Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All Things Dog Blog's Senior Dog, Xena, Showing her Age

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
(c) Carrie Boyko
First Alert Xena Aging Gracefully

When folks see my Xena at the dog park, they often comment on her apparent advancing age. With a gray snout and the reddish tint of a once-brilliant black coat, she is clearly a senior citizen. Yet her behavior and demeanor remains child-like and affectionate. She has aged with grace--a wonderful lesson for her owner.

Some two 1/2 years ago, Xena was diagnosed with liver cancer. Inoperable, because of its position and complexity, the doctors told us to prepare ourselves for only a few months left with her. Xena had a different plan.

Having been in her shoes once myself, I decided to give her the full court press. Switching to organic food, alkalizing her water, dropping a few less-than-necessary vaccinations that would have to be metabolized by the liver, all aided in lessening the strain there. A homeopathic herb was added to her diet as a liver aid, and life went on as usual.

Here we are are today, with an elder dog that just yesterday was still playfully frolicing with my husband's socks, and inviting Tanner to a short wrestling match and tag game.  I suppose this post is as much about Tanner as it is about Xena. His sensitivity to her weakened frame, as she continues to lose weight and become more fragile, is apparent in the gentle nature with which he plays. It's as if he is patronizing her for her less hearty ability to play these games. He knows her days are numbered when he sniffs her carefully each day.

This morning, after breakfast was served in her crate (a rarity), I returned later to check on her dish. She had eaten a few bites and returned to her slumber. I found Tanner standing guard at her crate opening, in apparent concern for her lack of appetite this morning. He had not eaten her breakfast--that was a telling behavior-- but gazed at me with knowing eyes, as if to say "Her time is coming, huh, mom?"

As I told Dr. Pat during a recent email exchange about her book on this topic, More than a Pet, I am going to have to be strong through this time for you. I'm lucky to have such a warm and concerned "therapy group" as my readers. 

Today, or even next week, may not be Xena's time. She is in no pain, as apparent by her daily sock-frolic. For that I am thankful. I'll ready her spot in our Rainbow Bridge Memorial, not to hasten the coming of that day, but to welcome her when it does happen. I'll keep you posted. One thing's for sure, if there is a doggie heaven, she'll be heading there when her time comes. We could not have been blessed with a more perfect dog. Tanner will have some big shoes to fill one day.
(C) Pat Bradley

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Carrie Boyko said...

With dinner just finished, Xena has just stolen a sock from the laundry and is tossing it around the living room. She's a youngster again!

Patti said...


It took me a year to let go of Bandit...I knew he was failing and being the selfsh pet mom I am, I did all I could to keep him pain-free and healthy but as the holidays came, he became worse - so much pain from his arthritis. I couldn't bear to let him go at Christmas, as I lost my dad on Christmas Eve, so, again, I was selfish but knew after the holidays, I would have to give him some peace....it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my 50 years....I miss him every day and am crying as I write this..I hope Xena stays with you healthy, happy and pain-free for several more years...we just never know :)

Dawn said...

Living 2.5 years more when the vet said only a couple of months!!! That is awesome. My dog Sephi is getting older and if such a need arises, I will be sure to consult you for more information on the homeopathic remedies.

Xena, Tanner and Oliver said...

Those questions should go to Dr. Pat, our Ask The Vet columnist. She's a holistic veterinarian with all the homeopathic training. She's awesome!

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