We all know that caring for an aging dog is the same as caring for an aging adult. Infact, it is sometimes more difficult. Pet parents play an important role and often struggle with their pets’ dementia and incontinence, as well as navigating through the maze of end-of-life care decisions. The struggle is real, and I am going through it right now.
As Junior turned 10 years old, I was happy that he reached that age, but at the same time, I started a new journey as a parent of a senior dog. I have seen him slow down ever since and his fragile body is more prone to illnesses than ever. Besides the illness, his recovery has become very slow.
A natural aging process that we are all aware of; still we live in constant fear that anything bad will happen to our dogs which will be irreparable.
There are tons of articles and posts available on the internet regarding caring for aging or old dogs. So I will not waste any time in explaining those. As we are all responsible pet parents and we only want the best for our dogs, but I will definitely share 1 tip or advice with you’ll that Junior’s vet shared with me to ease my mind.
Being the over thinker that I am, I take Junior to the vet immediately if I notice even a slight change in his behaviour or physical appearance. My vet knows my nature very well and made me sit down and explained to me that it is not advisable to keep making Junior travel to the clinic every now and then.
He continued saying that he understands my worry and concerns about Junior’s health and asked me to open my ears wide and listen to the advice he was going to give next.
“Only worry when an old dog suddenly looses weight”.
Yes, there are many other illnesses an old dog can have, but his basic advice was, if your dog is relatively ok, then don’t bother about little changes in your dog. Only worry when the dog has suddenly lost 4-5 kgs or more weight in a month. That’s the major sign vets see in old dogs to know if the dog is seriously ill.
After listening to this, my worries actually disappeared. I have stopped bothering about Junior skipping a meal, or throwing up once a while, or not pooping the entire day, etc. These little things have always bothered me because I feel there is some underlying issue always.
Isn’t it funny, such basic advice yet I have been unaware of it for so long. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us and we keep looking for it all over the internet or ask friends for advice or just jump from one vet to another.
I hope this 1 single advice brings relief to your anxious minds like how it bought to mine. Put your dogs on right supplements and food, moderate exercise and lots of love. Their old age will be as comfortable as it can be.
“Do not go gentle into the good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” An amazing poem by Dylan Thomas which speaks about those who actually live out their lives will better see how life has been bright for them, before going towards the sleep of death. It emphasis that older men should fight fiercely and strongly against death.
I fell in love with this poem ever since I read it. But the message I want to portray here is that if you resist something, you give it power fueled by your own fear of it. Fear is a darker lower vibrational emotion; but, if that is what is keeping you from your happiness or freedom, then that is where the answers will be found – go into the good night.
By nature, I fear and panic a lot when something goes wrong even in the slightest manner. I put my life on hold till the problem is solved. But this is not how it should be. Being an over thinker, I put myself in such a bad position, that even my body falls ill; which in turn makes me go into hermit mode.
We fear failure, rejection, embarrassment, disappointment, etc. This hampers our daily growth, and, achieving our goals and dreams. I always find it hard to believe when each and every one around me tells me that I am a very confident girl or I am a very strong girl or I am fearless. Needless to say, no one knows the amount of fear I hold within me. When there is some random noise in the house, I fear that the ceiling will fall down. Where there is a short circuit happening 10 apartments away, I fear there will be a blast, and, how I will save Junior. When it is thundering, I feel the lightening will strike my building and we all will burn down. All these are silly things, but they hamper my daily activities, which in turn hinders my growth.
I am working on myself daily. It is a day-to-day struggle. There are times when life throws one blow over the other at me, but I still keep going. Because it is better to fight it out than to live life in fear. When I will be on my death bed, I want to be proud of myself and die peacefully knowing that I didn’t let myself down at any moment in life.
But you know what else keeps me going? My dogs. Yes, had they not been my motive to live, I would have fallen into depression long before. I know I have spoken about this many times. But today, it is a little different. Fear is a natural, powerful, and, primitive human emotion. Sometimes fear stems from real threats, but it can also originate from imagined dangers. Like the ones I face. Look at the irony, I never get scared of real threats, but I fear my imaginations. And this type of fear is more dangerous, because imaginations have no limits.
