Getting old is never easy. So far I have come to terms with my own aging process. It takes me a little longer to get going on some mornings and my knees and ankles tend to be a little stiff with my first few steps of the day and I am basically ok with that. I think I have a much harder time accepting my dogs getting older than myself. In the last year I have had to deal with my oldest dog, Dasher starting to show his age.
About a year ago Dasher started having feet issues causing some off and on lameness. A trip to the specialist revealed degenerative changes in his toes. After talking with our vets, I decided I would retire Dasher from agility in hopes to slow down the progression of his feet. There was no reversing what has happened and eventually I would have to treat this with meds. All of my dogs are on glucosamine and MSM from day one at my house but eventually we knew Dasher would need something stronger. Dasher was not quite 8 years old when this was discovered. Far too young for this to have happened but these were the cards we were dealt. 2012 Cynosport in Denver turned out to be Dasher’s last Nationals. The funny thing is that at the 2011 Cynosport I never would have believed that he would only have one more Nationals left in his career. Crazy how things can change so dramatically in such a short time.
I think the hardest thing about Dasher getting older and deciding to retire him was trying to explain it to Dasher. He was certainly not ready for retirement. He had as much energy and drive as he always had but now he had no outlet for this energy. After giving him several months off we started playing a bit in the yard. No more ball throwing, which is his favorite pastime, but we still managed to have fun in the yard playing other games. Mainly “brain games”, tricks which required Dasher to use his head, almost as tiring as doing agility. His feet held up great and we progressed to doing a few jumps. It is now over a year since we first discovered his issues and I am able to enter Dasher in the occasional jumpers class. However I am much more selective on footing than I have been in the past. No packed dirt arenas for us. Only artificial turf, grass or soft dirt for Dasher. I also usually enter him in one class a day. I have also invested in a cold laser therapy machine so I can administer laser therapy to his feet. I am grateful that Dasher is currently comfortable each day and is also able to enjoy a bit of agility. Going to trials without him would not be the same. I know there will probably come a day when Dasher will be completely retired from agility. Right now we take it day by day and hopefully we both will be growing old gracefully.
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