Six blessings of my dog's senior status

Baby Mickey, soon after we adopted him.

Our dog is getting old. Depending on the chart used, Mickey — the pit-pointer we rescued at six weeks old — has reached senior status, hovering anywhere around 80 years old to 93 or so.

Mickey’s advanced age is obvious in myriad ways. The bold brown coloring on his face has gone gray, he has trouble on stairs, he sleeps much of the time, he rarely gets excited about even his once most favorite things … including squirrels needing his exuberant escorting out of the yard and french fries — or anything potentially edible — inadvertently dropped within mad-dash reach.

Watching the decline of The Best Dog In The World, as Jim has forever referred to him, is hard on the heart. Yet rather than bemoan the inevitable, I’m doing my best to focus on the blessings of my dear dog’s senior status.

Blessings such as these…

Senior Mickey is nearly deaf

A blessing? Well, yeah. See, Mickey used to bark (and bark and bark) at everything. Every thing! So much so a former neighbor — whom in the 12 years our yards touched on one another’s we never learned his name thus always called him Mr. Mean Man, his wife The Mean Lady — turned us in to Animal Control. Three times! Because Mickey supposedly barked “all day long.” Their (and our) response was “prove it,” that Mickey barked literally all day. Which Mr. Mean Man couldn’t so the harassment eventually eased.

Yet, I admit, Mickey did bark. A lot. At even the slightest sound or stirring (just not all day long!). Mickey rarely barks now. Because he can barely hear things to bark at.

We currently have barking dogs living on both sides of us, dogs that seem intent on getting new-neighbor Mickey going at it. Thank heavens he can’t hear or he would be going at it … all day long. As it stands now, with Mickey not responding to his barking buddies left and right of us, our neighbors simply think we have an amazingly well trained dog whom we’ve taught to refrain from adding to the ruckus.

We’re happy to let them continue thinking that.

Senior Mickey no longer has to prove himself

MIckey’s major mishap.  Click here for the story .

MIckey’s major mishap. Click here for the story.

Used to be that when I’d take Mickey on walks, he absolutely had to prove how big and bad and rough and tough he was to every single dog, cat, deer, squirrel he saw along the way.

Now, unless they’re up in his face (or determined to get to know him better via booty sniff), Mickey doesn’t care to compete. Let the younger, wilder ones take center stage, he seems to think, having nothing compelling to prove.

Which is a true blessing for me considering his previous prideful posing led to one major mishap for us both, and another wild ride resulted in months of PT for me when he once dashed off in pursuit of a deer, pulling me along.

Senior Mickey and I go at the same pace

As mentioned above, Mickey liked to go! Fast, far, furiously. Me, being challenged with MS, not so much.

Now that MIckey’s older and slower, after an initial Woo-hoo! We’re walking! four-step of sorts, he slows to a more manageable pace. Manageable for me. We even similarly struggle a smidgen on those last few yards before reaching our own yard at walk’s end.



Senior Mickey requires fewer walks

I love going on walks with Mickey. Always have, despite the challenges of such with the young, exuberant Best Dog In The World. Yet there were times I wanted — or needed — to do something different during the morning hour typically reserved for walking. Anytime I’d do such things, I’d feel horribly quilty during and after.

No longer a problem as Mickey simply requires fewer walks … because he can no longer handle daily walks. Which, on one hand, thoroughly and completely sucks that he’s that old. On the other hand, I don’t have to feel guilty about incorporating two mornings a week working out at the Y as three other mornings with Mickey suffice.

Senior Mickey gave up guard dog duty

My mailman used to be afraid to come to the door, Mickey’s barking was so effectively ferocious. Same for delivery folks of any sort. (Same for solicitors, too, which was a perk, to be frank.) That was Mickey’s response to people outside my house. Visitors welcomed by us humans into the house were welcomed by Mickey with leaps and licks so forceful Jim or I had to (fairly ineffectively) tug Mickey away by his collar … or blurt out to guests to “just knee him and he’ll stop.” No fun for anyone.

Mickey no longer cares much about guarding the house or greeting guests. Sure, he’ll bark a bit if he sees neighborhood kids approach our porch for their play, but delivery folks go unnoticed (he can’t hear them). Visitors get simply a sniff of approval then Mickey’s on his way … to another room for yet another nap. Nor more tugs, no more “knee him” necessary.

Senior Mickey seems to matter more

We have always and forever adored our Mickey Dog, always considered him — realistically or not, whether our only dog or not at the time — The Best Dog In The World. Yet all the barking and jumping and endless energy and dogged determination that made Mickey Mickey up until just a couple years ago drove us darn nuts many a day … and night.

Nowadays Jim and I are, more often than not, anxious about Mickey’s lack of activity, lack of desire for activity, consider it proof he’s nearing the end. An end we are so far from being ready for.

So we cater to, cuddle on, converse about Mickey more than ever before.

And we continually consider the blessing The Best Dog In The World has been in our lives — from his Maniacal Mickey early days to the far more mellow Senior Mickey ones we’re blessed with now.


The Best Dog In The World