Well, you know I’m 9.5 yrs old now so I’m a pretty senior doggie, for a Dane. Us giant breeds don’t live as long as the little doggies – little Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas can go on until 17 or something! – but sadly, us giant breeds usually die much earlier.
The average lifespan for Great Danes is about 8yrs – yes, I know people are always saying “But I know a Dane who lived to 14!” – sure, there are Danes who live much longer and that’s wonderful but there are also lots of Danes who die much younger than 8yrs. I’ve known lots myself. :-( That’s why they say the average is about 8yrs, coz just because a few live to a grand old age doesn’t mean everyone will. It’s like some humans living to over 110, so yes, humans can live that long…but most human still die in their 80′s (or even younger!).
Oh, it’s not like my humans expect me to drop dead any minute – of course they hope that I will be one of the ‘longer-living Danes’ – but they also don’t want to be like an Ostrich-with-its-Head-in-the-Sand. Even if you’re really healthy, the Cancer Monster can still strike at any time! So you have to face facts and be prepared – that’s one of the things if you want to have a giant breed.
Anyway, so for a Great Dane – if you’ve passed 8yrs, you’re doing pretty well! The vet says I’m about 80yrs old in human years, so I’m a pretty old girl now.
Although my humans say what’s really important is whether you’re still healthy and have “good quality of life”. Age is just a number – and it’s no big deal getting a big number, if you have a miserable ‘non-life’ to go with it. Like the humans who get to over 100yrs old but they don’t know who they are and can’t eat much or move around but just lay in bed, sleeping most of the time…my humans say the real achievement is to be like Edna Sheppard – a happy 90yr old lady who still goes to the gym and does aerobics, body pump and tai chi, plus ballroom dancing in between and walking group every Wednesday!
Well, I’ve been very lucky so far to still be pretty healthy and active for a senior doggie – even though I’ve only got 1 eye now (because of the Glaucoma sickie) – but overall, I’m still pretty much doing all the things I used to as a younger doggie: I still go for walks every day, love chasing my ball & fetching sticks, get up & move around with no problems, remember all my tricks and love going on adventures to new places & meeting new friends. I just do it all a lot slower now – hee! hee!
But I don’t want you to think that I’m some kind of SuperDoggie with no problems – as I’m getting older, I’ve started getting some “issues” too, especially in the last 6 months or so, since I turned 9yrs – so I want to share these on my blog, so people don’t have unrealistic ideas and know what life can be like with an old doggie – even a relatively healthy one!
Warts ‘n All
I’ve been getting awfully lumpy & bumpy as I’ve gotten older – and getting weird little warts growing out of my skin all over my body! Paul says this is a normal thing in old doggies (old humans too!) and most of the time, the warts and lumps aren’t anything to worry about – although you should always get the vet to check them, just in case.
Sometimes, even if they aren’t anything scary (like the Cancer Sickie), they can still be annoying – like last year, I had a wart on one of my back legs which stuck out sideways a lot and kept banging into things when I was moving around…and so it kept bleeding. It wasn’t giving me ouchies but it was annoying: every time it finally healed up, it would rub against something again and break open and there would be blood everywhere again!
So finally my humans asked the vets if they could remove it. Luckily, it was growing out on a “stalk” and so it was quite easy to cut off. Since I’m such a calm, placid doggie who isn’t bothered about going to the vet, they didn’t have to worry about sedating me or anything (which would be risky because of my age & heart). The vet just shaved the fur from around it, gave me an injection to numb the area around the wart and then just “snipped it off” with a special knife. I didn’t even notice he was doing it!
So that wart is gone now…but I’ve got another one growing on my back! And it’s huge & ugly and looks like a big, fat, black tick! In fact, when my humans first saw it last year, they panicked coz they thought it WAS a tick…and back in Sydney (New South Wales), there are paralysis ticks which can kill a doggie in 48hrs if you don’t get the antidote early enough (Thank goodness, there are no paralysis ticks in Western Australia – another great thing about moving to Perth! ) . So they were trying to pull it off with a special tool for removing ticks and they were yanking & yanking – and oh, it was very ouchie!
