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
El sentido del olfato, muy desarrollado en estos animales, los lleva a terminar cometiendo alguna travesura. La más común es robar prendas de la ropa, fundamentalmente cercanas a los pies, como calcetines y zapatos. ¡Cuidado con las babas!
precios guarderia para perros
De nada sirve que una persona de la familia esté comprometida con la educación de su perro y los demás no. Si tú te esfuerzas en poner ciertas normas en casa pero el resto de tu familia hace todo lo contrario, tus esfuerzos serán perdidos.
#8, #16, #20! Love this post so much.
Old dogs rule, period. They rule everything in our daily life, and every moment is a treasure. Missing Mick, the amazing Aussie every moment, gone 6 weeks now.
Mick was a treasure as is his memory!
Wonderful post and needed for people who just don’t know when to let go. I have always loved to make up silly songs for my dogs.
Agree with all of your points! I have a soft spot for old dogs. It’s nice to read a loving post about them and how special they will always remain
Getting to compete with a large dog at ten years is still an incredible accomplishment! I hope you can figure out though what is bothering her. All the best to you both.
In my opinion, as a person who has two “senior” dogs who are retired from agility, this is excellent, excellent advice! Thank you for posting it.
My oldest dog is a small rescue terrier. who is almost 15. I had to retire her from formal competition because she could no longer see well enough in even the best lit arenas But she could still see well enough outside. So I continued to work her a bit, and then decided the Video Taped Run Program that NADAC does, would be perfect for her. Now, due to her age, she jumps at 4 ” and I won’t let her go on to a dog walk or teeter, but she still runs the A frame like a pro. Normally, I wouldn’t have kept running her, except a little bit when the other dogs are working, but being out there running with me is one of her favorite things in the world. She has a look fo utter joy and content when she finishes her 10-11 obstacle Intro level runs. 2 or 3 of those are all I will let her do, but at 15, she is one happy girl.
And ask your club to offer a Bar None class at trials, with jump bars on the ground, so your old dogs that are with you when you are trialing with your younger dogs can still play the game they love with you at a venue they love. A couple of our local clubs are offering it at their USDAA trials in jumpers and the older dogs are loving it. I am now running Epic, my 11 year old BC, strictly in that class. AKC will allow a similar class if clubs will contact them.
I ran our last regionals competition with my 9 year old Labrador this past weekend. It was bittersweet in that I have now decided to retire her from regular competition. We will still play in the back yard and I will probably run her FEO 6 or 10 inches at trials if she feels like it. She is my first agility dog and it has been quite a journey. We went to Nationals for the first time at 8 years. It seems like just when you get into a really good groove, it is over. This has been on the horizon for a while but when you make the decision, it is tough. I know it is for the best. Why can’t they live forever.
Forever is the shortest time I would want to keep my dogs as well! Thank you for sharing your story.
I lost my beloved 3 girls over the past few month (Typhoon BC at 15 and 1/2, Tsunami GSD two days before her 14th Birthday and Fantom GSD 1 month before her 15th Birhtday) and yes each one of them cost me about 10000 or more in their last year or so, but I didn’t care….for their last year we pretty much focused on what they could do, which was swimming or slow short walks….for the first time in a long time ( I am thinking 30 years) I now only have one dog…for the first time in a long time I do not have a GSD….I love my dirty little white boy to pieces, but boy do I miss those girls and so does he…..thank you for sharing….
Thanks for sharing stories about your girls Sonja! How sad to lose all three so close together.
Thanks for sharing your stories Nancy. I can vouch for that 10000 spent and times that by the fact that my baby bc had a congenital spine disease and my old pia bc hangs on but is my first fast bc and taught me so much that she does get balls thrown and daily walks and money spent for all that ails her. We learn so much from what we go through with these guys.
What beautiful thoughts about the older agility dog. I love running with my girlie, Delilah! She is fast and sassy still and loves to run, run, run. But, I see her slowing down now that she is 11-1/2 and will willingly retire her so that she can have a happy life for as long as possible. She definitely is my once in a lifetime pup!!
This was well worth reading again, sitting here with my old dog coughing by my side, but looking happier after going for a walk.
Lovely, Lovely post 🙂 Having 3 seniors myself at the moment and feeling blessed they are still with me. Spending more time just enjoying them and what they are still able to enjoy (long hikes and swims)….
Lovely post Nancy.
I pay for my dogs health insurance hoping that I’ll lose money in the deal. I came out ahead financially on Corgi Cali who I lost at 9 years old and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
This may be too difficult of a question so feel free to pass, but if you had Scud’s situation again, would you have made different choices? He was always happy regardless.
