never get another pet. WE have a dog that we rescued six years ago. So,no more pets. it hurts too much to lose them. but I just got a little kitten from thre pound. She needed me....sigh...

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  34. I have four dogs and every time I think about them dying, I start crying. One is 9, 2 are 8 and 1 is 2. Jasmine is my favorite (one of the 8 year olds). She's been my adventure buddy. She lives to run and it's been so fun being active with her. This spring, she tore her ACL and had to have replacement surgery. Since then, she has also developed arthritis in that leg. All the dogs have a kennel in our bedroom upstairs but the stairs are hard for her to tackle on her rough days and even on good days she doesn't usually make the climb. So to help her out, we got a couch for the living room that is just hers. It has a heated pad on it to help with any pain from the cold weather. And we have been warned that her genetics mean she will need to have the same surgery on the other leg eventually so we get to start saving up for it now.

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  35. We are thinking of Alice and send up lots of Airezen for you and her.
    Big Airehugs,
    Inky and Molly

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  36. My heart goes out to you. I had to say goodby to Larry, my 18-year old black cat last September and I miss him terribly. Yes, they are absolutely family members.

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  37. Dear Rhonda,
    It is such a wonder, the love our pets so freely give us!

    For us our chickens also hold such a special place in our hearts. All our dear chickens were killed by dogs this summer, even our two 8 year old hens. We were heartbroken! And felt so horrid that we slept through the whole thing!

    We hand raised new 3 day old peeps in a large cage in our house for two months. Our six young girls are in a reinforced, hot-wired, movable pen on our back lawn. They bring us such joy and yes, even love.

    Inside we have two cats that add so much to the quality of my life through their love and attentiveness. I know how difficult it will be to say goodbye in a few short years, and that is constantly in the back of my mind.

    My dh is not a dog lover so we haven't had dogs in our lives since the boys have grown up and move out on their own. Dh's does have a love for chickens and parrots so....
    We also have two parrots- Libby is our blue and gold macaw and Evergreen is our eclectus.. Both have the potential of outliving us by many years. It's a relief to not have that worry, instead we must plan for their future once we are gone.

    Life is short....we must make time to express our love to all those, both two legged and four legged blessings we have the honor of sharing our lives with!

    Merry Christmas!
    Julie from Arizona

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  38. I have a cat who's coming into her 22nd year. She sounds just like your Alice, Rhonda...deaf, a little blind with cataracts, thin, her once glossy black coat id now rusty red and grey, she stumbles when she walks...but she can still skip up the stairs at meal time. I feed her when she asks now, she eats such a tiny amount, and the poor love usually forgets where her food is, evn if it's under her nose, or bottom sometimes. It's like taking care of a baby.

    Unlike your two sensible geriatrics, Pandora refuses to sleep anywhere but where she decides, despite having a cat size hammock, a soft bed with a sheepskin, and various rugs around the place. She sleeps on hard floors, under the worm farm, on top of the left over timbers from my renovation, out in the rain. It's hard to see it, but apart from locking her in, which distresses her, there's not much I can do.

    Her favourite place is up the yard with the chooks, I often find her spread out looking quite dead, with the chooks either scratching happily around her, or all sitting with her.

    I think providing a different kind of care to our elderly pets brings a whole new meaning to patience and love and friendship.

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  39. Hi Rhonda,
    I love pets and reading you post reminds me of the pain of loosing them.
    I have young pets now, and also an old cat, Pinta, who is 17 years old. She has accompanied most of my adult life, so she is a witness of my personal history.
    Best of luck for you (and family) and lovely Alice.

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  40. I laughed when Hubby brought home our new puppy almost 13 years ago. He had paid $20 bucks for a mixed labrador/retriever. Who pays money for a mutt? But she has been SUCH a good dog for us. Over the years we have paid $$$$ more for her, including the cost of surgical pins in one of her legs. And as always, she is worth every penny!

