I haven’t posted about my sweet boy lately and last Thursday marked our five-year anniversary with Oscar. He is now twelve years old. If you don’t already know, we rescued Oscar when he was seven, which is already considered a senior dog.
We knew the risks of adopting and caring for an older dog, but despite some problems we have no regrets.
While Oscar did develop diabetes, not long after we got him, all has been going pretty well. His diabetes is under control and he continues to be the little light in our lives.
But caring for an older dog has its undeniable struggles. Oscar has always been stubborn. I would expect nothing less from a Schnauzer, but with every passing day his demands become more and more exhausting. It’s become his way or the highway – that’s it.
Sure we spoil him, but he’s a good old dog. We all find it hard to be tough on him when all he really wants is a few extra beans. Yes, I said beans. Oscar’s favorite treats are frozen green beans. We’ve reached a point where he is looking for them 24-7. It began when we didn’t have a fenced in area and I wanted to reward him for not wondering off. Somehow this has developed into a treat for any form of movement either on his part or mine – all day long! I could deny him or scold him for his constant pestering, but they’re just green beans, so nine times out of ten he gets one.
Aches and Pains
Other notable changes that make caring for an older dog challenging are Oscar’s obvious aches and pains. He has no interest in walking and his hind legs appear a bit wobbly. Don’t get me wrong, he will run full speed to a meal, but otherwise he’s in slow motion. I think his lack of exercise makes him irritable, but for every walk I attempt to take him on he reverses direction to head for home.
His bathroom needs have, not surprisingly, changed too. He needs to go out much more frequently. If he barks to go out, someone better move quickly because now when he has to go, it’s almost always urgent. We learned that the hard way.
Hurry Up and Wait
Forgetfulness and slowness come with caring for an older dog too. Often when I let him out he seems to forget what he’s doing out there. It’s up to me to be patient and ensure that he does what he set out to do. This is not always accomplished the first time out and if ever I’m in a rush, his pace is bound to be excruciatingly slow.
I have concluded that some of Oscar’s reluctance to be outside stems from vision and hearing loss. He’s not totally deaf or blind, but it’s clear that these functions are compromised. I often think he feels vulnerable outdoors, thus his mad rush to get back in. And, of course, more beans.
The funniest thing I’ve encountered with Oscar as he ages is his desire to go to bed early. I get it, I like to go to bed early too, but he’s looking for me to accompany him at 7pm. He won’t settle down in his little bed until he sees me lying down in mine. And he wants his bed upstairs. Not a chair or a couch or a cozy piece of rug, just his bed where he can sleep uninterrupted until morning. It’s sweet really, but a bit ridiculous in the throes of summer.
Thankfully, Oscar’s issues with aging are minor and he continues to bring us so much joy despite the extra work involved in caring for an older dog.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain.