Most people receive their dogs as puppies and watch them grow into adulthood. They cherish every ride, bath, and walk taken with their pets. But how about the moments when the dogs are showing signs of nearing the end of his/her life?
Personally, I had to struggle with the realization that my German Shepard Mutt, Shadow, might not live longer years with my family anymore. My father brought him into our home on the summer that I was going to enter the second grade of elementary school. I remember because I had to do a art project on what we did that summer and I was so excited to make it about my new two years old dog. Now I’m in the summer of my sophomore year of college, reminiscing about the twelve years that my family and I spent with our dog prior to him passing away over a month ago. Boy, was he a trouble maker! Always escaping the backyard fence even at his old age just so he can mark his territory all over the neighborhood. But he was slowing down enough to notice that even though he had a free spirit, he couldn’t keep up with his antics much longer. Here are the signs I witnessed in my dog:
1. Increased Fatigue or Tiredness
Shadow would constantly lay down in several spots around the house. He had his private spaces where he would just walk around and nap. He would walk or stand for short moments, than lay down to not put so much energy in his legs. He seemed like he was going to tremble because of his shaking legs not being able to support him like they use to. My father even found him laying down in the middle of the street after he escaped the backyard.
2. Loss of Hearing
One afternoon, my father took me aside to ask if I noticed anything strange about Shadow. I said, No. But he persisted to tell me that there was something wrong. He tried to call him several times but he wouldn’t answer. Shadow only approached him because he could see him. He suspected that he had loss his hearing. After that, I decided to pet him in the back while he was resting. He looked at me, startled. Normally, he would know that I was approaching behind him but I realized that he can no longer hear my footsteps or voice.
3. Graying and Loss of Hair
By dog had a full mane of tan fair. He would leave his hair everywhere! My mother was so upset because she always had to clean it up. But overtime he started biting himself causing scars on his body and loss of hair follicles. His hair began to turn gray, even turning white. Like a human, he was showing his age.
4. Failed Reflexes or Coordination
Shadow loved human food. I would often tease him with my dinner. I would lift it high above his face in hope that he would jump for it. Overtime he started to stop trying, he was too tired. So, I would throw it at him so he can catch it in his mouth. In the last days the food fell on his face and he was too slow to react. He looked for it all over the floor but couldn’t see it so I had to feed him by hand.
5. Loss of Strength in Teeth
Shadow’s teeth began to appear smaller and was too weak to chew hard things. He didn’t have a strong bite any more and was satisfied in eating softer food.
So here are the signs that I witnessed in my dog prior to his passing. I hope you share your final moments with your dog in the comment section.