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Soro's getting noticeably older. I find it so interesting that dogs, like people, decline in different ways. Soro is 12+ years old and still has iron bowels, choosing to hold it for 10-12 hours and even declining a middle-of-the-day potty break when my partner offers it. He is still mentally all there and still loves complex tricks like stacking rings. I can tell he still has his vision because he can still follow hand signals from 50 feet away. I can tell he can still hear perfectly well. He still moves very well at a trot on our normal walks. However, physically he has drastically declined in the last year.

Here's a sad example. Last night, I was playing ball with Brae and these days I just let Sor sniff to his heart's content (now that mushroom season is over) which is what he really wants to do when we're outside. But last night Sor came over and looked up at me with 'the look' - really bright eyed and really wanting to go after the ball. So I did a really light toss and carefully under-handed the ball 15 feet away. I really tried to make it as slow and easy as possible. But Soro is still a puppy in his mind, so he tore after it with a very bouncy gait and got the ball as enthusiastically as he could. Like, he didn't need to attack the un-moving ball 15' away but he wanted to. Well, his body doesn't allow that anymore and he toppled with his momentum and yelped because his elbows are stiff. Then the poor fella just stood there looking pitiful. I felt bad so I did a super easy right-in-front-of-him toss and let him get the ball and bring it to me a couple times.

With Brae, it's quite amazing how their relationship has developed. These days (and it took over a year) Sor let's Brae pretty much roll onto him and doesn't bat an eye. Every now and then I'll find them on beds next to each other, leaning against each other 'by accident', or even having their faces next to each other while we are snuggling both dogs at once. No issues and no growls! But I've stopped having Brae and Soro play since Brae is just too strong for him. Soro is all heart and he WANTS to keep doing all of these things. And I really am limiting him for his own good. But it breaks my heart to think that he still wants to go after balls sometimes and that I can't toss a ball for him every now and then.

He still loves tug and occasionally we play easy tug games with really light toys. So there's that :)

I guess I don't talk about Soro much anymore because I really am letting him retire. He gets neighborhood walks. He can still do 5 miles flat, but he's really tuckered out afterwards so we don't do much of that. He still helps out with the kid's camp and does nosework and tricks. He still gets up at the drop of a hat, no struggle or hesitation, to 'defend' the house when the mailman comes. He is such an amazing dog. But honest to myself, he's getting real old. It's not easy to admit and I do not look forward to the day that I post in the Memorial section. But this is why I have Brae. And I still am enjoying old-Soro in many ways. I just wish I could tell him to take it easy sometimes, or I wish he understood he can't behave the same way he did 2 years ago.
 

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I think the best you can really do is treat it as a routine change and introduce it on that level. It's hard. It sucks. But mostly for the human, I think, though routine changes and dogs are never entirely easy. He'll figure out the new routine, though, as you do.

And just all the love. Aging is hard to grapple with, and just all around heartbreaking.
 

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Oh yeah, Soro gets tons of love! He gets his own special cuddle times before bed and Brae's not allowed in the bedroom where he is. My partner will sometimes buy him a can of cat food and just give it to him :D

I mean, he's not on his death bed right now. I just always remember him for who he was, as well as appreciate who he is now. It is such a privilege but also bittersweet to have a dog for 12 years...
 

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Same with Questa although she is 8 she is aging fast. With all the cancer and other issues in the show lines, I am lucky to have had her as healthy as she is this long.

She still wants to ride in the truck or car and wants to go places but I know when she gets there she is sorry.. and doesn't want to BE places. So I take her with me and take her out for a few minutes and put her back in (when it is cool out of course!!). Sometimes it is just a ride (like to the post office).

I throw the ball shorter. I let her win when she doesn't want to "out" for another throw. She is the house dog and a big cat toy (really). I keep all my dogs separated and she does not want to be with the other dogs at all (I have tried). She just stands there with that "make them stop and go away!" look on her face. I let her spend quite a lot of time "shedding on the rugs..."

Dogs live in the moment. They only know here n now. We see the future. The dogs don't. We would be so much better off if we acted like/thought like the dogs.
 

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Soro is doing so well for his age! I've already noticed Pepper aging and she's not even 6 yet. She's slower on walks, she's a bit stiff when she gets up after a long nap, she doesn't always get up to greet us when we get home from work. Sometimes I wonder if something's wrong with her or if she's just settling into her age. I've never had a dog from beginning to end before. I've also noticed she tires out way easier - even just since last summer. She used to be able to go all day on the beach running and swimming and playing. Now she loses interest after just a couple of hours.

I can't throw a ball for my dogs in the house. They both go after it with such speed and enthusiasm they've actually hurt each other before by accident. We have to be outside with lots of space, then it's okay.
 

