Living With Senior Dogs

It’s not easy watching your dog grow old. Their steps become slower. Their joints get stiff or fail them. Their eyes fail them. Their hearing fails them. All age related issues you see in geriatric humans, you’ll see in your canine family member. You become acutely aware that your time together is shortening, and you deny to yourself that they’re a step closer to their final days, but you celebrate their age. she’s no longer 11, she’s “11 1/2”, she’s just “two months from 13”. Half-birthdays and extra months are celebratory events.

Rumble *13 in two months*, has never had an accident in the house, but did this past Saturday – Two times, within 5 minutes, then immediately went again outside. These were full-stream events. The next night, she peed and vomited in her crate during the night. Soooo…. That’s somewhat textbook for a urinary tract infection. Her urine was collected. How do we do that? Well, Rumble is a LOW squatter, so getting any urine from under her is impossible. We crated her, we lined her kennel with new clear plastic used to protect the floors for painting, or for covering plants, let her out after a hour in the crate, and into her plastic lined run, she goes, and we suck it up into a syringe. It helps us to get a clean (althought not sterile) urine catch. Off to the vet we go…

No, she’s not off her food [Rumble will eat up to the last minute of her life, I’m sure], and her behavior is normal. She has slowed down over the last month, and for the first time a few weeks ago, declined to chase a ball gently rolled for her to fetch. Her eyes are covered with old age cataracts. Her hearing is pretty good. She can absolutely hear the food bowls being readied. She does have some selective hearing – she loves to wander outside of the yard, and declines to hear me when I call her back. She’s a bit gimpy on one rear leg, following the gift of a body-slam from her granddaughter, and the subsequent CCL rupture, which we had repaired with a traditional ‘tight-rope’ sort of repair, using suture to create a make-do ligament. I would not put a nearly 12 year old through a TPLO, as the recovery is notable.

The vet checked the urine, which was amber colored and clear, only to find her urine tested clear of red blood cells, or leukocytes. A urinary analysis. checks for:

  • color
  • appearance (whether it is clear or cloudy)
  • odor
  • pH level (acidity)
  • substances that are not normally in urine, such as blood, too much protein, glucose, ketones, and bilirubin
  • cells, crystals, and casts (tube-shaped proteins)
  • bacteria or other germs

Her U.A. showed nothing that indicated urinary tract infection. We agreed to send it in for a culture and sensitivity regardless, just in case we caught it very early, and a culture would allow bacteria that was not detected, to grow. Well, that was a surprise. We were pretty sure she’d have a urinary tract infection.

On to check the other organs! Her blood was drawn for a “senior panel”
Complete blood count (CBC) checks for

  • total number of red blood cells (the RBC count)
  • total amount of hemoglobin in the blood
  • percentage of blood made up of red blood cells (the hematocrit)
  • average red blood cell size (the mean corpuscular volume)
  • average weight of hemoglobin per red blood cell (the mean corpuscular hemoglobin)
  • average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell (the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration)
  • total number of white blood cells
  • number of each type of white blood cell (the WBC differential), including neutrophils (the absolute neutrophil count, or ANC)
  • number of platelets (the platelet count)

Biochemistry profile:

albumin, total protein, alkaline phosphatase, SGOT, SGPT, blood Urea, creatinine, bicarbonate (HCO3 ), chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, cholesterol, glucose, lactate dehydrogenaseric acid.

A chemistry profile of various organs:

Liver Disease Markers For Liver Cell Injury Or Congenital Liver Disease:

Total Bilirubin., Alkaline phosphatase, SGOT and SGPT, Total protein, Albumin, LDH

Kidney Function Panel For Kidney Diseases:

Urea (Blood urea nitrogen), Creatinine, Electrolytes

Electrolyte Panel For The Status Of The Hydration Of The Body:

Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, CO2, and pH.

