My red and white Setter Morgan turned 12 this week. I’ve owned him since he was 8 weeks old, so we know each other pretty well 😊 He is my first dog that has reached old age.
This last year he has definitely aged. We stopped doing agility training 2 years ago, but he still loves running around and chasing pheasants. We are going away for a week over Christmas on a walking trip and I think it will probably be the last one he will keep up with.
He has taught me so many valuable skills of owning a gun dog. Recall was certainly a challenge when he was younger as his love of chasing/stalking birds was so rewarding to him it was hard to compete. He taught me how to get involved in his games and showed me the love of doing the job you were bred for.
He is also showing me how to now meet his needs as an older dog. We get him massaged to make sure he is staying fit and flexible. Any signs of him hesitating to jump in the van is my usual cue that he needs a treatment. (Anna from Somerset Canine Massage is amazing with him). Things worry him more and changes to routines seem to upset him. I try to keep his routine the same and sometimes use herbal medication if I know we are going to have a busy period.
He definitely has some cognitive decline in that he doesn’t like being on his own (thankfully Cuba and Bria my other dogs help him) and has developed a new habit of chewing zips and buttons off any coats or jackets that are lying around. He is also more opportunistic and will counter surf any food left in the kitchen!! A story I have shared before is that he managed to take a 12 box full of eggs off the counter, carried it into the lounge and ate the cardboard box and didn’t break an egg !!!
He is still bright and willing to learn new skills; we are learning Rally and heel work at the moment. I think it’s so important to keep a dog mentally active for their well-being. Old dogs can learn new tricks 😊
Here’s to appreciating our oldies and remember they have earned the right to need some extra attention and patience to make every day special.