Finally, my stupid humans realised that maybe it wasn’t a tick after all – and they took me to the vet to check and found out that it was actually a wart.
Hsin-Yi hates it – she thinks it looks really ugly and creepy and she keeps worrying that it might burst and bleed everywhere…but this one isn’t growing on a stalk and so to cut it off would mean a big hole in my skin with lots of bleeding – which would then need to be stitched up…and they would need to put me under Anaesthetic to do that, which you know is too risky with my age & my heart…so there is nothing we can do about this wart. The vet said the best thing is just to leave it alone. Anyway, it is not really bothering me and luckily, it is on the top of my back so there is less chance of rubbing it against things. My humans just have to be careful when they are grooming me…and it’s just very ugly.
My humans have also been noticing that I have funny little lumps under my skin in lots of places now. Most of them are quite small and they sort of slide around under the skin when you push them – but I’ve got one in my side that’s pretty big – you can feel it if you run your hands down my side; you can’t always see it but from certain angles, it really sticks out. Look – can you see it here in this picture – a bump sticking out on my left side?
My humans got quite worried when they discovered it at the end of last year – so they took me to the vet (again!) to get it checked. The vet sucked out some cells from the middle of the lump with a needle (this is called an “aspiration”) – and then sent the cells off to a lab, to be looked at under a microscope and check what kind of cells they were.
Don’t worry – they were just fat cells and this kind of lump is called a lipoma. These are just fatty lumps that grow under the skin, especially as you get old – humans get them too when they get older. They are “benign”, although they can grow quite big sometimes! Of course, you should always get any suspicious lump checked out but as long as they’re lipomas, you usually don’t have anything to worry about.
For more information about warts & benign lumps, check out: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/08/02/whats-that-strange-scary-lump.aspx
Stiff & Creaky?
One of the sad things about Great Danes – and most giant breed doggies – is that we often get the Arthritis Sickie quite early – even as young as 3 or 4yrs sometimes! Back when we were living in Newcastle and my humans had to go to France for Hsin-Yi’s brother’s wedding – I went to stay in a local kennels and there was another Great Dane there too. He was only 6yrs old but oh my goodness, he had such bad arthritis, he could barely get out of his bed in the mornings and just wobbled around – it was very sad to see. The Kennel Humans there couldn’t believe that I was 2yrs older than him at the time and thought it was very sad that he was so stiff & weak already.
I have been very lucky so far to not really have the Arthritis Sickie bother me – although in the last 6 months, I am starting to get stiffer (Hsin-Yi says it’s about time at 9 & 1/2! She’s thinks its unfair that she’s stiff & sore & creaky every morning and she’s a lot younger than me in human years! ) I’m still pretty agile and get up & lie down with no problems, climb stairs, jump over things, go under things, turn around in tight spots and reverse out of narrow places. But I don’t do so much running & jumping around now – although that might be more because I’m not that interested in playing with other doggies anymore at my age. ;-) I do still get very excited & run & jump when my humans get my football out or when I see a stick at the beach!!
I had a big Arthritis Check-up a couple of years ago and X-rays done, around that time when we were in Brisbane and I jumped up after a possum in a tree and hurt my back (remember? ) – and I have been getting a thorough Arthritis Check at the vet twice a year since, to test all my joints & range of motion.
I just had another one after we got to Perth and the vets said that they were very impressed – I didn’t have any problems in any of my joints, except for a very small bit of “clicking” (this is the classic sound of arthritis in the joints) in one of my back ankles – but it was only a very mild one and not bothering me at all. My hips are great too, with good extension & rotation and stability.
