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Pet Column: Senior dogs are the best

Local senior pups living their best lives.

By Elle Williams, CPDT-KA  
Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider 

Senior dogs are just the best! Those frosted faces, those slow sniffy walks, and a sofa that’s no longer a chew toy, these are the golden years.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t age slowly and steadily. They mature in bursts with long periods of age in between. Puppyhood happens in a blink of an eye; six months of potty accidents and hilarious moments worthy of going viral on social media.

Adolescents seem to drag on for a year and a half of hormonal teenagehood. Although, this time can be some of the most rewarding; watching them learn and grow.

Then there’s what feels like a lifetime of adulthood averaging four to eight years. But those senior years can come on suddenly. One day your pup is levitating onto your bed and the next day you’re installing doggy stairs.

This isn’t an article about the cons of having a senior pup, this is a senior celebration! “Blessed are those who earn the love of a senior dog,” Canyon Lake resident Jayne Ashton proclaimed.

Senior dogs may slow down physically but I assure you their minds are still going full speed. ” I love how my senior dog reminds me that just because you get older and maybe a little slower, you still have a lot to offer,” Kellie Welty, dog enthusiast and Canyon Lake resident, said. “Chris, our senior rescue, is deaf but is still the coolest boy.”

Some senior dogs don’t show their age at all. Canyon Lake resident Denise Goering knows this all too well. “My senior has no idea he’s 17 years old,” Goering said.

This is a great time to really engage your senior dog’s senses with fun games, slow sniff walks, and a lot of cuddle time. “There is nothing, nothing, in the world I love more than cuddling with my senior dog KC,” Canyon Lake resident Michelle Robinson said.

If runs or hikes are no longer fun for an older dog, there are hundreds of enriching games, alternative physical exercises, and toys to keep your senior dog thinking. Canyon Lake resident Lindsay Cooper found that swimming is one of her senior’s favorite activities. “I love how she jumps in the pool after every walk, even if it’s 50 degrees outside,” Cooper said.

When it comes to keeping a senior dog’s brain healthy, Scuffle Matt’s and puzzle feeders are great mealtime enrichments that work the brain. Hiding a toy under a pillow and encouraging your dog to find it works its nose and brain. Even petting it with a super fluffy surface and brushing its coat enriches its senses.

Senior dogs have routines and, in a good home environment, are more likely to feel secure and less likely to display frustration. They take joy in those simple moments. Canyon Lake resident Shellee Griffin reflects on her senior dog’s love of simple things, “Lollee-Pop enjoys a very simple life,” Griffin said. “She is almost completely blind and is going deaf but she doesn’t miss a beat. She enjoys the East Bay little dog park almost every day. She has loads of friends there and loves her daily outing.”

Senior dogs are all individuals, so my experience is limited. I asked the Canyon Lake community what they loved most about their senior dogs and, of course, the love poured in. 

“Their joy,” Darlene Swaffer said. “We have now rescued two seniors (both eight when rescued). Total devotion and love.”

“It wasn’t until Mia’s senior years that my love for her was tested, and that is when I realized exactly how strong my love is for her,” local dog trainer Holly Stephen said. “I will be forever grateful for her.”

Coleen Hensley, the owner of a mobile pet grooming business in Canyon Lake, said, “Grace, my adopted senior, has taught me it’s better to have loved and lost than never love at all. She has taught me that staying home and getting plenty of rest for morning doggie walks are way better than staying out late, and that adopted dogs are not the only ones that get second chances in life.”

This seems like a good time to mention a somewhat local rescue that does a fantastic job saving, fostering, and adopting out only seniors. Frosted Faces, located in Ramona, California, has a mission to find families for senior dogs. They go above and beyond when it comes to medical care. “We cover lifelong medical expenses and medication for seniors with chronic diseases at partnering veterinary practices,” the rescue said. For more information, to view the available dogs for adoption, to become a foster home, or to make a donation, visit www.frostedfacesfoundation.org.

In conclusion, one of the most impactful responses came from Canyon Lake resident Beverly Chavira. When asked what she loved most about her senior dog Bunny-boo, Chavira replied, “I love how much more he loves me and I love him.” Isn’t that the truth? No matter how much we love our dogs, they still find a way to love us more. So let’s love them at all stages of life, their time here is limited but the love we receive is limitless.

Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.

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