How my dogs have helped me? They divert my mind. Since my fears are imaginative, diverting my mind helps me calm down. Junior would randomly come to me looking with puppy eyes, and I will get up and start playing with him. When I lie down in bed, and I have no control over my thoughts, Casper and Junior would snore loudly, dream, move and fart, and mind is just diverted in a fraction of a second. My dogs are extremely important to me as I live alone. This wouldn’t have been the case if I would be living with my family.
Fear is unavoidable, and, when I have excess anxiety, my body and brain starts shutting down. This is one of the cons of living alone. Your mind starts playing tricks where you get consumed by it and fear the unknown. I stupefy when my friends tell me that it’s so amazing that I live alone. But as I always say, the grass is not green on the other side. And again, if it hadn’t been for my dogs, I would have not survived alone.
Today, I would like to share only two tips to help anyone suffering from imaginative fear like me. And that is, DO NOT resist it, and, celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Also, do not get confused between intuition and fear. Sometimes, it is our gut feeling telling us that something is genuinely wrong. Other times, it is just your imagination. Learn to differentiate by finding the core of it. But please, do not try to resist your fearful emotions. Let it come; Let it flow freely. Feel every ounce of it. Remind yourself that your anxiety is a store house of wisdom.
Many a times, imaginary fears are an outcome of old traumas. For me, this is absolutely true. And I know those traumas very well. Fortunately, I now know how to deal with them, but I am still working on the side effects that were left on me and that is the imaginary fears.
I now do not resist my fears. I feel it when it starts. And then I snap myself out of it by appreciating my courage. Till date, I have survived and thrived 100% of my bad days. Every time I don’t allow fear to keep me from doing something that scares me, I am making myself stronger and less likely to let the next fear attack stop me.
Start encouraging yourself by converting the outcome of fear into a positive thought. Transform all your fears into empowering visions of success. Take action in the face of fear. Be realistic. And celebrate every success. Make it a habit to celebrate than to sulk. Went one day without smoking, celebrate. Followed your diet for a week, celebrate. Received your degree, celebrate. Rejoice every good thing and make it a habit. So that when you have your next anxiety attack, you have more things to celebrate or be grateful about than to drown deep into fear. Small celebrations will one day lead you to the top of the mountain and shine. And then when you look back, you will realize that all the fears were nothing in front of your courage.
Remember, Fear is what MIGHT happen – not what WILL happen.
Palpitations, want to cry but cannot, excess urination, fear of something might go wrong or something bad is going to happen, uneasiness, etc. Sounds familiar?
I am not an expert or a doctor. Neither do I know any big and scientific words. So today I am going to explain to you my anxiety problem in the rawest language and how I deal with it.
First let us understand the difference between depression and anxiety. Depression is when you live in the past, and, recall the bad times, and, cannot get over it. Anxiety is when you want all your answers today or you want to figure out the answers to your thoughts right away but are unable to reach a decisive conclusion. The fear of the unknown is what causes anxiety!
I suffer from overthinking which leads to anxiety. I am not on any medications right now, but if the need be, I will not hesitate to take professional or medical help.
So, here is how I go through the episodes of my anxiety, or in simpler words – Panic Attacks and tips on how I deal with it.
Starts in the evening
Every time I am about to get a panic attack or just an anxiety chapter, I start feeling uneasy from around 5pm or 6pm in the evening. I get this gut feeling that I am overthinking something and am going to get a panic attack soon, or maybe just have a bad evening and I need to stable myself from now. The moment I realize this, I finish all my work at the earliest to ground myself and let my emotions flow.
It is normally something that triggers me. For example, if I came across an animal abuse video or an article of a sudden death or the latest – coronavirus death, etc. To be honest, I do not get triggered easily; I have a very strong mind and will power, but if it is the wrong day, I will pretty much get triggered by anything. This will lead to excessive worrying about that situation. Sometimes when I do not know what has triggered me, I will worry so much that my mind will reach the year 2050 and think what I will be doing that time!