The only place I have more arthritis now is in my lower back (lumbar region) – where I’ve got this thing called Spondylosis (when the spine bones get thick and sort of merge together – so it becomes stiff & doesn’t bend so easily. A lot of humans get this too – in fact, Paul has this in his spine – a lot worse than me! – and that’s why he had to have a back operation a few year’s ago).
You can get Spondylosis in your whole spine which can be very ouchie & disabling – but I’m lucky that I only have it in my lower back and so I just get a bit sore there from time to time.
It doesn’t stop me doing anything or moving around but my humans have noticed that if we walk for too long, I start to get tired and my lower back starts to sag & my back legs droop down…you know, it’s like humans with a bad lower back who get sore & tired if they have to stand up for too long and they start to stoop…
So now my humans have made my walks shorter and instead of walking for 1hr every day, we usually only go for about 30mins. And we don’t walk so fast now (very hard for Hsin-Yi! ) – so that I can go at an easier pace and stop to sniff things and potter around – which is what I like to do now, much more than run around like a loony!
It’s not giving me any pain – my humans were worried about that so they asked the vet and they tested giving me painkillers for 1 week, to see if I suddenly changed my behaviour…but I didn’t show any change at all. The vet said this shows that I’m not actually in any pain – which is very common in mild spondylosis – you just get stiff but no pain.
There is no real treatment for it – it’s just part of getting old – and you just have to change your lifestyle: Hsin-Yi says no more rough playing for me – SOB! (Not that I meet many doggies that I want to play with these days but I do like boisterous puppies and you know when I play, I play ROUGH! )
But the vet says I have to be very careful now – especially if another doggie smacks into my spine while playing – that can really injure me. It might be what started the Spondylosis in the first place, because arthritis in the spine often starts after an initial injury. Still, he said that it’s really important for me to keep moving and doing things: exercising & mobilising my spine – the worst thing for me would be to just lie around, doing nothing, coz then I would just get stiffer & stiffer and worse and worse! I just have to do things more gently & carefully now.
My humans have also been wondering about my bed and whether they should be changing that, as I’m getting older. It’s really important to have the right bed for us senior doggies, to make sure that we get enough cushioning & support. Dog beds used to be pretty boring but now there are so many different kinds to choose from! My humans have been looking at some online shops, like Dogs Corner, where they have some gorgeous beds – but they’re still not sure about changing my bed because you know how fussy I am!
I LOVE my beanbag bed and have always refused to sleep on anything else other than a bean bag. From the time I was a baby puppy and first came home from my breeders – even though my humans had prepared a lovely bed for me with a baby cot mattress & an old feather duvet – I just climbed on their beanbag seat and decided that that was going to be my bed!
Back in Auckland, my humans once spent lots of money paper buying me a fancy “orthopaedic bed” with a special mattress that was designed to be extra cushiony…but I refused to sleep on it and slept on the floor next to the bed instead. Oooh, Hsin-Yi was so grumpy! In the end, they had to cave in and give me back my beanbag – and donate that bed to a dog charity. That was a few years ago but my humans are still nervous about buying another expensive new bed for me now, in case it’s another terrible waste of money paper! Anyway, look my beanbag bed is very comfy & very cushiony, really…
…and it supports my body very nicely. Hsin-Yi was just worried because she says bean bags are not “solid” and so it takes a lot of effort to get out of them (she says anybody who has sat in a beanbag and tried to stand up again will know what she means!) – and so she was worried about me getting out of bed. But I haven’t been having any trouble at all – I can still heave myself up, off my beanbag bed, in one lunge and stand up! (Maybe having to do that every day has actually kept my muscles stronger for longer! )
A Wee Problem
Well, now I have to tell you about another problem that’s a bit more – *whispers* – embarrassing…but Hsin-Yi says it’s good to talk about it because people never usually like to talk about these things; people always like to only show the good things and look nice all the time…but sometimes, it’s good to be honest about the “reality” of life too and not be ashamed, because it can happen to everybody as they get older.
