As our animal companion begins showing their life experience, they can require a little extra time and thought; coming full circle from when the both of you were new to each other. The Young have boundless energy, the Experienced knows when to use it and how to conserve; a sleepy eye determines what requires attention and what is not going to interrupt their nap.
We can honor them by making a few concessions so their daily life is a little easier.
A great way to start the day for an experienced companion is a massage. It is only three minutes out of your morning routine, five if you count cooing in his ear. A massage is best done before he starts moving around, but can be done shortly thereafter. I like to do the simplest form by using an open palm and applying pressure with the heel of my hand across the big muscle groups staring from head to toe and then back again without taking my hand off the animal. I let my fingers rest softly amongst that beautiful coat. How much pressure can be determined by experimenting. One morning do a soft massage, next try alittle more pressure. Remember, this is not a bread kneading contest. Transfer the love and tenderness you hold for this animal into your hands, caress him. His response will tell you what he likes. This ‘hands on’ morning routine is a favorite at my house and has an added advantage. My hands can find tender spots, lumps, bumps and other things that maybe shouldn’t be there.
Experienced bodies are less supple and energy is not what it used to be, just like us. Some people give up that walk with their dog because he has trouble moving, gets tired or cannot keep up with you or the others you are walking. Then honor him by taking a slow, short walk. Just the two of you. In my experience, they want the process, the adventure, not the speed or miles. Let him see who’s been out today, let him have time to mark a few places to claim as his own. Honor him. Play with him, if even for two or three throws of the ball. Maybe he is not the fly ball champ anymore, but he will have just as much fun chasing a grounder. I have to have the younger kids in my household wait inside while I play with my grandma, Ammulett, because she is easily knocked around by her daughters.
Temperature extremes don’t need to be as ‘extreme’ as when he was younger to be less tolerable so heat and cold will bother him more. Keep some Pedialyte® in the fridge and some Pedialyte© ice cubes in the freezer for hot weather, low sodium broth to add to meals during cold weather. More small meals helps digestion is less likely to cause bloat and helps stimulate the appetite. If your experienced dog is on the pudgy side, use some low cal snacks like grated carrot, green beans or sweet potatoes to their meal to make it special.
Try not to move furniture around even if eyesight seems not to be an issue. Animals get use to routine and ‘forget’ the changes. Throw a few rugs around the tile floors to aid in standing.
And every once in a while just throw him a treat in honor of the blessing he has brought to your life.