Restlessness and irritability (feeling detached to things)
I become extremely restless. I will pace around the whole house, keep checking Junior if he is alright even though I know he is fine. I will keep changing the TV channels or would just do some random work or start cleaning the house. Cleaning the house helps me in staying calm. In this time if someone calls, then I unfortunately end up removing all my frustration on that person. I always avoid meeting people or talking over the phone till I am blue in the face. It will invariably lead to a fight.
Difficulty in breathing. Headaches, pain in the chest, neck, and shoulders
Due to overthinking or a triggered situation, I start panicking which leads to difficulty in breathing and results in excessive pain in the chest, neck, and shoulders. Sometimes, it feels like getting a heart attack and I will not make through the situation alive.
Fear and going radio silent
This is my worse and biggest symptom. I start fearing the unknown. Even if I know the reason of my anxiety, I will still fear that something bad is going to happen. One by one, I will start over thinking about all the situations in my life which will lead to impossible thoughts and an unknown fear of what if it never gets better. I also feel I am bringing everyone else down with my anxiety. So, I resist from sharing my problems with others.
Not always do I reach this stage, but when I do, I feel I will not survive the night. I normally get panic attacks in the night only. There is an unknown fear. They last till I fall asleep after crying my eyes out. My heartbeats are super-fast, I have frequent urination, I am crying nonstop and worrying about something that has not happened yet and may not even happen. I have difficulty to control my thoughts at this stage and my hands and feet become cold and start paining.
Being a strong-minded girl; the frequency of my panic attacks is very low. This was not the case earlier. Earlier I used to get panic attacks every week. Now I may get once in 6 months.
This is how I feel and what I go through when I have one of those bad days. I have never got any thoughts of suicide. But once I get back to normal, I feel very guilty of ignoring Junior during that period. But you know what the best thing is. Dogs are so smart that they understand when you are not feeling well. When Junior realizes that his Mumma is not doing well, he will reach his favourite spot, lie down and constantly stare at me or he will come and sleep on my lap. That sweet little boy will never trouble me during that time. By trouble means, will not keep patting my shoulders for treats or bark or run around. In a way, I can proudly say that till this day if I have not gone mad, is only because of Casper and Junior.
There is one trick I have learnt how to deal with my anxiety. The trick is, SELF LOVE. I know it sounds familiar and heard a lot of times. But SELF LOVE is the best medicine for all times. Whenever you are feeling anxious, let your feelings flow. Do not resist your feelings or forcefully think positive thoughts. Never trust everything your mind says. Because only 10% of the things happen of what we have thought. Sometimes, even that does not happen. Everyone has their own struggles and battles. You do not have to put on a front to make others comfortable or happy. Depression or Anxiety comes from a place of self-doubt which was a result of rejection or abuse or cheating or death or or or………. The list can go on. But if you practice SELF LOVE every day, you will get through this with ease. Keep telling yourself that you are a good person, you have not done anything bad to anyone, so nothing bad will happen to you. You are beautiful/handsome. No matter what, GET UP, DRESS UP AND SHOW UP. Dress up tidy every day. Do your nails, get a haircut, treat yourself with a lavish dinner occasionally, exercise, and play with your children or dogs. In short, purposely stay happy. Soon it will become a habit. Remember, no one comes to save us. We must save ourselves. Our happiness is in our hands.
My anxiety started when my first boyfriend (before marriage) cheated on me. I was young that time and I did not know what a panic attack was. But I constantly kept getting it and named it “breathing problem”. But yes, we have deep wounds which are not healed, or they keep repeating, like in my case, whoever I dated or married, I was left for someone else. So, I never got a chance to heal my wounds. And was labeled as an over thinker. But now I don’t give a piece of shit for others, for I have Junior and what more can you ask when you have someone who loves you unconditionally and the most loyal creature on this planet. Walking him, playing with him, feeding him, and doing everything that is required for him is making me stronger every passing day both physically and mentally. Casper and Junior are God sent to me. Had it not been for them, I would not be here writing this blog.
