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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

**NEW** Jack & Judy's Adventures in Aging!

8/12/09 This a.m. we skipped our walks since 'Mom' got caught up in a personal project. Sometimes I reserve that right!!
Today was grooming day (NOT for beauty but for maintenance)--and what a day it was! Several years ago I 'discovered' Carla after both dogs had become pretty unmanageable to groom for whatever reason. She's the BEST and yet the whole thing looks like a torture for everyone involved. We learned a while back that he is somewhat better when 'Mom' is there, so I get to participate, too--not only calming but trying to keep the jaws from Carla, the clippers and scissors. Think someone should 'invent' a permanent hairdo for these old guys so they don't have to go through this regularly.
Once at home I taught myself a lesson! Since Black Jack has always been so loving, would never do anything wrong and now appears to be so weak I haven't worried about his bite. Well, I gained a bit more respect for those jaws in spite of their having few teeth left. I was giving him a 'good boy' treat when it just about fell from his mouth. Being a great mom I shoved it back into his mouth but failed to withdraw before he thought my finger was a tasty morsel. No blood drawn but a bit I won't forget that when it comes to food, Herculean strength kicks in no matter what age. Life is just one big learning experience--especially when one does such dumb things!!
Not exactly a restful evening...both cleaned up, Jack walking in his food--TWICE..managed to catch him before much more than his tail went in. Also apparently I'm going to have to begin watching him the whole time he's outside, as he fell again and couldn't get up. Later after being outside plenty long he came in and relieved himself in the kitchen. Needless to say this turned out to be one of those frustrated to the point of tears day (HATE the situation LOVE the animal!)...just a bit extra tired tonight... still grateful for all the blessings 'tucked away' within all of this...

8/11/09 This morning Black Jack was up for his walk. It now takes him almost an hour to walk about 3 long blocks. In his younger days he was a 'force to be reckoned with' as a walker--always out in the lead (and Katie Lou always followed). He would have walked to the end of the earth at top speed just for the fun of it and to be with me. Speaking of Katie--what a silly sight we were with Jack in the lead, Katie bringing up the rear and me in the middle with leashes extended as far as they'd go.. Amazing what we adjust to... We were okay until another dog approached and Black Jack wanted to play while Katie was ready for a good fight! That was probably an even funnier sight to witness.

Rather slow 'dog day' today--no real 'highs' or 'lows', just lots of eating and sleeping. so on these days I want to begin sharing some flash backs to Black Jack's beginnings.

Back in 1991 along with the ill-advised purchase of a boarding/grooming kennel, came the a line of Lhasa Apsos. Ignorant of keeping a line 'pure' I agreed to breed a customer's beloved Benji, a Silky mix, with our eldest breeder, Sassy. The intent was to give Benji's offspring to a dear friend, but that friend wasn't able to take him after all, for which I'm now very grateful! Benji was reported to have lived a very long and active life as his son is doing. Sassy was 10 years old when she gave birth to Black Jack and his sister, so she was a very strong & healthy little gal, too.

Amendment to the day...a bit of in and out of bed last night, but more about that later...

8/10/09 I got Jack all ready for his walk yesterday morning and it was obvious that he just didn't want to go this time. Since I consider his walk a fun thing for him besides being good exercise, I don't push these days. Since he didn't use up that energy, he also only ate (or I should say 'lapped up') a few bites if his breakfast before his 6+ hour nap! Yes, weeks ago I was at my wit's end one evening to the point of crying when before I could go to bed I had to scrub not only the kitchen floor but the wall where he eats because he didn't seem to be able to keep his food in his mouth and was sort of 'chasing' it if that makes any sense--and boy does dried canned dog food stick like glue (he decided to give up the dry food he'd eaten all his life a few months before)! The next morning I had the brilliant idea that if missing or bad teeth (a possibility since putting him under at his age to address a tooth issue would be prohibitive) were no longer allowing him to keep the food in his mouth then why not try blending the food to make it easier on him and also help me maintain my sanity. I continue to find it strange that he can't or won't eat his dry dog food but can still chew on a moderately hard jerky chew. I danced a jig of joy when the blended meals WORKED! So the 'Magic Bullet' now gets lots of extra use--sure glad my daughter and her guy gave it to me as a gift.

