Nip Provides Lessons in Senior Dog Health Care

"This is 15-year-old Nip, quite possibly the sweetest, most gentle and affectionate Beagle 'fur person' that ever lived. She sits in her Daddy's lap on the day she was put to sleep, Easter Monday, 2001. Nip developed kidney problems the previous year due primarily to a dental infection that we did not catch in time. To all of you folks with elderly companions you love and cherish, I STRONGLY recommend a visit to the vet every six months minimum, and cleaning the teeth at home regularly. Also, make certain that you feed high-quality food that puts as little stress as possible
on the kidneys. We have learned a painful lesson with sweet, old Nip: you must be aggressive with the care and health of an older dog. It is a lesson we intend to utilize with Nip's daughter, who is now 12, because we want her companionship as long as possible. Make sure your old dog gets LOTS of clean water every day. Since Nip had very few teeth left, we made a 'soup' out of her two daily meals of K/D food by putting it in a blender with five or six ounces of water, in order to give her as much fluid as possible. And be careful about any other medications that might affect the kidneys. We tried hard, but we know that we made some avoidable mistakes. I hope that this message is helpful to others with an older dog with kidney problems. Nip was one of eight dogs we have had in our family, but she was so very special that her loss has left a deep impression and sadness with us. Nip's memorial site tells more about her." Contributed by Bob and Kathy Gaines, North Carolina. September 2001.

Noel, Age 11, Is Delighted with Company and Full of Energy

"Our dog, Noel, will be 11 years old in October 1998. She is a tri-color Collie. We got Noel when she was 3 years old from a family that found her too energetic for their household. Before we took her home to stay, we used to sneak her into our small condo, where she wasn't legally allowed, for week-end visits. We fell in love with her during these visits and finally found a rental home with a large fenced yard where we could have her live with us permanently. We take Noel for three to four walks per

day, which keeps her in good shape. Collies are a very sensitive breed, and, knowing this, we give her lots of love. She's delighted when people visit, and gets along well with our two cats, Zoey and Katy. Last year Noel was having problems getting up and seemed to have pain in her left hip. Our vet took X-rays and checked her out thoroughly. With medication, she has been doing great since then. She seems happy and full of energy now." Contributed by Harold Stranix, Santa Rosa, CA

Noodle and Kelly, at 10 and 13

Noodle

"Noodle, even though he's almost 10 years old, still acts like a puppy. He is an Australian Champion. During his 'show' days, he was always kept at a distance and was never very affectionate. I am sure he knew he had a job to do and had to 'act properly.' He also lacked attention during that time because I was on my own and had four dogs to attend to.

Since my husband came into our lives, he has totally changed. He gives the biggest kisses now and wants lots of hugs. He does flying leaps onto the bed to have cuddles and tummy rubs, and even does 'rolly-polly's' with paws in the air. He's had some close calls in his lifetime: he took a bait when he was about 12 months old, but luckily survived when I gave him the right medicine; collided with a pergola post and knocked himself out (which we think is what has caused his epilepsy); rebounded off a water bed; and did a flying leap off a balcony. He loves our dog Kelly (photo below), and often gives her kisses and will 'take her out' for me." Contributed by Sharyn Hurley, Queensland, Australia. (Update September 9, 1999: Sharyn Hurley wrote: "I have very sad news. Noodle has left us for the Rainbow Bridge. We got home and he had gone. We knew we did not have long left with him, but I hadhoped it would have been longer. .... I was not prepared for the loss of another friend, especially not this big, lovable sook. I am going to miss him terribly, too -- King Muck, Sir Noodle, my big, lovable Australian Champion.")
My Old Girl, Kelly "My Old Girl" Kelly