Brining up a dog is no different than brining up child. The efforts that go into both are the same. Just like how no 2 children are the same, similarly, no 2 dogs are the same either. Every dog has its unique characteristic traits and learning habit, but the essential personality characteristics of the dogs are universal. I am no expert, and, am still learning every day. I would like to share my experience with Casper and Junior and bring light to the mistakes I made in the beginning when I got Casper home. I hope this helps to anyone out there, and makes it a little easy and pre hand knowledge for first time dog parents.
As mentioned in my previous posts, I was extremely scared of dogs and accidentally I became a dog mom. Having no knowledge about the handling of dogs, I took each day as it came facing a new challenge and overcoming it. Most important, I was well versed when Junior came into the picture and it was a piece of cake to then look after him.
Choose the breed of dog you want to bring home. Do your research or ask for advice from a vet or shelter employees. I would always suggest adopting a dog and giving a pure soul a home and family
Be firm and prepared as the dog will spend around 15 years of his life with you’ll. See to it that everyone in the house agrees to have a dog. No one is allergic. Space, time and money also to be taken into consideration. Who will take care of the dog when you are away? Will future changes affect your dog like moving to a different state or country, getting married, having a baby, etc.
Set the rules pre hand as to allowing him/her on the bed or in the kitchen, etc.
Keep a collar and leash ready
Since I do not believe in keeping dogs in crates, I never bought one. But if you intend to do so, invest in a size bigger as per the size of the dog to ensure he/she is comfortable
Food and Water bowls should be ready. They should be given high quality food and fresh drinking water at all times. Do not begin with raw home food
Once you get your dog, the first thing to do should be to take him/her to the vet for suggested food and vaccinations
Normally, till 3 months and till all the vaccinations are done, puppies shouldn’t be taken out of the house to protect them from diseases like Parvo, Distemper, Tick Fever, etc.
Puppies tend to sleep for 16-18 hours a day. So do not force play with them
Start training them for House and obedience. There are various ways to train them. Either hire a professional dog trainer or see some YouTube Videos. But start at the earliest and establish a schedule
When they are young, they have a lot of energy and will be teething. They will also chew on things like shoes, remote controls, wires, clothes, etc. Keep all these away from them and instead give them chewys. But make sure to keep a check on them so that they do choke on it
Ask your vet for over the counter medicines to keep at home in case of emergencies
NEVER get choke collars. I repeat, NEVER
Till they are trained, a regular collar is advisable. You can shift to a harness later
Take them for enough walks or play with them to burn their energy
Dog do not understand guilt; as shown in many Instagram Videos or YouTube Videos. They just get scared of loud noises. They feel sad. Never shout at them, but correct them by rolling a newspaper and snapping it on some surface to just make a little noise if the dog does something that he/she shouldn’t
In the initial days, never leave them without a leash in public places unless the recall command is strong
Bring some safe toys for your dog
Always keep your Vet’s number handy
Do not ignore the dog. This may create a lot of issues. Your dog may develop separation anxiety or biting problem or anger issues
Get his nails cut and ears cleaned timely
Any signs of abnormality, contact the vet immediately
Do not feed them heavy meals before a car ride or a day at the beach or park
Keep a good boarding/lodging or day care in sight to keep your dog incase everyone in the house is going out or you are a single parent and have to go to work
Most important, BE PATIENT!
There may be many things to keep in mind, but as you take each day, you will learn on your own. All the above may sound scary, but trust me, they are not. And compared to the love and happiness these dogs bring in our lives, no matter how much we do for them is never enough. As a first-time dog owner, this may have been a lot to take in one go. However, being equipped and more informed should help direct you in a direction that will create a long-lasting relationship with your dog – you know the one you’ve always been dreaming of!
