I would like you to meet my new, old man, Saul.
This beautiful silver haired, senior dog of 10 years has landed in Washington and into my home. This boy is originally from a shelter in California, after being picked up from the streets as a stray. Someone opened their door and let him walk. Ears cropped, still packing the jewels around, he was clearly someone’s, but nobody came to claim him. My guess, he was used as a stud and that was his only existence. Due to his age he may have had a lack luster performance with the ladies or maybe it was just simply his age. There are many folks out there not enthralled with old dogs for whatever reason. I don’t get it. When I see a senior dog my brain only registers GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!
How did Saul make it to my place in Washington, from the sunny state of Cali you ask? Just sit right there and let me tell you a story. I have been doing a lot of strength work with my boxer Bam who is in the early stages of Degenerative Myelopathy. In addition to strength, I have been learning coordination, stability and flexibility exercises for him to do to slow the progression of his disease. I have been enrolling in every certification program to learn more. I just completed the “Do More With Your Dog” certification and quickly enrolled in the University Of Tennessee’s “Certified Canine Fitness Trainer” program. All the while I am working towards my canine massage therapy license with my hydrotherapy school on the calendar for June. I am doing all of this because my boy needs it. The more I know the better end of life I can give him and to my surprise, I LOVE DOING THIS REHAB WORK! How does this relate to Saul? Let me go further.
The exercises I run Bam through are not only good for him, but they are good for any dog, especially seniors. Bam’s hind end will go out first as his disease progresses, but this is also true for senior dogs without the disease. The hind end is what needs the most work right up there with the core. My brain got spinning as I have now been inspired to create a class for senior dogs to work on things that all seniors, across the species need such as, coordination, stability, flexibility and strength (CSFS). The better we all are at these four components the better lives we can lead. This is no different for our dogs! Use it or lose it, right? The more we work on CSFS the less likelihood we will succumb to injury and the more likely we will be mobile without pain. This is not new information, I know. Blah, blah, blah. Yet we let our senior dog snooze the day away when in fact they should be moving AND engaging their brain. They may not be able to go for the long walks like the ones you used to take together, but they CAN do things.
So where is Saul in all of this? I am getting there. . . Bam is creeping into his senior years, but he is a special case with his DM. If I am going to create a class for senior dogs, I want a senior dog that most people have and I also wanted a dog well into their senior years. Where is my phone? I messaged Holly, the president of MustLuvBoxers Rescue and said, “I need a senior dog. The dog MUST be 10 or older”. There had to be a million seniors out there. Let’s just say they aren’t flying out of the shelters and into homes, but rather black trash bags. In fact, on Saul’s paperwork, it said his adoption fee was $10. A measly $10. It isn’t that people can’t afford him, they just didn’t want him. Well, this girl did! His name at the shelter was Duckie. Holly magically pulled this boy and marked him as SAFE. He was due to get neutered before transport and went off to the vet to get the jewels removed. He seemed to have what was an upper respiratory infection so that had to be treated before he could be neutered. He also had a double ear infection. He stayed at the vet for a few days and was released to be transported. His jewels came with him, as did a whole host of meds and ear rinses. Wonderful humans volunteered their time and brought him literally to my doorstep.
Saul arrived and I love him. I get a different feeling when I know they are staying. I have a level of love for every dog that I encounter, but a dog that is staying with me until their last breath, I fall head over heels in love with them. I swallow the Kool Aid and put on the Nikes. I fall for them hook, line and sinker! You are mine! My baby! Saul is no different. This boy will be one of my kids and the face of my senior fitness program. At 10 years old, he will be the senior representative to show others the remarkable things senior dogs CAN do! He will be the dog used in my classes to demonstrate all the activities others will perform to stay fit and agile.
Before Saul becomes a mega superstar, there are a few things still needing to be done. The jewels need to GO! Oh my goodness, he can think of nothing else except to hump, hump, hump. If he gets excited at all, he will hump my leg in a second. I tested him with Annika, my sweet almost 1-year old, spay female and he thinks she was awesome and totally “humpable”. Hump. Hump. Hump. She is agile and quick so she can avoid his advances. Her favorite game is “keep away”. She will grab a toy and run with it and he will run after her. Here is a great example of how perception is everything. She is running because she thinks he is chasing her to get the toy. He is running after her because he wants to hump her and could care less about the toy. Both are running and both are happy, but two games are happening here, unbeknownst to each other.
Hopefully, with time and two less jewels, Saul will learn how to play instead of thinking he is to be the machine he mostly likely was used for all his life up to this point. Hopefully, he will also mark less and less, but the belly wraps are on order just in case his marking is too habitual to cure. It makes no difference to me. The love and joy I get from having Saul far outweigh the price of reusable belly wraps.
Stay tuned here for more about Saul as I get to know him better myself. I predict he will be breaking hearts all over because he is as sweet as they come. He is currently enjoying walking in the woods and having the freedom to run and run in the large play yard, sleep on a very plush bed with delicious food served warm each morning and night. He may be 10, but he has so much life yet to live.
Stop reading here if you don’t want to know what is also on my mind…….
………don’t hesitate to check in on an elderly neighbor. Take them for a walk or a drive. They have stories that will knock your socks off. The have experiences you have never had. They have knowledge about things you may be interested in learning. I guarantee your life will be forever changed from having known them. They may not be the teenagers they once were like Saul, but boy oh boy, are they ever great company and they too, have some living to do if only they had a little help from a friend like you. This may come back around later in your life. . . .just sayin’. . . .