old dogs rule and old dog rules
On the subject of aging for the dog agility blog event I realized I have rules to share about competing with older dogs….
Old Dog Rules
- Your old dog is going to cost you at least $10,000 before they leave you. Start saving now.
- Once in a while you will get a free ride with a dog that has few health issues and leaves you too soon, that will make up for the dog that costs you twice $10,000.
- If your old dog is a pain in the butt he is going to live a really long time.
- Your heart dogs are never, ever, ever, going to live long enough. Never.
- I find nothing more enjoyable than running my older well trained dogs in agility. I know them and they know me and we can just hit cruise control together.
- It is more important to keep your old dog fit than it is to keep them trained. Daily aerobic exercise is a necessity not a once a week treat. The catch is that agility can help keep them fit, train your older dog at home if they are still having fun and they are in shape for the job.
- Every time you train your youngster you should feel a twinge of guilt if you don’t do something fun with your old ones as well. A few minutes of tugging and some trick training go a long ways in making your old dog still feel special.
- It is never fair to have a titling goal with an older dog. Once they hit an “age” throw out the goal for another MACh or a Silver whatchamacallit and compete only for the joy of it. Titling legs should be a pleasant surprise not a week in-week out mission.
- Only compete with your old dog if she still gets excited on the way to the ring.
- Weave poles, tight turns and extreme deceleration skills can fade with old age as your dog learns to be sensible and protect her body, or does not have the flexibility she once had. Adjust your handling and know those days are coming instead of being frustrated when your older dog fails a challenge.
- Get your old dogs’ eyes checked often and be aware of their vision limitations.
- Retire your old dog from agility when people are still saying, “She is HOW old? She still looks so great!”
- Never say “my (old) dog deserves to have such and such title”, or go to one more National event. Dogs only deserve love, attention, exercise, play and delicious food.
- If you have ever felt like you have to “drag” your old dog around the agility course you are probably right. Know when it is time to hang up the agility leash.
- It may be the hardest thing you will ever do but you must be brave enough to help your old dog leave your side with dignity when the time comes and to keep them from another moment of pain or misery.
- Don’t be tempted by the latest technological, surgical, or chemical advances in keeping your dog here on earth a moment longer than they should be. It is never ok to make your best friend uncomfortable in order to spend a few more days or weeks with them.
- Sing your old friend a song and give them a kiss every day.
- Old dogs will rule your life, they will give you countless sleepless nights, and bring you tears too many to count. They will torture you at times with ailments small and large.
- When you think you can’t go on, refer to rule #20.
- Enjoy every moment you get to spend with your old dog and remember all they have done for your life, your career and your sanity.
Read many other blogs on aging here…
My oldest dog Panic is in the photos, he was about 3 in these shots and is almost 13 now. He retired at 7 years of age after epilepsy ended his career. He loved agility more than anything else he ever played at; so much so that the agility is what brought his arousal state so high it triggered his seizures. He still loves to do tunnels and and the occasional set of weaves, and even after 4 years without a seizure, and one year off all medications, I am still very careful not to get him too excited when we play at his favorite pastime for a few minutes. I treasure every memory of running him full out as fast as he could go, especially in the center ring at Scottsdale in the Steeplechase Finals where he took a second and a third. NJG