When our pets grow old…

I wish this was about me getting old, or the Mr’s parents or something other than Shasta.  Shasta is slipping to the other side of growing old and it’s breaking my heart.

Shasta is 11 years old and is the love of my life. That’s her on the right.  She captured my heart the moment I first saw her and has had it ever since. She has been the absolute best friend a girl could want.  The unconditional love and joy that she brings me is unmeasurable. How can you not love a dog that:

  • jumps up and runs to the door to greet you — with twinkling eyes and a smile (yes, dogs smile). It’s a routine we’ve had since bringing her home. I open the door, she sees me and I get my lovely greeting and ton’s of kisses. I give her hugs and pets and all is well in our world.
  • loves riding in the car with you, nose out the window smelling all the things that dogs smell, leaving doggie kisses all over the back windows.
  • requires love and kisses at bedtime and lets you know you forgot by thumping her tail and making little noises.
  • has from puppyhood, always held up the couch or a wall with her paws, because it was there. Her way of keeping us safe, I suppose.
  • rolls over for belly rubs if you approach her when she is on her bed or the floor?
  • will nuzzle you when you are sad (she knows these things) or crying. Or the millions of times we’ve talked (her language, not mine) and howled like we were a real pack of wolves. These are a few of the million things that I love about her.

Being childless, we’ve had a myriad of dogs over the years – all fun, all loving, all different, all like children to us. Shasta has been the easiest and has the best disposition. Oh, she’s had her ‘moments”  like when she went on adventures when she was with Shadow (our Lab) or when she taught Koda (her daughter) about adventures early on.  With 10 acres and plenty of places to roam, who wouldn’t take an adventure now and then? We rarely had to discipline her – it would just crush her if we raised our voices to her. All she has wanted was to be part of the pack. Little did she know that she was the “queen” of the pack (and I’m supposed to be the alpha!).

She has always been a spunky happy girl. Yet, I’ve noticed how grey her muzzle has become (white actually), how incredibly difficult it is for her to maneuver the stairs and how she makes those little noises (just noise, not cries of pain) when her back leg joints hurt. I’ve watched as she takes the stairs one at a time rather than be left alone downstairs without the “pack.”  (We’ve tried to keep her downstairs, but she won’t have it).

I’ve noticed how much more she sleeps and how she’s not as spunky as she was. I’ve noticed how it’s becoming more difficult to take her for walks around the farm, we avoid the hilly parts and the walks are much shorter. She still greets me at the door, but it takes a while for her to get there and sometimes, she just stays on her bed – head up, eyes twinkling, tail wagging.

She’s an only girl now – we don’t have any other dogs and we won’t be “parents” to another once she leaves us. (It’s not selfish, it’s the right thing to do). She is not ill, she is still eating well, she still tries to catch Buddy, the tom cat and she doesn’t cry out in pain or anything like that. She is getting so much older now (for a hybrid she is really old) and I see changes in her happening a bit more every day.

It’s just not right that they are not around as long as we are, growing old with us. It’s nature, I know, but I don’t have to like it.  I’m dreading that time when we may have to decide what’s in her best interest.  We think that time is going to come sooner, rather than later.  I know my life won’t be the same without her…and that’s a fact.

  5 comments for “When our pets grow old…

  1. December 20, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    It’s so hard to watch as they grow old. And begin to have discomfort. I hope Shasta still has a long time to be with you. My thoughts will be with you both.

    • December 20, 2010 at 7:55 pm

      Thank you Renee for stopping by and for the comment. We’re also hoping she will be with us for a long time. Fingers crossed.


  2. December 19, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Aww, sweetie. It’s really tough to watch anyone age, pet or person. Even though it’s a part of life, we all want happy endings and not tears. It sounds like Shasta has had the best existence a doggy friend can ask for. You are all heart for this one. Please enjoy the time you have left together, and let us know when the time comes. Friends will be here for you.

    From the #usguys stream,


    • December 19, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      Thanks Jackie for the lovely comment. I agree it is tough to watch the aging process with pet or person. Shasta is spoiled rotten – more now that she’s a “lonely only” and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll let you know; here’s hoping it’s a ways down the road.


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