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How do you avoid lamenting an aging dog?

Mike Lewis

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Eddie is turning 10 next month. May 5th to be exact. He's energetic, healthy, happy.

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And I'm a mess.

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I don't want him to get any older. I'm paranoid that, healthwise, it's going to be all downhill from here. I don't know if I can take that. He's been a shining light his whole life. An overachiever. An obedience star. An agility star. A trick star. A therapy dog. He's taught me everything I know about dogs. He changed my life.

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I need advice from dog lovers who have been here before. How do you get through this stage of their lives? He could live to be 20! Certainly 16, 18. I don't want to waste any of his remaining years in the state of mind I'm in right now. I don't want to be lamenting his passing while he's still here. I want to appreciate every last minute of it.

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But that's where I am.

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I have another senior dog, a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Lucy who is at least 14 and likely on her last legs. I rescued Lucy as a senior dog, and she's been a senior dog the entire time I've owned her. I regret her aging, and her declining health makes me sad, but, for some reason, I accept it. I don't accept Eddie's aging. I had him as a pup.

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When I learned of a friend's Yorkie passing recently, I got emotional. Yoda was only 12. Though he was sick, diabetes, the timing seemed all wrong. I expected him to be here much longer than he was. Yoda was Eddie's peer, and here he was, gone. 

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I read and re-read every condolence for Yoda left on a Yorkie forum, and one of them had a quote that brought emotions I couldn't contain. It talked about 3 moments in a dog's life that the owner will never forget: The first time you see them, the moment you realize they're getting old, and the moment they leave you.

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I never let quotes like that get to me, but this one hit home. Have I had that second moment with Eddie? He doesn't seem old to me. Well, yes, I have to pick him up sometimes when he can't walk up stairs. But he's had leg surgery. Totally understandable. And, yes, he doesn't sprint as often as he once did. But old? No! He was acting like a pup just today.

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Still, I feel he's close. I feel like that second moment is coming. That's why I'm so paranoid. There was the picture last week (attached) when I thought he looked old. I've never seen that before in his pictures, and I take thousands of them. In this one, he looked more gray. He's a black and tan Yorkie cut short, and the gray seemed to be more dominant. His face, always strikingly handsome and confident, looked a little more unsure. Like maybe he felt a little pain at the end of the walk.

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I was probably mistaken. I hope so.

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But, surely, what I'm going through can't be new. To dog owners who have been here before, I ask, how do you get through these middle to late years? How do you avoid lamenting their passing before they're gone?

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I want nothing more than to cherish every second of the rest of his life.

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Do you have any advice?



Anchorage