I got lucky with Scud while he was being treated for lymphoma. He had an iron stomach for most of his treatments, and spent only occasional days in what I would call discomfort until we got closer to the end. He had a variety of ailments that hit him hard while he was on chemo because of the depressed immune system, like pneumonia, and I knew those were times of discomfort for him, but there was an end in sight; like “if he tolerates this treatment, in a week he will feel fine”
The day I let him go we had used up chemo options. He had bacon and eggs for breakfast. That made me happy. He gave me 4 extra years, not just a few months, mostly because I got lucky that he could tolerate chemo. And the lymphoma treatments for the most part were not expensive. I think I would try them again with another dog, and see how they were tolerated and then make my decisions based on the dogs response.
I did have a bottom line for both Scud and Riot, I decided I would never do dialysis, not even one treatment. It was not a realistic or sustainable treatment plan because of the costs involved. With Riot my other bottom line was that she would never spend a night away from me at a hospital. I treated her kidney failure at home, if I could not have done that I would stopped treatment, not for me but for her. She would have died in a matter of days left with in a cage at a hospital. Scud DID have to spend a few nights at UC Davis once, I was sorry for that but truly he was so outgoing I am not certain he noticed I was gone.
I HOPE I keep making better and better decisions about my old dogs, and if I can’t see the light I hope my friends save me and help me cut the strings. NJG
I love this Nancy. I so hate to see old dogs, who obviously are no longer having fun, being drug around an agility course because their owner wants one more title. We see it way too often. Do you remember my BC, Quick? Nicole used to call her my “e ticket ride”. She loved agility more than anything, but I had to retire her at age 8 because for some reason she just couldn’t do weavepoles any longer. She’s now 2 weeks away from her 14th birthday, and she’s lived up to Rule 2, times 2 at least. But she’s worth every penny of it, and when she goes, it’s going to break my heart!
I am so glad to hear that Quick is still with you, she was a wonderful agility dog and it is so nice to hear that she has been your valued companion for so long as well. Thanks for writing Sue!
LOVED your post Nancy!!
Loved the song part !! You made me think a lot about my almost 12 years old english cocker… she is my first (not) my last but MY EVERYTHING!!
Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!! 🙂
Great post! My Shadow was a hyperactive pain in my butt for much of his life and is now 17 yrs 8 months old, so yes I can say that rule #3 is quite true. He’s making up for being healthy all his life and not costing much money by now costing me a fortune trying to keep him healthy, and eating. I’m now struggling with rules # 15, 16, and 18. Rule 20 is so wise! I look at my little, old, elderly man and still see my baby boy. He deserves the best I can give him and will get it until it’s time for him to go to the Rainbow Bridge.
17 years old. That is great! I do have a theory that the more of a PIA they are in the end, the easier it is to recover from the loss when they go. Maybe natures way of helping us survive:)
[…] from the link below. This is an agility instructor's rules, but rule #1 will apply to everyone. Power Paws Agility | old dogs rule and old dog rules I agree with much that has been said above. People are not prepared for the 24/7 job raising a […]
Your words are very wise. We lost our Lab Ada very suddenly this June when she was ten. Her last agility run was our MACH run, first, last, and only !! She was robust, healthy, and full of her special brand of sensible enthusiasm. Three weeks after, she started limping due to metatastic carcinmoa in her left clavicle. We were ready to figure out how to pay for extensive treatment and surgery-but every option involved great pain and very little healing for our beautiful girl. She died a short month after getting her MACH. She did not live long enough, we are devastated, but every second of her life brought joy. Her titles are great memories of being together, the tests and trials just a means to that end.
Heartbreaking story Jane, thank you for sharing and as we always seem to have to say way too often to our dog friends, sorry for the loss of your special girl. NJG
Great words of wisdom. I can relate to each one. The 10,000 is very true. My labbie “Stoney” was well over 8,000 with chemo and all that came with it, luckily I have insurance for all my furball companions, otherwise I couldn’t afford it. Everyone should be responsible when they get that little puppy and know that they are going to spend way more than just a little dog kibble in their lifetime. So few commit to this, dogs are not disposible commodities to get rid of if the expenses get too high, and yet I see and hear about it all the time, so sad……
I always laugh when I hear someone complain about the cost to purchase a puppy. In days,weeks, or short years you may need ten times the cost of the dog to keep them alive or fix them so you can have a nice career with them:) NJG
Great, great post Nancy.
