Growing Old(er) Together with Lila

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brown and tan dog laying in hula hoop on grass and looking at the camera

My dog, Lila, is now 11 years old. About a year or so ago, I started noticing little signs of her aging. When I began to notice that Lila just wasn’t as much herself as she used to be, it was hard to put my finger on exactly what it was that was changing. The only way I can describe it is that she’s just not as Lila as she used to be.  So, I have started thinking about how to care for her as a senior dog. I feel a great responsibility to take care of her as she enters her golden years. I was nobly marching along taking care of my senior dog, when bam! out of nowhere it happened. I came face-to-face with an emergency surgery and that fact that I am growing older together with Lila. We are both taking care of each other along this journey (as I’m learning how to spend most of my days the past two weeks like an overturned turtle laying on the couch- and not by choice!) and now I’m even more focused on taking care of her as she ages.

Last week, I shared Lila’s story and how we’ve learned so many life lessons with my fun-loving dog. She’s always had endless energy and curiosity. Lila sees life as one big party and adventure. 

collage of photos of brown and tan dog with different toys, two of them torn up in little pieces

Lila’s days are filled with lots of joy. She lives life to the fullest and searches for new ways to enjoy life.

young child riding kike with black backpack and dog on leash

Lila makes sure a big part of every day involves playing with and supervising her kids. She thinks of them as her kids and keeps a close eye on all that they do. She even gets bossy with them if she thinks they’re roughhousing too much and makes them stop.

brown and tan dog laying on grass looking at tan dog sitting up and looking at the first dog

It’s a great day is when she gets to play with her friend, Diesel. They’re always excited to see each other and tear around the neighborhood chasing each other. Lila tries to boss Diesel around, too, but he doesn’t listen to her as well as her kids do.

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that Lila has started feeling her age. She just isn’t as Lila as she used to be. She enjoys the same things she always has, she just doesn’t do them as Lila as she used to. I have begun taking my role as her senior dog caretaker very seriously. 

brown and tan dog with annoyed expression laying on grey tile floor next to black bag of dog food and silver bowl of dog food

With taking care of my senior dog in mind, I jumped at the opportunity to have Lila try Purina ProPlan Bright Mind dog food. We took a trip (in Lila’s view an adventure) to PetSmart to pick up a bag for her and she was eager to give it a try. Lucky for you, if you spend $10 on any Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog or Cat Food* at PetSmart between August 31st and October 4th, you can save $10 on your next Purina Pro Plan Dry Food purchase of a 14-lb. bag or larger, on or before November 1st.  (*Subject to availability. Transaction total is after discounts and before taxes.)  According to experts at Purina Pro Plan, around age seven, the glucose metabolism in a dog’s brain begins to change, which can affect memory, learning, awareness or decision making. Purina Pro Plan discovered a way to promote alertness and mental sharpness in dogs 7+ through nutrition and has introduced BRIGHT MIND Adult 7+ formulas.  I was most interested to learn that when added to the daily diet of dogs 7+ years old, formulas that contained enhanced botanical oils promoted memory, attention and trainability.

(Can you tell how disgruntled Lila is that I’m making her wait to eat while I took her photo? Just look at her expression. She’s only tolerating the wait because I was the one that asked.) Lucky for me, Lila loved her Purina ProPlan Bright Mind dog food, because little did I know I was going to need her at her best a couple of weeks after she started eating it. 

I was happily tootling along thinking that it was my role to take care of Lila as she grew old(er) (we’re not willing to call ourselves “old” yet) when kaboom! it happened. I came face-to-face with the fact that I’m getting older, too. Two weeks ago, I had an emergency appendectomy that was the most complicated the surgeon had seen all year (yea, me). I spent five very long days in the hospital and joyously returned home hunched over and shuffling. That’s when I really noticed that Lila had become more Lila again as she started taking care of me. I had noticed an improvement in her focus between the time she stared on Purina ProPlan Bright Mind and my surgery, but it became much more evident when I was not at my best and Lila stepped up to be her best.

Over the past two weeks, her days have been less about what she would like to do and more about what she sees needs to be done.

brown and tan dog laying on stairs with bone between paws and looking at the camera

She watches over the house as I lay on my back like an overturned turtle on the couch when everyone has gone to school and work.

brown and tan dog laying next to white kitchen table and looking at the camera

She watches over the kids when they come home from school and sits at the table with them as they do their homework (and I continue to lay on the couch like an overturned turtle).

brown and tan dog laying down on light tan dog and leaning against brown table

I feel most vulnerable when I sleep (like an overturned turtle) and Lila must understand. She lays right next to me the entire time I’m asleep. She rests but doesn’t sleep while I’m sleeping. Not only is she keeping me safe, she’s making me feel comfortable enough to sleep as long as I need to. 

gif of a brown and tan dog winking

All along I had thought that it was my role to be the care taker of a senior dog, but Lila has taught me these past couple of weeks that really, I’m growing older together with Lila. I feel very fortunate to share this time together with her as we each take care of each other.

What’s your day like with your dog as you are growing older together?

You’ve just gotta see Lila being more Lila and showing off her tricks (which are impressive, if I do say so myself!).

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14 Comments

  1. Lila is so cute! Pet’s are family and older dogs are one of my causes. I only adopt older dogs. Gracie was 8 to 10 when I got her and we had almost 4 years together. She was the best! Now we have Bella, she was 6 when we got her but you would never know it. What a dynamo. They each have their own personality, just like us.

  2. Susan, what a great story. I think we often think we are taking care of our pets and then when we are laying on our backs like a turtle, we realize they take care of us. Your puppy is really a big part of your family and she deserves a great dog food.

  3. You can almost see Lila’s lip curled up in the photo where you are making her wait for her food! She’s so well behaved, and it’s so cute that she had been taking care of you these past few weeks. Give her an extra treat tonight for that! #client

  4. I’m an animal lovers, and this post has touched me deeply.
    Our pets are like children but they never grow to be independent, so it’s our responsibility to take good care of the through out their lives.
    Our cat is around Lilo’s age and as you, I see the changes. It’s not easy to admit that they’re getting old…..

    1. That you’re a fellow animal lover is just another reason I like you, Winnie. I agree with you that we have a responsibility to care for animals and the earth. I’m so thankful Lila feels a mutual responsibility to take care of me.

  5. Susan I enjoyed hearing about Lila, seeing her pictures! I had a lab mix for 12 years. I found him at the entrance to our neighborhood. Buster was just 3 months old when I took him into our home. We had 12 wonderful years with him. We have a husky Alf that is 11 this month, and a shelter dog a coonhound tree walker mix Mia that is 12. Senior dogs are the best. They are wonderful too. Buster would give you a “five” when you would ask him and we would givehim a treat. Alf will automatically untangle his leg when we walk. All I have to say is lift your leg Alf!

    1. We’re kindred souls, Cindy. Sounds like your dogs are as much a part of your family as Lila is of ours and sounds like they’re just as smart as my Lila is. High five to you and Buster from Lila and me. Take care of each other.

  6. Dogs take a hold of your heart. We lost our sweet KC a few years ago, and she was 18.5 years old. A Rott/Shepherd/Lab mix and our first child. It’s amazing how close you can get to them. Our new dog Buddy is almost 7 now and was about the only one that KC ever approved of. Probably letting us know it was almost her time and that he would fit in well. Love your story!

    1. I can tell you understand, Jamie. I’m sorry for your loss (I still miss my first baby dog and it’s been 15 years). We’re so fortunate to have had our dogs in our lives.

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