Well, I don’t care what she says – I do feel ashamed because – ahem – I’ve started to get a bit “leaky” sometimes when I’m sleeping. Sometimes I wake up and there is a little wee puddle on my bed. Oh, it is very embarrassing!
It doesn’t happen all the time – only once in a while. It first started about 6 months ago, just after I turned 9yrs old – and it was happening a bit more often recently. The vet says it’s very common in girl doggies when they get old – especially if they have been spayed, like me. The muscles around the bladder get a bit flabby & loose and so when it gets full, a bit of wee leaks out. Paul says it’s a bit similar to what happens to human ladies – especially if they’ve had babies – as they get older, they sometimes get wee leaking out when they jump up or laugh or carry heavy things.
* Note from Hsin-Yi: In spite of what’s happening now, we would still spay the next dog we have – aside from being responsible pet owners, we feel that the benefits in terms of protecting from mammary, ovarian & uterine cancers, as well as pyometra (which many bitches die from) and false pregnancies (where many bitches get incredibly distressed) far outweigh the negatives. Sure, they might get some incontinence issues when they get really old – but hey, by the time you’re in your 80′s, I think you’re entitled to some ‘issues’!
I’m lucky so far that it isn’t too bad – I’m not leaky all the time, not like Hsin-Yi’s friend’s girl doggie who is dribbly all the time and has to wear a nappy all day, poor thing.
I just get it sometimes when I’m sleeping on my bed and very relaxed – that’s when everything just “lets go” and stuff leaks out! Well, my humans took me to my new vets here in Perth a couple of weeks ago & got my wee tested (just in case – coz you can get leaky if you have a urine infection too) – and he said everything was fine and this is quite normal for old girl doggies. He reminded my humans that I am about 80yrs old in human years and so I’m getting pretty old! Everything is getting flabby & saggy anyway, at my age!
Well, the vet said that there is a special medicine we can try, which is an artificial oestrogen tablet once a week – sort of like HRT for doggies!
But my humans had been trying something else themselves: the vet had said that I get more leaky if my bladder bag is full – so my humans decided to try making me wee more often, so that my bladder bag never gets really full. See, all my adult life, I only usually wee 3 times a day: once in the morning (after I wake up); once in the afternoon (on my walk) and last thing at night (just before my humans go to bed). So I’m usually holding it for 6 – 8hrs in between. But in the last few weeks, my humans have started an experiment: they have started taking me out at lunchtime and making me do an extra wee then, plus also get up earlier to take me out for my morning wee, so I don’t have to go for so long overnight…so now, I go in the morning at around 6am, at lunchtime, in the afternoon and last thing at night (usually around 10:30 – 11pm) – 4 times a day, with about 5-6hrs in between.
Well, the good news is that since they started doing this, I haven’t really had any more wee puddles! (Well, OK, I had one but that was because Hsin-Yi was very tired & lazy one morning and couldn’t be bothered to take me out at 6am…and so by the time I got up around 8am, there was a little wee puddle on my bed!)
The vet said this is a good sign and that we could try to manage this way for a while, rather than start the oestrogen tablets right away. We might still decide to use the oestrogen tablets as well, since they’re only once a week and a very low dose and the vet said they don’t have any serious side-effects – but my humans thought that if they can solve the problem another way first, it was worth having a go.
(* Paul says that even in humans – when older ladies get “incontinence” issues, the doctors always suggest lifestyle changes & physiotherapy exercises first, before popping lots of pills & drugs – because often they work just as well, if people can be dedicated enough to follow them. Hsin-Yi says it’s a shame there aren’t Kegel exercises for doggies – hee! hee! – but I have started doing some special Senior Doggie Exercises which is helping my body in lots of ways – I’ll tell you more about them in Part 2!)
