Getting older can be challenging for everybody. But when it comes to dogs, the aging process may be harder for the owner than for the dog itself. Beyond the unconditional love they give us, there are many benefits to having a dog. So it’s really hard to see their health decline as they get older. I’ve been fortunate enough to have dogs who live to relatively old ages based on their breed. Our mini dachshund, Ruger, lived to be almost 14. Right now, we have a senior pit bull, Tyson, who’s also approaching the ripe old age of 14. For a large breed dog, reaching the age of 14 is quite an accomplishment. This is a dog who’s been through some interesting things in his lifetime. Tyson’s body is slowing down, but we still get many glimpses of his youthful behavior.
Tyson has had some adventures during his almost 14 years with us. He was lost for almost 5 days after digging under our fence. We searched for hours every day, hung posters, called neighbors, and visited local businesses to see if anyone had seen him. On day 5, he was found wandering a 4-lane highway. It was amazing that he survived. When we got him home, he was covered in ticks and has lost quite a bit of weight. Fortunately, he returned to his lively and chunky self after some care and lots of healthy food. That was over 6 years ago. He hasn’t been through anything like that again. But, he does have a past of getting into trouble when it comes to food. He’s stolen fresh-baked cornbread off the counter and knocked the remnants of a birthday cake into the floor to devour it. Thankfully, it wasn’t chocolate.
What happens when dogs get older
Living with an older dog can be challenging. It’s hard to know when they are in pain and when you need to intervene. Dogs can suffer from many of the same age-related health issues as humans. Tyson now has incontinence problems which means he wears a diaper nearly all the time, except when he goes outside. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to mind the diaper and it does look quite cute. We even have them in various colors so he always looks fashionable. Other than a few mild issues, Tyson seems mostly healthy and happy. He takes a couple of supplements to help with joint health and restlessness. We have definitely noticed some changes over the past year. He still eats everything in sight though and he even still plays with his favorite toys.
There is plenty of joy that comes from living with an older dog. It’s interesting to see how their personality changes as they age. With Tyson, he’s always been mild-mannered and easy-going. Lately, though, he can get a little grumpy with our other dogs when he wants to be left alone. I’ll admit, everyday life with him can be a bit frustrating at times. But I know that eventually, he won’t be with us any longer. He’s been a part of our family for almost 14 years. During that time, he’s been around to grow up with my daughter, he’s been through 2 moves, and has been introduced to a few new dog siblings. He has helped me realize that you can learn a lot from senior dogs. They show us the importance of living each day to the fullest.