I would add that there are now many options for retirement sports we can do with our old dogs. Just because a dog is too old for agility doesn’t mean they won’t love something like Nosework, tracking, Rally, barn-hunting or whatever. Sometimes a dog might not be able to do agility, but they are still used to working with us every day and a lot of them still have the drive to do more than a walk in the park.
I agree Kathy, our dogs learn to Love Agility because we taught them to love it. I think it’s important to teach them multiple sports from the very beginning, especially ones that are easy on their bodies, so when they’re ready to retire from the more strenuous ones they will still have a sport or two that they love and can still play happily with us, keeping their minds and bodies in shape.
I’m so fortunate that Luke is both my heart dog AND a pain in the butt. He’ll choose exactly the right time, but not before he drags me to many more start lines. Lovely post, Nancy, thanks.
I make up silly songs and nicknames for my 5 shelties.
Lexie cost me more than 10K, 2 knee surgeries and rehab, 1 emergency C-Section, 1 lung cancer surgery and I would do it all over again just to have my heart and soul beside me. We ran together until 6 weeks before I lost her
It makes it all worth it then! NJG
Just beautiful, Nancy. I love singing silly songs to all of my dogs, especially to Slyder!
This truly brought tears to my eyes. With every one of the rules I read it brought to mind one of my old dogs past and present (especially the one about your heart leaving to soon).
Thank you Nancy for these words. You are truly wise.
Awww, thanks Kathie. Miss our special old girls so much.
What a beautiful post. I have a rescue Boxer, not sure how old she is, probably 9 or 10. She loves to train and play and just be with us. The look of pure joy on her face when she gets to do “stuff” is just priceless. All my dogs have their own song that I sing to them daily, but they always look more embarrassed than pleased!
#13 and #20…Cinder has been the BEST DOG EVER (but don’t tell the others that!) and every time she pulls the “I must go outside NOW even tho you just settled into bed” I think of how this 14 year old dog gave me everything she had…and more. Old dogs rule!
Hint. The others know. And it doesn’t matter. They all love us so much I know they understand. I have been so lucky in having both needy and un-needy dogs at the same time. The needy ones have more time spent next to me, the un-needy ones spent more time playing in the yard with their friends, or in their favorite hideout.
Why are dogs just so amazing? NJG
I loved it. Caper is 10 and his shoulder surgery cost me $13,000 and it was worth every penny to see him enjoy life. He swims, goes on hikes and love to retrieve his ball or bumper He still loves agility, and we run every run as if it is our last. He has slowed down, is not as tight, but he can never make a mistake in my eyes, everything he does is perfect. However long we have together it will never be long enough, but I love him to much to ever let him suffer when the time comes.
it’s just money:) thanks for sharing. NJG
Thank you. I always regreted that I was never able to have that last run with Sadie. Due to injury she had to play agility in the yard, she visited trials. But never competed again. After reading this I have a smile knowing that I did have that run in the yard with the happiest girl the night before she passed at 15.
I am absolutely sure she cared not the least that agility was at home with you instead of at some dumb trial:) An agility run at 15 is incredible, you must have taken great care of her!
Absolutely, I love the rules, especially #13, the titles are for us, our dogs will try as long as they are able to do what we ask. I respect those who retire their dogs with dignity and enjoy long healthy lives living with their companions.
Numbers 4, 15, and 20 are the best. I am a single mom (kids are 21 and 16 now, yeah!) and my dogs saved my sanity multiple times. Not sure I am sane, but the imitation I do is entirely caused by their ability to bring me back to what is really important — and offer a furry body for tears and comfort and when needed.
I was not lucky enough to have kids, I had to make up for that with all the dogs! I can’t imagine the tears I missed not being a parent. Parents are brave and need dogs to care for them.
Now these are the kind of rules worth following! Old dogs are sweet, sometimes exasperating, but only in the best and most bittersweet way. My dogs all have their own song(s) as well.
Hope no one ever makes us sing those songs in public:) My dogs don’t know I can’t carry a tune!
Beautiful post! I was blessed to be able to run with my old guy until a month before he died. He was slower than molasses but oh so happy to be out there playing the game he loved (even if the jumps were more like speed bumps) – I think his tail was wagging faster than his paws were moving. So many wonderful memories. Thank you for putting this into words,
Nothing better than a career that extends throughout a great long life! I hope my own does the same. My dogs and I don’t want to sit on the bench watching too long:)
Yeah Celeste, that is a REALLY important one. All my dogs have a song:)
[…] Read the full article […]
Wonderful post! #17 is my favorite, but all of it is lovely, and wise.