"I have had Kelly since she was 6 weeks old. She is now almost 13. We have had some wonderful years together. She has been the best dog I have ever owned. She is affectionate, caring, and loving, and has personality plus. Kelly is a real food fiend. She can sense food at 100

paces. Any rattle that sounds like it might be food puts her under your feet. She loves attention, but only when she's ready for it. She loves cuddles, too, and gets on the bed for them, except when her hips are sore. She prefers being inside, and in winter wears a jacket. Poor old Kelly has arthritis, cataracts and benign lumps, but is otherwise healthy and happy, and enjoys life. She has been more than a friend; she has saved my life by being loving and just being there, and protecting me when I was on my own." Contributed by Sharyn Hurley, Queensland, Australia. (Update October 30, 1998: "Kelly passed away during the day before the vet got here. Ron found her this afternoon on the back verandah. She looked so peaceful. I just wish I had been there with her when she went. We celebrated her birthday yesterday. I bought her a cake and she had a piece. I tried to give her some this morning too, but she did not want any. Kelly was my first Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the mother of several puppies. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her, and she was pampered from that day forward. I loved all of my animals, but she was just ever so special. In some ways I thought she would never leave me, but I knew she had to one day. She was a stubborn old thing, and that is why I think she hung on till her birthday, and why she left me when she did. I think she wanted to please me and did not want me to see her go. Sometimes I wish I had loved her more and given her more, but she received a lot more love and attention than a lot of dogs do. I have a lot of fond memories of her, like the hugs she used to give, the kisses, and the play times we had. I have plenty of photos to look at, but there will not be another Kelly. Yes, I will get another one, one day, but she won't replace Kelly. I told her that her babies and friends would be waiting for her and that she would have a lot of fun at the Rainbow Bridge.")

Three Special Senior Golden Retriever Rescues

"This is OB and the story of her last 19 months. I found OB on 2/24/99 wandering on the greenway trail in the city where I live. She was approximately 12 years old. I turned her over to the rescue group I work with, but I remained her foster guardian. No one came forward to claim OB, and I had found the perfect home to adopt her, but, upon taking her to the vet, found she was full of a variety of malignant tumors. My vet said that, at best, she had six months to live. I decided not to place her into another home, because I knew I could give her the best care and make the 'right' decision when the time came. When I found OB, I already had 5 Goldens, including my other rescue OD (Old Dog). That is why I named her OB, for Old Bitch ... the perfect pair. OB, was not even spayed, but at her advanced age and problems, we decided it best not to do so. She did not know how to play and had to learn from my others. She craved attention and just wanted love. OB was truly special and raised two of my new show puppies. OB's six months passed quickly, and I was fortunate to have 13 additional months. OB went to the Bridge on 9/20/00, one of my show puppies also went with her on the same day ... so I know that she is there to watch over him as she did here on earth. She did not demand a lot, but she gave a ton.

"This is OD. He came to me in May 1998 at the age of 12. At the time, he was known as 'Sammy Davis,' which I hated, and so I instead called him 'Old Dog.' Soon that was shortened to 'OD.' I had four Goldens at the time I adopted OD, but he was truly special. He loved to ride in my Suzuki Sidekick with the top off and his hair blowing every where. At lights, he would sit up and gawk around, and he had the silliest Deputy Dawg face. In November 1998, I took OD along to the Eastern Regional Golden Retriever event held in Florida (pictured), for the Parade of Rescues. I also had taken my then-12-year-old show champion for the Parade of Title Holders. Peter was the oldest in the Parade of Title Holders and OD was close to the oldest Rescue. One thing that is often forgotten, when a Golden is a Senior, whether a Champion or Rescue, is that they are all Champions and they should be cherished forever. OD passed to the Bridge on 12/31/99. I had loved him for 19 months and miss him dearly even now. He was truly a dog to be cherished. What someone else discarded, blossomed in the love of my home."

"Bart ... what a dog! I recently adopted Bart at the tender age of 13. He is in tremendous condition. I received the call on 6/1/01 that there was a senior Golden at the vet's in horrible condition and could I pick him up on the 4th after his brucellosis test. So on the 4th, my husband went to get Bart. We advertised the required five days, and he was not claimed. Given his age and what we knew of his history, I decided it would be best if he stayed with me. Yes, I already had three Goldens and two Westies, but I just couldn't let this boy get bounced around anymore. I considered changing his name to 'OF' for 'Old Fart' like my two previous rescues 'OB' & 'OD' ... but he likes Bart. Bart is terrified of thunder storms, and surely that is how he escaped his previous home. He attempts to get out all our windows and doors, so he is crated during those horrible afternoon Southern showers. But, in the month he has been here, he has settled in like a trooper. I work in a nursing home and hope to soon have him come occasionally as my other Goldens do. Bart has not been with me long enough to have a wonderful story .... YET. But I surely hope to have him long enough to share some memorable moments. He is a sweet dog and truly Golden to the core."

