To Love An Older Dog

Morgan will soon be turning 12. We rescued him when he was about one year old. Now his face is turning that whiter, sugary look. I know it well. My first Golden, Nicholas, lived to be nearly 15. His face turned almost completely white.

I’ve often said that there’s nothing more comfortable than an old dog. I still believe it’s true. An older dog is like stepping into your favorite slippers. There’s a deeper kind of love with an older dog. It’s different than when you get a puppy. A puppy is adorable and energetic. The love is lighter. It’s more fun. Every day is a new surprise. With a puppy they roll and jump. They run and slide. With a young dog the trick is to keep him/her from charging ahead too fast.

It’s gentler with a senior dog. You try to coax them along; making sure he or she keeps going. Morgan has always been an active dog. We still make sure to exercise him twice a day. Our vet says, “Keep him moving. Keep the muscles active.” The commercial on TV says, “A body in motion, stays in motion.” One thing I’ve learned about an older dog is that they refuse to do anything they don’t like to do. Kind of like older folks. So I know he likes the walks along the golf course. And out at the beach in the park above the ocean cliff. I treasure these walks as much as I enjoyed the hikes up to the surrounding peaks when we all were younger.

Over the years, patterns have developed. You know each other well. You know what each other likes and needs. Morgan has always enjoyed barking at other dogs.  He would bark at every dog we met. At first we were upset by this. Then we noticed how much he and his BFF, Angel Cody, loved to bark at each other. Their tails up wagging with happiness. We’ve learned to accept this about Morgan.

It goes both ways. Morgan has learned to accept that it takes us forever to get out of the house. When we take Morgan out with us in the car, he refuses to get in until we start the engine. Why? Because he knows that we forget things and go back inside two or three times before we really drive away. He knows us as well as we know him.

Having an older dog is precious time. Share with us a special moment that you’ve had loving an older dog.

13 replies
  1. Marj Johnson
    Marj Johnson says:

    The best thing of my first golden even as she got older and her face grayed too was that she never lost her puppy quality. I knew that she would struggle at times with things and start to limp but than she’d sneak under the table and steal everyone’s napkins off their lap at the dinner table. Or she loved to steal tissues out of the tissue box. I always felt like that was her way to entertain me. Than I would have to chase her around the house and she’d trade the tissue for a treat. Golden’s are such stoic canines. They don’t always let you when they are in pain or tired. But I do treasure every chapter of their life. I wouldn’t miss any part. I adore the puppy stage with all the bonding and the adolescent stage where they are thirsty for knowledge and than the adult stage when they become your best friend and your everything. And they know all your ways and you know theirs. And you just exit together going through life. I know you’ve done this many times too. The beginning, the middle and the end. I’ve read once that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart and every time I get a new dog they gift me a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all components of my heart will be dog and I will become as generous and loving as they are and I truly believe that.

    Reply
    • Dan Perdios
      Dan Perdios says:

      Marj, Thanks for sharing your story. You get it. All three stages. I too wouldn’t miss any part. Your first Golden sounds like a sweet heart. And of course Jake is a doll. I love following his adventures.

      Reply
  2. Susan mahoney
    Susan mahoney says:

    I went through the puppy stage when I was a lot younger. I had 2 litters over 15 years…Irish setters were marvelous . When I moved to the burbs of NY I decided to adopt older dogs and it was one of my best decisions. In the past 20 years I’ve owned a mixed land 2 Goldens. They were the joy of our lives. Keira went over Rainbow Bridge several weeks ago at 12 years and the house is too quiet. We will be adopting again this summer, an older girl, to complete our home. Loved your blog, Dan, and I agree heartily…

    Reply
    • Dan Perdios
      Dan Perdios says:

      Hello Susan. Thanks for sharing. I was wondering how you were doing. Adopting a senior dog is such an important thing to do. I admire you for doing this. Thank you. I don’t think I could do it. Besides I have other issues that need to be addressed with a dog. I understand about the house being too quiet The five months between Willy and Morgan were agonizing. No dog to feed. No dog to walk. No dog to wake up to. Can’t wait to see your new girl…..

      Reply
  3. Kathy Barnes
    Kathy Barnes says:

    Dan, this is so beautiful and so very true. Angel Dusty never acted like an older dog, I guess because he didn’t live long enough to act like an older dog. He was truly the Best boy and the smartest boy. I always talked to him and he knew what I was saying. I’ll always love him best.

    Reply
    • Dan Perdios
      Dan Perdios says:

      Thanks for sharing Kathy. Dusty was a sweet heart and I know he will always be your boy. They become so keyed in to us. It’s as though they can read our minds and finish our sentences. Once again, thanks for all your support and love during this long process.

      Reply
  4. Em Rae
    Em Rae says:

    We only do senior and/or special needs rescues. Sometimes we have a very short time to share, others may be years and years. As I write this, our nearly 13 year old golden girl has recently been dx’ed with an intranasal cancer which has invaded her brain. This Labor Day, we will, toes crossed, celebrate 7 years together. Daisy struggles with extreme thunder phobia and cannot be left without a human during rain or worse. (Enter ‘Special Needs.). Since we take our dogs to work with us, a rescue group asked us to foster Daisy. We are what is commonly referred to as foster failures. That’s OK with us! And as we face this chapter, I wouldn’t have any other way. Every day is a gift. And we are honored Daisy chose us. We love you to the moon and back, Daisy Doodle. Forever!

    Reply
    • Dan Perdios
      Dan Perdios says:

      Thank you for sharing Em Rae. Senior dogs are so special. I admire people who rescue senior dogs. I know what thunder can do. Morgan is fearful of thunder. Fortunately there isn’t a lot in Coastal California. Daisy Doodle sounds like a sweet heart. I wish you the best of luck and hope that Labor Day you get to celebrate your anniversary together.

      Dan Perdios

      Reply
  5. Lynn Peters
    Lynn Peters says:

    We adopted a Golden named Sadie when she was about 5 years old. The people who had her said she had been dumped on the side of the road and they couldn’t keep her. She had been living outside for over a year. We brought her home and she settled right in as if she had been there all of her life. She never destroyed anything or had any accidents. We had her until she was 14 years old!

    Reply

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