Finally, wondering how long his little bladder could hold out, I awoke him at about 4 to begin what I call our "nightly ritual". Today, however the pacing, wanting out then in repeatedly (partly to ensure that I don't have to scrub the floor), deciding whether to drink his water, eat his food or walk or fall in it didn't begin right way. Instead he took another quick nap and then at almost 7 the routine continued which usually lasts solidly into bedtime.

On days like this I first get concerned that he doesn't want to walk, then that he doesn't want to eat and finally that the interruption in his 'normal' behaviors will change his nightly sleeping habit so that I also will be deprived of yet another peaceful night's sleep. So far not to worry, though, since apparently on some days he just wants to take it easy and the meals he misses he has so far more than made up for later in the day--sometimes the sleeping well part, not so much...

Sunday evening it isn't as difficult for me to adapt to his restlessness since it's not at the end of a busy day when I would like to sit uninterrupted with my feet up.

Well, I only thought we were 'home free' until, checking on Jack very shortly after putting him out to do his 'duties' I had to go running to him as he flailed in the gravel, trying to get back up after falling in the backyard--dug himself quite a niche. Of course I could get into how that makes me feel, but he always seems to forgive more easily than I do!!

Beginning to see how this feels "all consuming"...? Finally did get to put my feet up for a few minutes before bedtime.

8/9/09 What a great Sunday morning--got to sleep all the way 'in' until 6:30! Yes, there are SO many blessings that Black Jack is the one who has chosen to stay with me this long!! Even after 18 years and almost 3 months (nearing age 90 in human years) he is usually sleeping through the night (better than I do, I might add).

Somehow after posting my first Aging with a Canine blog entry yesterday I felt a great sense of satisfaction/fulfillment that I had accomplished some good 'work'. Frankly I haven't felt quite that good in a while. Interesting how our animals help guide us through our lives, as Jack so wisely put it a while back... He indicated that he's thrilled when I step into my strength--centered, balanced, confident, and moving forward--and commit to doing what I love as well as doing what is right for me. He likes how my energy and aura changes when I'm in that place. So no doubt that's exactly what I was feeling. Can anyone imagine better support than that?!


"In partnership with an aging dog"
Changing colors--

the white/silver/gold shimmering light of an angel;

a warrior's red/black,

brown, tan and gray when the fearful small self appears,

and finally the purple, blue, green, a bit of orange/rose, and silver of the confident self

--fascinating this being in partnership with a canine.

This poem in part is words from the mouth of my little man/dog, Black Jack, when he was describing me 5 years ago at age 12 1/2. Now somehow they seem fitting for him, too, as we work our way through his 'golden' years together.
I just came from the movie Julie & Julia. Earlier the clerk as I purchased senior dog food to blend for Jack's meals commented that all dogs are considered senior beyond about the age of 7. Now I'm inspired to not only use this blog to share our experiences for the benefit of others who might also be facing some of the same things, but also for my own benefit in expressing some of my own feelings about it. In addition, my Katie Lou got her tribute after she passed over two years ago and so Black Jack gets his before he decides to leave.

Time out while I go fetch Jack from the corner he wandered into--will see if he's ready for a nap yet...

1 comment:

Jeanne said...

So Black Jack and Mollie have another trait in common. I told my new vet that she is a 'proactive nipper'. He had never heard that term before. I was warning him and it just popped out. Dog-lovers don't want to believe me when I warn them not to pet Mollie. I understand their discomfort at not being able to pet a dog. I also understand when they think "I wouldn't keep a dog that bit". I have said it myself until I realized that that was exactly what I was doing. Mollie had been found in the woods tangled in vines by a couple who then put a photo on the vet's bulletin board. We had just lost our beloved Cricket after only 3 years to a run-in with the mail truck. We were still mourning but were ready to fill the hole in our home. When Mollie snapped as I picked her up upon meeting, I really didn't think anything of it because I was a stranger to her. We kept thinking she would stop when she realized she was loved and that we would never hurt her. Now, she has been my companion too long to even consider that action. We have a 'ladies agreement'. I don't try to pick her up without her muzzle unless she wants to go where I want her to go: in the car or onto the grooming table. That's about it. I do miss a cuddly dog though and she has never and will never be one. There are times when she asks for scratches and I gladly oblige. On the other hand, she has always had a tender mouth when taking food from a hand. Animals stretch us in many ways. Jeanne