I was still in my 30s when I got Dudley; suffice to say I’m no longer in my 30s and he’s no longer the young adolescent dog he was almost 13 years ago. Dogs age pretty much the same way people do; they slow down and tire more easily, their hair grays, they get moles and other lumps, some lose their hearing and/or vision, they might have accidents in the house, and some dogs may develop more serious concerns such as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). Dudley’s terror of thunderstorms came out of the blue a couple of years ago, but it is common for dogs to become afraid of things as they get older.
Dudley was about a year old in these pictures. You can see how black the fur on his face was. He was a very active dog then, he wanted me to toss that toy giraffe to him for hours and he nipped me in the butt a few times when I didn’t toss it as quickly as he wanted. He didn’t really bite me, but let me know with his teeth that it was time to toss the giraffe. I learned that when I wanted to stop, I had to put the giraffe out of sight. We’d walk for an hour or more most every day. He pulled on his leash much harder back then when he saw a squirrel. Now he might glance at the squirrel, but he doesn’t show much interest in chasing it. Cats just make him walk faster and look over his shoulder to make sure it’s not following. If the cat is watching him, he might give a fretful chuff or two.
That’s not to say Dudley is an “old” dog just because he has a little snow on the roof and gnarly moles. Dudley is still enthusiastic about food and loves to go for a walk. He still engages with people and barks if he happens to see other dogs on the sidewalk in front of the house. His hearing is failing, but the past few weeks he’s come to the window when I pull into the driveway, so he hears the car when he’s awake. His vision is still good. Thankfully, he hasn’t had any accidents in the house and he shows no signs of CDS. Most dogs his size have an average life span of 11-12 years and Dudley will be 14 in October. I’m very grateful to have an above average dog in this respect. While it is easy to chalk up to old age the changes in your dog; the same signs of old age can indicate more serious health concerns for your dog and you should take your senior dog to the vet twice a year for a check-up. We want your dog to be “above average” in life expectancy, too.
Properly trained, a man (or woman) can be dog’s best friend. ~Corey Ford