Some of you are probably wondering if I’m taking any special supplements. Well, you know Paul is a Human Vet and he believes in “evidence-based medicine” – which means you have to have scientific proof for doing something to show that it really works, consistently, in many, many cases and not just in some stories from friends. A lot of the supplements that they sell for doggies promise lots of things but don’t really have any scientific proof to back it up, if you really research it. So I guess overall my humans aren’t really a big fan of supplements! They believe that it’s more important to have a really good quality, fresh, healthy, balanced diet and to get the nutrients you need from that.
But when we moved to Australia, all the people around us & vets kept telling my humans that they should be giving me supplements because I was getting older – and so they felt very guilty for not doing what everybody else was doing. And so they started adding joint supplements to my food for a while. Well, they didn’t notice any change in me at all (unlike all those people who say their doggies became like young dogs again! ) – and so last year, they thought it was stupid and stopped giving me supplements. Well, again, there was no change in me at all!
So they sort of figured that supplements didn’t make much difference to me. Whether I’m having them or not, I seem to be the same – I don’t get more active or jump around more or get more playful or anything. I’m just the same. (The main thing that makes a difference to how active I am is the weather! The colder it gets, the more like a young doggie I become! )
There is one thing which has good evidence to support it and that’s Omega-3 fish oils, which are a very powerful anti-inflammatory and can really help things like arthritis, allergies & IBS, as well as being good for the heart, kidneys, the immune system and the brain and fighting cancer. So that is really the only thing my humans believe in supplementing, although to be honest, I get the most Omega-3 fish oils from my Raw Diet - so I have been getting it pretty much all my life (I was swapped onto the Raw Diet when I was 3yrs old). As part of my Raw Diet, I get oily fish every Sunday ( fresh or tinned mackerel / sardines / pilchards) – so I get a regular, natural source of Omega-3 fish oils every week.
(You can also get them as little capsules from the supermarket or as special bottles – although the oil is very fragile and can go rancid easily. It’s why it’s better to have it in fresh, natural form rather than added into kibble, which might have been sitting in a factory warehouse for months. If you use bottled oil, make sure it’s kept in the fridge and use it up within 2 months. For more info, check out this article)
I also get a lot of natural glucosamine & chondroitin in my Raw Diet, through all the joints & ligaments that I eat in my raw chicken wings & chicken necks (and if you really want a high source, you can get chicken or duck feet!) – my humans think this is a much better way for me to get these nutrients, in a natural “bioactive” form – rather than in a factory-made pill.
The other thing that my humans decided to start giving me, starting from last Dec (on advice from vets) is Cartrophen – which is not a supplement. It is a type of medicine which helps your body grow new tissues to fight sickies (“a disease-modifying agent”). They give it to race horses to help keep their bodies working well and it works in 2 ways: it acts as an anti-inflammatory and it helps the body regenerate & replace the cartilage & synovial fluids in joints – so to “maintain” & preserve the joints for the future.
Well, the vets themselves said that although there is good research support for this, it doesn’t always have an effect for every doggie – some doggies show a big difference, other doggies don’t show anything. (Guess which type I am? Hee! Hee! ) You’re supposed to start with 1 injection every week, for the first 4 weeks – and then after that have a “top up” every 3 months (that’s if you’re well; if you’ve got bad ouchies from arthritis, you can have more injections more often – it doesn’t really have bad side effects). So I’ve done the first set of 4 in Dec last year – and then had a “top up” after we arrived in Perth. My humans aren’t really sure whether to continue ‘coz I’m not showing any difference at all – but since I’ve got pet insurance that pays for it and there isn’t really any harm in having it, I might just keep having it.
* Actually, my humans believe the most important thing that’s helped me stay so fit and not have Arthritis problems is regular, good exercise – more on that in Part 2!
