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Learn how to age gracefully by watching your dog

By Al Winzerling

Senior dogs don’t seem to whine, complain or tell us about their aches and pains, so it’s helpful to know what signs to watch for.

Here are some of the more obvious ones: hearing loss, vision loss, slowing down, not as quick to respond to commands, frequent bathroom breaks or accidents, weight gain, loss of appetite, lumps or abnormal growths, skin/coat deterioration and bad breath. These things usually happen slowly over time and may not be as noticeable, or they can appear overnight. One thing that is certain is all of these signs of aging appear in human beings, just in a different time frame than in our beloved four-legged companions.

While these are all normal signs of aging, how we deal with them may not be at all similar. For example, when is the last time you heard your dog complain? And what about the older generation of humans, including me? It is easy to get caught up in comparing age-related problems. “My wart is bigger than yours,” “My hearing is worse than yours,” “What’s that you say?” “I have to make another trip to the rest room,” and many more.

Our dogs seem to take all of these aging quirks in stride and carry on just in a more modified, rational, measured manner. They don’t seem to mind asking for help to perform certain tasks. Likewise, we have to be able to deal with our canine’s aging much the same as we will have to deal with ours. We may not be able to walk as far or as fast as we used to, but we still enjoy getting out for a stroll. It may be harder to get in and out of our vehicle, just as my older dog now needs a boost to get up in our car, but once they’re in, they still enjoy the ride.

What can we learn about aging from our canine companions? Acceptance, humility and a good attitude. After all, we are in the same boat or dog house. We can also choose to decline the experience and act like the human beings we are. Or we can observe our dogs for insight, provide loyalty and move forward with a dog-like attitude.

Al Winzerling is an LPCHS Board member. Reach him at winzerling@msn.com.