These three wonderful Golden profiles were contributed by Peggy Zionts, Apex, NC. September 2001.


The Story of "Oliver" -- or --
It's Never Too Late to Get a New Leash on Life

The moral of the story of the dog "Oliver" is that you're never too old to start a new life, especially if you have a sweet temperament and still like to play with your ball. Picked up as a stray in San Francisco, Oliver endeared himself to everyone he met, from the dogwalkers at the park where he was found, to the staff at the city pound. The vets at the pound estimated his age at 20, due to the awful condition of his coat, his swollen ears, and his two remaining, worn-down teeth. But that didn't matter to Elizabeth Kander, who took him home to live happily ever after with her other two mature, rescued dogs, Froggie and Jack.

Kander says Ollie is a great dog and it just wasn't time for him to go yet. Ollie most definitely agrees and is taking a strong hold of his new "leash" on life.

Oliver was first noticed wandering in one of San Francisco's parks, where he appeared to be desperately searching for a lost companion. A ranger picked up the old dog and called San Francisco's Animal Care and Control, who sent Animal Control Officer Michael Scott for him. Officer Scott’s first reaction to seeing the dog was that he was "ancient."

Back at the shelter, the dog was evaluated for health and behavior, and, on his intake chart, the vet wrote down "20" as his age. Due to his age and poor physical condition, it was decided, if no one claimed him within the required waiting period, that he would not be put up for adoption but rather euthanized. It was thought there couldn’t possibly be anyone who would want to adopt such an old dog in such bad condition.

Anne Bennett, who is a Veterinary Technician at San Francisco Animal Care and Control, didn't see it that way. As the dog’s time was about to run out, she took him under her wing and called the San Francisco-based Senior Dogs Project to ask if they couldn’t help. In the meanwhile, Kander, who had seen the dog at Fort Funston, called the shelter to find out whether they had picked him up. That evening, she and her husband went to the shelter to see him and to make the decision about adopting him. It was a definite "yes."

In addition to their adoption of older dogs, the Kanders have begun their own spay/neuter program in Indonesia. They personally arrange for and fund spay/neuter surgery and other veterinary medical attention for the area’s dogs and cats in an effort to stem the tide of pet overpopulation and inhumane conditions. They are in need of donations, particularly in the form of vaccines. (Elizabeth Kander can be reached by E-mail at: lizk@sirius.com)

As Officer Scott saw Ollie leave with the Kanders, he, too, said he wouldn't have let the old dog be euthanized. "I would have taken him myself," he said.

The Senior Dogs Project is deeply grateful to the Kander family and to Vet Tech Anne Bennett and Officer Michael Scott of San Francisco Animal Care & Control for their extraordinary examples of compassion. Such compassion bodes well for the future of companion animals in our society. We hope that, very soon, euthanasia guidelines at shelters will not list "age" as a factor in deciding which animals are put up for adoption. In fact, we hope that, very soon, there won't be a need for any euthanasia guidelines at all.

(Update October 2001: Sadly, Oliver began to fail and went off to the Rainbow Bridge.)


Oliver, Age 10

Oliver, age 10"My story is about my beloved Oliver, who just turned 10. He was our 'first,' and with us long before children and mortgages. My husband -- then my boyfriend -- had bought a house and I, being a doglover, felt it important that he have a dog to go with the house. I purchased Oliver, put him in a big basket, and presented him at a surprise party. The man and the dog immediately took to each other. This picture was taken on my son's first day of pre-school. The dogs, most notably Oliver, never allow my son, Chase, out of their sight. I thought this photo captured the essence of the dogs' feelings that their little one was leaving the nest. Notice the really worried look on Oliver's face (at the left)!" Photo and notes contributed by Deirdre McQuillan, Portola Valley, CA.