It’s probably more stressful for me to take my dogs to the Vet than it is for them to go. Clara doesn’t even notice when she gets shots. Lilo can be fidgety but usually isn’t too weird about it as long as I hold her head against my chest so she can’t get snippy. Both of the girls (Sheena is on a different schedule than the other two) were as good as dogs can be last night.
Granted both Clara and Lilo are edging up into “senior” territory which is a difficult reality for me to get through my head. Clara is 9, Lilo is 8, almost 9. I have had dogs live almost 16 years- Kayla would probably have lived even longer had we not decided to put her down when her DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) got so bad she was having trouble controlling her bowels and bladder. That really sucked, especially for a dog whose healthy weight was about 90#. I couldn’t carry her out, and eventually it got to the point where she didn’t know when she needed to go and then she’d just let fly which was humiliating to her and difficult for us. Kayla was otherwise healthy- except for the damned DM keeping her from being able to control her bathroom functions and use her rear legs. Unfortunately dogs don’t die from DM- but if they are left to die a “natural death,” they die from the pneumonia and heart failure brought on by inactivity.
Because Clara and Lilo both are crossbreeds and not purebred GSDs, it’s unlikely they will get DM like Kayla and Heidi both did. I am generally not a believer in “hybrid vigor,” but the likelihood of genetic disease is lower in mixed breed dogs. Heidi had other issues besides DM, though nine years of very poor care before we got her didn’t help. I doubt if I will ever have another purebred GSD for that reason- the American bloodlines are repositories for every wicked genetic disease under the sun- but who knows. I love the protection breeds.
In this pic, Clara (top) was a thin and lanky two year old- Kayla (bottom) was a healthy and active 14 year old. Kayla did wonders developing Clara’s confidence.
Lilo I know has hip dysplasia, but hers is mild, which is a workable condition for most dogs. Lilo and Clara both have allergies that seem to get worse as they age. Lilo has seborrhea, and Clara is prone to lick granulomas which are generally not life-threatening but are aesthetically unpleasant. Sheena has severe hip dysplasia and she has completely destroyed her canine teeth and incisors from cage biting. Both of these conditions will probably cause issues as she ages.
Sheena does have issues, but she’s a sweet dog.
The sad truth of having dogs is that they age a lot faster than we do. I love senior dogs as they are usually a lot more laid back than their younger counterparts and they are confident in their routines. I was thrilled to take Heidi in at the age of 9- partially because we had just lost Kayla, but also because I enjoy senior dogs and their mellowness. I was thankful that Heidi had a good three years with us, but it broke my heart to see her go at the relatively young age of 12.
Heidi was always grateful for everything.
I can take Clara anywhere. She and I have an understanding which is hard to describe, but I know I have a deeper appreciation for her and her gentle, intuitive nature, especially after she was hit by a truck and almost killed two and a half years ago.
When Clara had the stitches- and the seroma- after she was hit by a truck, she had to wear t-shirts to keep from messing with it. She was not amused.
Lilo is also very mellow and easy to handle, especially for a dreaded “Chow mix,” but that mellowness has taken years to cultivate. Sheena (about 4 years old now) is not as confident or as obedient as the other two are now. But Clara had a lot of “puppiness” to her when I got her as a thin and somewhat spooked two year old, and Lilo had her special little “Chowtude” and didn’t want to trust anyone when she first came to us. Kayla scared her, and Clara just wanted to kick her ass.
Lilo is strange in one regard- she actually enjoys wearing clothes.
Perhaps it’s a bit twisted that I hold my dogs in higher esteem than most people, but at the end of the day- there they are.