Thyroid hormone testing for Hypo Or Hyperthyroidism

Rumble’s Senior panel was perfectly normal. Her heart and lungs were normal. What are we left guessing if that culture and sensitivity come back normal? Probably canine senility, or cognative disorder, which is often demonstrated by a normally housetrained dog who suddenly starts having “accidents”; they signal less to go outside and may urinate or defecate indoors soon after being outside. This can progress to disorientation or confusion, disturbances of the sleep-wake cycle, decreased activity level, and sometimes less interaction/recognition of housemembers. She likely was aware that she had urinated in her crate that night, and this was stressful enough for her to cause her to vomit.

We’ll place Rumble on “Bright Mind” dog food, which, in our experience supports canine senior related cognative issues very well, and helps them with arthritic issues. We saw dramatic changes with Tank and Lucas. Hopefully this will help Rumble have a great quality of life. She’s still bright, healthy, and happy. That’s all we care about. Hopefully this diet will support the continuance of a happy life. We are likely just seeing the effects of age, which is a normal part of life. We’ll also have to pay more attention to her in the house, and get her out more regularly. She’ll likely need more baths if she has accidents in her crate, and beyond that, she’ll just live out her life as a well-loved old lady canine.

Body Slams Happen!

We’re at the Vet with Rumble. Her CCL got nuked: it’s not often you get a photo of the very second before the injury (lateral body slam), 8 days ago. We’re weighing the surgery options. Hip x-rays right now to see if her hips can support the knee fix (if we do one). At 11, weighing the risks of surgery vs the deterioration of the knee and pain, is hard.

UPDATE: Hips look good. She’s a good candidate for surgery. Surgery scheduled for 12/11/20.

We discussed many approaches.

He does not feel the splints are useful. To be effective in keeping the knee stable, they’d have to be very tight. We’d end up with muscle atrophy and possible skin wear.

We both agree that a TPLO is way too much for an old girl. I won’t consider that.

We both agree the lateral suture technique is best suited for this girl (for young and middle-age dogs, TPLO IS 100% my fix of choice) but I need to thin her down a bit (weight reduction commencing now!) for a lateral suture technique!

He favors a “wait and see in two months” approach to see if scar tissue develops sufficiently to stabilize the knee, and go from there, but agrees that two months in the life of an 11 1/2 year old is a lot (my argument).

My thinking:

  • Dan is recovering from neck surgery, and will be very limited until at least Feb. having two in recovery is better than one at a time.
  • Two months puts her even closer to 12. Age is a enemy to surgical healing.
  • waiting two months allows for two months of scar tissue to develop, and scar tissue just builds on itself. Might as well minimize that as much as possible to make the surgery easier.
  • I hate for her to be in pain. The sooner she is out of pain, the better.
  • she just had a geriatric panel a couple of months ago. It looked great. We’ll do another the day of surgery, but we have the knowledge that she is in good shape now.
  • She’s on a anti-inflammatory now, so her pain will be controlled, and inflammation reduced. I think there is no reason to wait.
one second before Lili delivered an epic body slam

We’re all dressed up for Halloween


Every year we dress up the website for Halloween.  There are games on the Halloween page for kids.  It’s rather fun for us to browse those pages, as many of the dog photos are from dogs who left us long ago.  It’s like a little trip through time.  There are coloring pages, puzzles, and games there.   We hope you enjoy them.

This time of year finds us winterizing and getting the dogs ready for winter.  They’re Labs, so they’re happy with snow, but we always worry, and put up lots of wood for the wood burning stove in the kennel building (aka “the big dog house”)

Happy Fall!
Dan and Dian

Rose’s TPLO surgery a year later

One year ago in March, I let four older puppies out to play in the snow, on our first sunny day.   They blew out of the kennels as if shot from a cannon, and three of them simultaneously body slammed Rose hard!  She came up on three legs.  We knew immediately what they had done.  They tore her CCL.  We had a TPLO done on her.  The recovery is slow, and as with all Orthopedic surgery, *full* recovery takes a year.   Well, here we are, one year later!