Young at Heart
You know last year when I was rushed into the vet hospital in Sydney for the pressure spikes in my left eye, because of my Glaucoma Sickie – I was in a LOT of pain and so my heart was racing really fast. And so when they listened to it, they heard a funny murmur and when they did an ultrasound, they found that my heart is slightly bigger than it should be (just the ventricle, the atrium is still normal). This means that I have Pre-clinical Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). This isn’t serious yet but it can turn into Heart Failure and then that would be Serious Bad News. Most doggies who have Heart Failure usually die within 6 months, even if they are taking heart medicine for it.
But don’t worry – I am still “pre-clinical” which means my heart is just slightly enlarged but I don’t have any symptoms of Heart Failure yet. And doggies can remain in the “pre-clinical” stage for a long time – sometimes years – without developing Heart Failure. (It’s a bit like being HIV positive but not having AIDS yet…) Of course, eventually if you live long enough, you will get heart failure (unless you die of something else first!) but if you’re lucky, you might get many years in between.
But don’t worry – I’m fine. I had a follow-up heart check & ultra-sound (echocardiogram) 6 months after the initial diagnosis and the Vet Cardiologist said that everything had remained the same – my heart hasn’t got any bigger and in fact, they couldn’t even hear the heart murmur anymore. So that’s good news for the time being! I will be getting another follow-up check in June, here in Perth.
In the meantime, though, I’ve started taking special heart medicine (my “heart sweeties”! ) every day, called Vetmedin as a “prophylactic”. Even though I don’t have heart failure yet, they have done some research on Dobermann doggies and they found that if you start giving this medicine earlier – even before you get heart failure – then you can stretch out that “time in-between”, so that hopefully you can keep the heart pumping well for much longer. So even though you might have an enlarged heart, you can stay in that “pre-clinical” stage and don’t go into heart failure for a long time.
My heart sweeties cost a lot of money paper because I have to have 6 capsules a day (!) so thank goodness I’ve got pet insurance, which pays for everything. I get them twice a day, morning & evening, and my humans have found a great way to give them to me: stuck inside a piece of soft cheese! YUM! I get them together with the eye drops for my remaining eye – these are “preventative” eyedrops as well, to help stop my remaining eye from developing Glaucoma as well.
DCM is another sickie that is very common in Great Danes and some Danes get it as young as 1yr old! It’s very sad when they get it at a young age ‘coz it often means that there is a problem in their genes – and often it’s because they came from Backyard Breeders who didn’t do health testing before they bred their doggies.
But if you get it when you’re old, (like me! ) then the vet said that’s not because of your genes – that’s usually just because you are getting old and it’s a normal part of ageing for giant breeds. (It’s like if your mother gets breast cancer at 40, then that means there is a problem in the genes and you’re very likely to get breast cancer too…but if your mother gets breast cancer at 70, well, that’s just part of normal ageing – anybody can get cancer by the time they’re that old – and so it isn’t anything special connected to your genes.) All giant breeds get DCM if they live to old enough – it’s because our bodies are just too big for our hearts and so our hearts get tired out much faster than the heart of a smaller doggie.
As Far As I Can See…
Well, you all know the Big Glaucoma Saga from last year and how I’ve only got 1 eye now. Actually, I adapted really well to being blind on one side, probably because my left eye was slowly getting sickie for so long and I was seeing less and less, over many weeks – so I just got used to it gradually.
By the time they took my left eyeball out, I had already not been seeing with that eye for many weeks – so it was no big deal. My humans didn’t notice much difference in me after I lost my eye – I still moved around the same and didn’t bump into things and was fine in the dark…
…but then recently, in the last couple of months, after we moved to Perth, Hsin-Yi started noticing that I seemed to be having trouble seeing things. It all started when she was throwing sticks for me in the river and it was right under my nose and I couldn’t see it!
Well, at first my humans thought maybe it was because the river water was quite murky there and so the stick was difficult to see…but then on another day, they took me to another part of the river and it was bright & sunny and the water was crystal clear…and I STILL couldn’t see it!