Few years ago, I contemplated with the idea of taking Caper and Junior to the beach for a photo-shoot. I was a little intimidated with the whole idea as I had never taken both of them out to the beach all alone. Hence, I requested my brother and cousin sister to come along, but, neither of them had any kind of experience with handling one dog, let alone 2 extremely hyper dogs! After weeks of planning to do a photo-shoot with my dogs and contemplating whether I could take them outdoors or no, we finally decided on a day and went on for it. Gladly, I didn’t cancel the plan out of fear of handling Casper and Junior alone in public, because after a few months, Caspu passed away.
It was a Sunday morning that we had finalized for the photoshoot. My cousin sister is actually a photographer and also a dog lover. She was the best of whom I could think of to capture our moments. My brother joined us to ensure we were safe, and, also helped take care of my dogs as he knew that Casper and Junior would take me for a complete ride, and it would be difficult for me to handle them alone.
The day came and 7.30am we reached the beach. The beach wasn’t much crowded, just a scattered few individual jogging or doing yoga. There were a few who had bought their dogs for walk. The weather wasn’t very hot as winters had already started. All in whole, it was extremely calm and serene and in fact a great day for photography. Within minutes of reaching the beach, both Casper and Junior went completely ballistic, and, started running like maniacs. I, to be honest, wasn’t exactly confounded by this behavior of their; Mumbai being a thickly and cramped city, we do not get any open space for the dogs to play around. And this was their first time at the beach. They were more than delighted.
It took me sometime to calm Casper and Junior down before we could actually start clicking pictures. For a safer side, I had made them wear a collar and a body belt. They were on a double leash and I had carried two separate leashes as well. Yes, I was paranoid……hahaha!
Once they were pacified, we started with the photoshoot. And to my marvel, Casper and Junior posed like Vogue Cover Page Models. An anxious morning turned into the most amazing morning of my life. The sound of the waves, the cool breeze, the crisp sand and two big calm dogs. I would have stayed there forever! My cousin could capture so many beautiful pictures that it was incredible.
After the photoshoot, I had become so confident that I even let Casper and Junior go into the water. And they were splashing water, digging in the sand and savoring like little babies. I believe, it was the best day of their lives too. They even played with other dogs there who had come for a walk. I had also taken a ball for them to play with. We stayed there for about an hour and a half as Casper and Junior were then exhausted. If anything in the world I would ask for to God, it will be to let me live that day again with my dogs. We sat in the car and reached home and I immediately took Casper and Junior for a bath. After bathing, they had their meal and slept right away like babies!
I am so thankful to my cousin to click these pictures for me which is a marvelous memory of lifetime and grateful to my brother to join for our safety.
You can checkout her excellent photography skills on Instagram (link below).
I would like to share some tips with you’ll if you are taking your dogs to the beach. Hope they are helpful.
If you notice your dog panting or vomiting or excessively drooling, abort immediately and take them to the Vet at the earliest. This could be due to overheating and they can collapse.
Bring plenty of fresh water for them and a water bowl and offer refills liberally.
Carry a toy like a ball or Frisbee.
Take breaks. Let them calm down and then play again.
Don’t let them too deep into the water. Carry a life jacket.
Never take puppies under 4 months to the beach.
If you have a hairless dog, consider making them wear a t-shirt.
Leave them off leash only if they have a solid grasp on the recall command. Carry a long leash instead. It gives them freedom of movement and won’t be out of your reach too.
Discourage your dog from drinking sea water.
Carry a big towel to put it on your car seat when returning home from the beach.
Give them a bath immediately after reaching home.
If it is a hot sunny day, protect his paw and be careful of the sun stroke.
And last but most important tip, click a loooooooooooooot of pictures. Always remember, the most memorable days usually end with the dirtiest clothes (yes, we do not mind dirtying our clothes for our dogs). Sometimes we will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. These memories are all I have of Casper and I will capture as many memories as I can of Junior. Because memories never fade and a picture is worth a thousand words. One day, our tears will dry, smiles will also fade, but these memories will always stay. So click as many pictures as you can, Cheers!