Sadly, we are having trouble showing you a normal gait, because … well… she’s a very happy, very silly 2 year old.  THIS does show you that there is life after TPLO, and that life is very good.

Our Silly Luna

Luna Never fails to make us laugh! She comes in the house and one-by-one removes her favored toys from the toy box. As she removes each one, she will parade it around and show it off, then lie near it, admiring each in turn, before she goes on to the next.  She covets her toys.  If her toy of choice is below another in the box, she’ll move the top one aside, then choke herself to get the lowest one. Some we keep outside, and she has her stash there too. This takes most of the day, and by the end of the day, the den is filled with toys, and a contently sleeping dog!


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Luna Stacking Lessons Aborted

First, I had a foot surgery that stoped our daily lessons, then the weather changed, preventing me from continuing once I could ambulate. The Dr. gave strict orders about keeping the dressing dry. A canvas, pen toe boot is not conducive to keeping it dry in about six inches of sticking snow. After a week of snow on the ground, I decided her lessons would have to wait until spring! — sigh!

This was our training area view the past several days:

That’s hard to navigate in this shoe!

Luna Stacking Lesson 2

Some days you take three steps back. Today is one of those days. Luna had no interest in the bait, declined to hold still, would not position her feet, gave me squinty eyes and pinned back her ears (her favorite thing when someone is trying to make her do something other than play). So, we focused on standing still, and not crouching up on me. A few successes, and I called it a day, ending with her just standing still. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day!

“You can’t make me!”

“I can’t. I just CAN’T”

“I won’t pay attention! I won’t look at you! I think I am being tortured!”

Nope… I won’t open my eyes, and I won’t lift my ears!

“This is all you’re going to get!”

DONE! I’m *so* exhausted from that 15 minutes of torture!

Luna Stacking Lesson 1

Luna needs to learn to stack for showing! She’s a wild child, who runs up on me and thinks she needs to stack with her nose touching my knees. She’s not a baby anymore (even though she acts like one!). So… every day, we’re going to practice being a show dog. First lesson, is to simply stand still away from me. Style and finesse is not the object. We’ll work on just one thing…stand still away from me. A barrier on the ground (a hose) will be her target that says “do not cross!”. We’ll do no more than 15 minutes/day, end on a success, and have a play session after.

Here we go…..

Nope, don’t cross the boundry!


She’s letting me get further away:

Much better!

Now, without the pipe, and we’re done for the day!

Sacred Duty

We have been asked how we decide on homes for the dogs we place. The answer is simple. We believe the right home exists for every dog, and the right dog exists for every responsible person, but not all dogs and people are right for each other. It is our responsibility to select wisely, and that is where experience and God come in. I trust that we will be sent people we need to speak to, but that doesn’t mean I’m being sent people who need a dog! My husband tells me I spend more time talking people out of a dog than into a dog. I think he’s right!

We have been blessed with some of the best placements we could have prayed for, and the reason, is that we ask hard questions, make hard observations, and critically evaluate the dogs in question. I can not count the number of calls I have received from prior placements, telling me that the dog died of old age, that it was treasured, and provided a family with a life filled with love. At that point we know we are blessed. We have had families who, in 38 years in this, have as many as three dogs from us pass away well in their senior years. My heart is full when I hear their stories, even if through grief.

Our placement decisions are a sacred duty!


Job 12:7

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.”

Dogs can tell you a lot about people. We watch people and dogs together. Nothing is set in stone until an animal demonstrates to me that these are the people for them!



“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”

We’re responsible for those things that are precious to their creator!


We love these creatures we have been trusted with, and we are tasked to be sure the arms we place them in will care for and love them. That is our criteria.




Website Built by Blue Knight. All graphics , photographs, and original articles are the property of Blue Knight.  Permission must be obtained for use on other sites or for other purposes.