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I agree, he is doing amazingly well for his age and his genetics (rottie, golden retriever). He still moves very well overall too. The chiropractor was impressed. I definitely have a soft spot for senior dogs now that I have one. It's funny... When he was 8 or 9 I didn't think of him as a senior. He actually seemed like he was in his prime and would do 8 mile cross country ski trips with me with no issues at all. I still had to think about how to tire him out each day. I think Soro has been his most senior self in the last 2 years.
 

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Hey, don't count Soro out yet. ;-) If he has no significant issues, he may still be 'competitive' for 4 - 5 more years! His hearing may be OK, if he doesn't normally get allergies or ear infections. His vision may decline, but his ability to see motion can continue to the end. And, if you accommodate his physical abilities, he'll be able to learn new things (and pick up 'tricks' that you don't want ;-) ) for as long as you allow it.

Yes, he will slow down, but consider that rather than be tired, he might be getting 'over-heated'. Senior dogs can't cool off as quickly, so summer heat may be a little more difficult, but when fall/winter comes, the cooler weather can inject a burst of energy.

I agree with not letting Soro and Brae roughhouse, b/c if Soro is getting stiff, he may growl at Brae for hurting him. On the other hand, if Soro doesn't have arthritis, etc., and is just a little slower, Brae may be able to learn to self-handicap and play appropriately ... like he may do with cats and smaller dogs ???
 

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Sounds like Soro is doing great! My Dahlia is 12ish now (maybe closer to 13, but we have never actually known her age). She was always a slow, mellow dog without a lot of drive. Now she's even slower and more mellow (sometimes I have to check to make sure she's still alive she sleeps so hard!).

In some ways I feel jealous that you have to tell him to slow down. I have to try to get her to DO things. She does still run to the back of the yard to yell at the dogs in the yard behind us. And I'm happy she does that much at least. But stairs are tough (I sleep downstairs with her as she no longer will even try to go up) and she's fecally incontinent at times and has been for the past year (some of that is probably due to muscle loss after vestibular disease made it harder for her to get around).
 

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@crysania - Next time you are at the Vet, ask them to check for nerve degeneration in the rear. Stiffness and problems with stair mobility can be due to arthritis or nerve problems (or both). Arthritis may be painful, while nerve damage may be comparatively painless [or the opposite in both cases]. If there are nerve issues involved, then low-dose gabapentin may help out, probably for the rest of her life. Nerve damage may contribute to Incontinence ... and gabapentin may improve things temporarily. Or nerve degeneration may not be an issue.
 

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@crysania - Next time you are at the Vet, ask them to check for nerve degeneration in the rear. Stiffness and problems with stair mobility can be due to arthritis or nerve problems (or both). Arthritis may be painful, while nerve damage may be comparatively painless [or the opposite in both cases]. If there are nerve issues involved, then low-dose gabapentin may help out, probably for the rest of her life. Nerve damage may contribute to Incontinence ... and gabapentin may improve things temporarily. Or nerve degeneration may not be an issue.
We've already been to the vet about it and they could find nothing wrong. No sign of nerve problems (no knuckling over, dragging of back legs or the like; and the fecal incontinence happened before she had any trouble with stairs and my understanding is that's usually toward the end of the disease) and she didn't even think she was in much pain, if any. She has really good extension in the rear and is only just starting to lose some of that. She's not really stiff and gets up from laying down fine. She's on Dasequin to help support her joints, but that was all the vet recommended at this point.

She just lost a LOT of muscle tone after she got hit with vestibular disease. Sitting became awkward during that time because she'd fall over when she tried. And she's still a little unbalanced at times after that. And part of it is probably my fault...I stopped making her do things that would have kept up the muscle tone on her back end because she was nervous to do it. So she stopped doing all the things that gave her a good strong backend (no more agility, no more sitting, etc.). The vet says there's just little muscle back there at this point.

I'm still not 100% sure the stairs were a physical issue or confidence. She fell down the stairs last November, which wasn't because she physically had issues with going up them prior to that. She heard me open a bag of treats and tried to turn around on the stairs. They're pretty narrow and she's never been a dog that can turn tightly. And her front foot missed a step and down she went. I saw it happen and tried to get across the room to catch her before she fell, but no such luck. She was fine. No injuries. But after that she got a bit more hesitant and then refused to go up them. Before that she would have to work her way up with a bit of a "running start" but could do it. Now? We don't even bother. She's an old lady and can make that choice. So even more things taken away to build up her back end! Maybe she needs a protein shake and some weight training. lol
 

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Yeah, my old girl is at least sixteen (but probably seventeen) and she regularly overdoes it, then is achy the next day. She's a busy, high energy dog even now - she probably gets three times as many steps in daily as my other dog that's half her age. It's hard to restrict her.

She's always been the picture of health, so this last six months (she started having seizures, and has had a few episodes of really bad digestive upset and a UTI) have been hard on her, and she's starting to lose strength/coordination in back legs. Its so sad - I don't think she has very long - but I have to remind myself that most people don't get this long with their dogs, let alone this many good years.
 
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