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  41. There is only one problem with dogs, they don't live long enough. I too, have a 15 year old lab/boxer mix. It breaks your heart and you swear you will never do it again. But it may be far more difficult to live without the tap tap of little paws or those loving brown eyes. I can't imagine life without a dog.

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  42. How do people feel about pet insurance for older pets?

    We've had cats for years and not had them insured. We've lost two in the last 18 months - one had inoperable cancer, the other a very sudden thrombosis - so we've not had any stretched out, expensive illnesses with them.

    However, when we adopted a nine year old springer spaniel in March this year, we decided to get insurance for her. It's very expensive but I've heard that treating dogs at the vets is a lot more expensive than treating cats and because she was a rescue dog, we don't know if she's prone to anything in particular.

    We, thankfully, haven't had to use it yet - she's in good healthy - but I feel like I have to keep paying it just in case something crops up.

    Anyone got any thoughts on this?

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  43. I, also, can relate. I had a Pomeranian while growing up. She was 16 before she died. She was almost totally deaf and vision was bad also. It was hard on me to loose her, but I have since had numerous pets and given them all a good life here on the farm.

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  44. Alice and Hettie are so cute!!
    Our one cat is 14 and in declining health. She still acts like a kitten, jumping around and playing with her 13 year old sister, but she is on meds and we are not sure how much longer our "iron kitty" will last. We also have a 7 yr old jack russell.It is difficult watching them slow down and age, but the joy they bring is worth it. We have decided that once they have all passed on we will take a break for at least six months before we get any new pets.

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  45. Our nine year old golden retriever just started throwing up her food with the purchase of the last dog food (same thing she's eaten for years) .. I'm trying to figure out if it's the food batch, an illness, or what? In the mean time I'm making her brown rice with eggs to eat until she goes to the vet.

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  46. I lost an old dog earlier this year and it was heart breaking. She is the latest of seven dogs that I have had and lost over the last 40 years. It never gets any easier I find. I always try to remember this beautiful quote:
    'for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?' Sir Walter Scott

    I think apart from being more vigilant as to their health and abilities, then all that is required is to love them and keep them warm and well fed. That is the wonder of animals - they ask for so little but give so much! I hope your Alice stays as well as possible for as long as possible.

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  47. As I type this, our oldest cat, Miss Kitty, is in the spare bedroom, and I am unsure if she'll make it through the night. She has been missing the last couple weeks, I found her this afternoon on top of the hay stack (where I check regularly). She is very thin and can't stand up. She isn't happy in the house, which is why she's in a quiet room. Our young pup and the other dog and kitten would harass her too bad. I am going to have a void when she leaves us. She had a long happy life and purrs whenever I go in to pet her, so she knows we love her. I thought about taking her in to the vet to be put to sleep so she didn't suffer, but since she is so scared of car rides, I don't want to do that to her. I feel sad, but it is a natural part of life and having a pet become a family member!

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  48. Oh, I can so relate to this post! Our cat Calvin is 14 and very sick with kidney disease. Life has changed around here because of it. I didn't get to go to youth camp with our church's youth group this year because I didn't feel good about leaving him for a week, seeing as he sometimes pees on things. (I didn't want his "aunties" who care for him in our absence to have to clean up that sort of mess.) We have a heating pad inside the cats' big woolly pillow in the living room that comes on at 8pm each night. I'm looking for a little sweater to put on him at Mail Time when the cats look forward to going outside with me each day.

    It's hard watching them him get smaller, move less, lose the will to play. It's hard watching our other cat get frustrated because his brother and playmate no longer will play chase or fight with him.

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  49. You just take care of them as best you can and give them special treats in their last days.

    I know when our family German Shepard passed my Mother spent a lot of time volunteering at the Animal Rescue Center. After about a year of working there, she fell in love with a special Schnauzer at the center and adopted him as her own.

    I think that was a great healing process for her and taking on the new pet came naturally after a time.

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