Hsin-Yi also started noticing other things – like me starting to be nervous about going down stairs if they are all the same colour (like there is no strip along the edge) and hesitating in the dark and sometimes staring at people passing us in the street in a suspicious way, as if I can’t work out what they are and yes, I even bumped into a wooden post once!!
None of these things had happened straight after my eye surgery so it wasn’t because I had lost one eye – Hsin-Yi decided it must be a problem with my one good remaining eye. Of course, my humans were very worried that my remaining good eye was getting the Glaucoma Sickie too! So they rushed me to see a Veterinary Opthalmologist here in Perth, who checked the pressure in my remaining eye and did lots of prodding and poking and shining bright lights in my remaining eye…
…well, the good news is that I don’t have Glaucoma in my remaining eye! Whew! The pressure in it is normal. BUT – I am getting Cataracts in it and that’s why I’m having trouble seeing things now. The Vet Ophthalmologist said that it’s normal for old doggies to get cataracts – it is just part of the “ageing process”. I can still see but the middle of my vision is blurry now, so it looks like this:
And it’s also much harder for me now to see the difference between things if they are a similar colour. So for example, a pale thing on a bright background…I can’t see it, ‘coz they sort of merge into each other, like this:
Well, can you imagine if you only had 1 eye and your remaining eye could only see blurry things like this…! Hsin-Yi says it’s a miracle that I’m not bumping into more things!
Anyway, the Vet Ophthalmologist said that as long as I’m managing OK overall, it was better just to leave things alone. So far, it’s not really affecting my everyday life. I’m still moving about pretty confidently and going on my walks and running around in parks and finding my humans and not getting lost or anything like that.
It’s only certain situations, like at twilight when the light is really fuzzy & dim, if I’m in a completely strange, new place and I have to walk on something narrow or go on steep stairs…then I need a bit of help but otherwise, I’m managing fine by myself.
There is treatment for cataracts but it’s Surgery and of course, that would mean Anaesthetics, which is very risky with my heart & age. Yes, there IS a chance that my cataracts could get even worse and then I would be blind in my remaining eye – which would be Bad News
If that happens, then the Vet Ophthalmologist said it might be worth risking the surgery coz if I’m still healthy in every other way, it would be terrible for me to go completely blind because it would really affect my “quality of life”. But hopefully, we might never have to go there! The Vet said that cataracts can remain the same for a long time, sometimes, without changing or getting worse. So paws crossed!
Hey – but guess what? Hsin-Yi found this really cool new toy in the pet shop last week! It’s called The High Viz Dog Toys and they are specially designed for canine vision – so that it’s easier for us doggies to see them. You know us doggies are sort of colour-blind from birth, anyway – unlike humans, we can’t see all the colours of the rainbow – we can only really see blues & yellows.
Plus, our eyes are designed to be better at catching moving things (to help us with hunting when we were wild doggies) – so that’s why sometimes we can’t see something if it’s standing still, right under our noses – and then suddenly notice it when it starts moving!
So if we’ve got all these challenges already to start with – and then you lose one eye and your remaining eye is blurry, like me…well, it’s no wonder that I can hardly see things sometimes!
Anyway, Hsin-Yi was very excited when she saw these toys – coz she’d noticed that I wasn’t playing much with many of my toys anymore and she thought it was because I was just getting old…but now she started wondering if it’s because I can’t see them properly! (You know, it’s no fun chasing a stick if you can never see where to find it!)
So she got one and brought it home…and I LOVED it!! I haven’t gotten this excited over a toy in ages – look, I was bouncing & running around so fast, the pictures were all blurry!
And it’s floats too! So now my humans can’t wait to take it with us the next time we go to the river and see if I can play Fetch easier this time!
Age Before Beauty…
Well, I may still be a leggy blonde but I haven’t quite got the face & figure I used to have anymore. Gosh – you won’t believe what a dark mask I had when I was a young doggie! Although – like a lot of Danes – I started to go grey pretty early – my humans noticed grey hairs in my muzzle from the time I was 2yrs old! Of course, nowadays almost all my face is grey now (even my eye lashes are white now!) and I don’t have my dark mask anymore…although I haven’t got one of those beautiful white faces (yet!) that some Danes have.
