Recently, Elvis, my black pug, celebrated his 13th birthday. Elvis is the same age as my nephew Benny. However, while Ben is in the throes of puberty and starting to think about PSATs, Elvis is the dog-equivalent of a 91-year old man, although, he’s in good shape for a canine senior citizen. While he’s got arthritis and his black paws and muzzle have gone silver, he can still make a run for it if you’re holding a cookie.
Elvis’ pug brother Romeo will turn 14 in December. Romeo has not fared as well in the canine-aging process. He’s extremely deaf, he’s lost most of his teeth, and I sometimes find him standing in the kitchen wondering where he’s supposed to be. Romeo often reminds me of my elderly father. They both spend most of their day taking a nap, they’re always happy to see you, and they never say “no” to a snack.
When I take the Pug Boys for a walk, people often stop us to pet them. They are always surprised when I tell them how old Romeo and Elvis are. Invariably their next question is, “Well, how long do they live?” I find this question offensive, although I’m sure they don’t mean it that way. After all, when people find out that my Dad is 85, they don’t ask about his life expectancy! Neither the Pug Boys, nor my Dad, come with an actuarial table, so we’ll just to hope for the best. In a perfect world, they will all live to be 100!
My senior pugs still greet me with enthusiasm when I return home from work, but it is sad to watch them slow down. Several of my friends also have senior pets, enough that we could probably form a senior pet support group. My friend Joannie recently spent a small fortune treating her 11-year old Boston Terrier for glaucoma, sadly without a good prognosis, and my friend Eleanor just had a cancerous lump removed from her senior Scottie’s lip. My co-worker Jen has an elderly cat with asthma, who she treats with a pet-sized inhaler. My neighbor Frank just had a funeral for his beloved cat, who passed away at age 21. He buried her in his back yard under a rosebush.
Sadly, escalating medical costs are often a reason why elderly pets come into rescue because their owners can no longer afford to take care of them.
It is indisputable that our pets are an integral part of our families. Do you have a senior pet? Do they require special care?