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Old 08-25-2009, 02:55 PM
janitz janitz is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
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Default very old dog - new behavior

I'll preface this by saying that my husband and I are fairly new dog owners - starting in May of last year. We have two younger dogs (14 and 11 months), and now a very old dog that we adopted in April of this year. We have no experience with how dogs age, so any help/advice on what to expect will be very welcome.

Let me tell you about this old dog, Bailey. She's a spayed German Shepherd (possibly with something else mixed in, though it isn't apparent), and is very likely around 15 years old. When we took her in a few months ago, it looked like she was near death. She couldn't move very well at all, couldn't clean herself (she had lived in a rural vehicle shop and was filthy with oil and grease), and would yelp any time anyone got within two feet of her. We took her to our vet, had her diagnosed with spinal degeneration, got her on medications and took her to a groomer to get her all cleaned up.

Within two weeks, the improvements she showed were amazing. She became very lively, she was able to lay down without whining, she stopped yelping when people moved around her, and she started being able to clean herself and move up and down the deck stairs with ease. When we take her outside, she bounces and runs - it's so amazing to see, given where she was less than half a year ago.

This last week however, things have gotten strange. She's still puppy-like when she goes outside, however it's gotten very difficult to actually get her to go out. She used to wait by the door with the other girls as we got ready, and now she doesn't. She won't come when my husband calls her, and she only does so reluctantly (and infrequently) when I do. I'm sure she can hear us - she does react to her name - but most of the time she turns and walks away. Nothing traumatic has happened that I can think of, she's acting normal (and eating/drinking) otherwise, so my thoughts turn to her age.

Given her age and previous care conditions, we understood from the start that she likely wouldn't have most than a year or so of life left in her, and so we're prepared to have her put to sleep if it does come to that. I'm just baffled and curious about this new behavior.

So, my query for you experienced dog owners - is this kind of behavior the sort of thing that can come with old age? Can I expect things to start worsening?
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Old 08-25-2009, 02:58 PM
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Zoom Zoom is offline
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Does she have to go down stairs at all to go out? Stairs are very hard on old joints, even if they seem like they can move normally on flat ground. Do you have her on glucosamine/chondroitan supplements? Those work wonders for joints!

I wouldn't rule out deafness, certain pitches will go first and those might be what you're calling her in. Or just take a step back in her training and "re-teach" her recall command.
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Old 08-25-2009, 03:14 PM
janitz janitz is offline
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Thanks for your reply!

She is on glucosamine and metacam (meloxicam), as well as a multi-vitamin mineral supplement (they've been amazing for her!).

She does have to go down stairs after exiting our front door - about 8, all at once. I will try taking her out the back door to see if she'd rather do that, as that series of steps is broken up in twos.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:33 PM
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smkie smkie is offline
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Posts: 55,054

Sounds like the problem to me too. I have arthritis and i avoid stairs as much as i can. Mary can do one or two but no more than that.

Go Petie Go Go Who Go!

love comes in many directions with mary

Side by side on the sofa sat three annoyed dogs and one smug cat
and then in came a little white kitten,
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