Here’s a little collage showing me greying over the years…
The funny thing is, while my face is getting lighter – other parts of my body are getting darker!! My humans have noticed that I have started getting age spots, especially along my tummy…Hsin-Yi says if you turn me upside down, people might think I’m a Dalmatian!
Not only am I getting spotty but I’m getting really saggy too. Well, I always had a lot of – ahem – “excess skin” – which is one of the things Hsin-Yi loves best about me. She likes Danes with lots of wrinkles and jowls and baggy faces But now, I’m not just wrinkled on my forehead – I’m getting wrinkled in lots of other places too…like my chest! And the flap of skin between my body and my back legs (called “the skirt”) is sagging down a lot too. Hsin-Yi is always making fun of my saggy chest…Humph! I’d like to see how saggy her chest is when she’s 80yrs old!!
It’s not just the skin that’s saggy but my muscles aren’t as tight & toned anymore. This is partly because I’m not as active as I used to be so I’m not using my muscles as much but also because as you get older, you get “muscle wastage”. It’s really sad because I used to have such a nice, round bum & svelte back legs…and now, they are all thin & bony!
Paul says it’s a normal part of ageing (it’s why old men often have skinny legs like sticks!) although you can try your best to slow it down by continuing to do exercise and keep the muscles working as much as you can (more on that in Part 2!). I’ve still got good muscles – I can still swerve and turn and swoop when I’m chasing my football! – but I don’t have legs that look as nubile as they used to.
A lot of doggies get awfully fat as they get older – coz their metabolism is slowing down and they’re not as active as they used to be – but they’re still getting loads to eat, maybe even more than before coz their humans “feel sorry for them.” But letting their doggies (& kitties) get fat is the WORST thing that humans can do. Being overweight leads to all sorts of other sickies (like Diabetes) and makes Arthritis much, much worse. We see so many poor, old doggies waddling painfully down the street and they are so fat – if only they could lose a bit of weight, they would feel so much better!
My weight is about the same or slightly less, actually, than when I was a young doggie – I was always about 70kg (150lbs) all my life but my humans are keeping me slightly underweight now, at around 68kg, because they think that’s better for my heart & joints.
But you know – what’s weird is that I look less trim now, even though I weigh less! Hsin-Yi is always worrying that I look fat – and yet my weight is less than it was before. In that picture of me at 2yrs old (above), I was actually at my heaviest – at around 73kg (160lbs) but I look a lot thinner than now! Why is that? Paul says that muscle weighs more and I had more muscle then, as a young doggie – plus I was much more toned.
Hsin-Yi says it’s very sad to see the picture of me as a 2yr old doggie and how much I’ve lost my figure & my looks – but Paul says she’s being unfair to me; he says it’s normal to get a bit flabby as you age – and that most human ladies get a bit “thicker” around the middle as they get older. Plus he says it’s normal for people to “shrink” a bit as they get older coz they don’t stand so tall and upright anymore. Most 80yr old humans would have a stoop and wouldn’t be standing as tall as they did – nor have the figure they did – when they were 20yrs old! (Now Hsin-Yi is very worried about herself after Paul told her about the shrinking – coz she’s already quite a small human…if she shrinks anymore when she gets old, he might step on her by mistake or something! )
Anyway, the vet was very happy with my weight and said that I’m still in very good condition for my age. Here’s a picture Hsin-Yi took of me yesterday evening, when I was standing nicely by myself in the garden. Do you think my Cougar Days are over?
Anyway, who cares what you look like as long as you can still DO things and have fun? That’s the important part! I may be getting older – and greyer & flabbier & spottier & lumpier…but I’m still having loads of adventures and enjoying life to the full!