How about a senior dog for Christmas?

Senior Dogs Project

Many people think that older dogs are “set in their ways” and can’t adjust to a new environment, but that is simply not true.  Many senior dogs are more than able to adapt to a new home.  What people are really saying is that they themselves are not able to adapt to the idea of a senior dog – even though older dogs are generally calmer, housebroken, trained and aren’t impressed by a lot of things that freak younger dogs out.  For someone looking for a companion who enjoys leisurely walks and is content to relax most of the day, a senior Shiba is a lot better bet than a freakazoid 1 year old whose main ambitions are to chew through the living room wall.

Current list of senior Shibas and Shiba mixes that need homes

(The above is based on my location, so you might have to re-enter the information to get a list closer to home)

Shibas can live beyond 16 and there are plenty of dogs out there that need homes and are beyond the age that most dogs are easily adopted by.  A training class and a regular schedule can speedily adapt a senior dog to a new lifestyle.  This is a great idea to put into the heads of friends and family who are considering a new dog.

How Long do Shibas Live?

shassWatching Shassi spiral down to the end of her life, this question is of more import to me than would otherwise be the case!  According to Norma Hornung’s initial research, it’s around 13-14 years.  You can help Norma gather more information about Shiba lifespan by going to this link, as she is asking for data related to Shibas who have died in order to gain a better understanding of how long our breed tends to live.

A Reprieve

shassWe took Shassi to the vet and asked about euthanasia and whether it would be kinder at this point. After the vet looked at Shassi and heard our description of what her life was like, she was of the opinion that Shassi was not ready to be put down.

Shassi is still eating well, she is showing some interest in her walks and she is not stressed as long as she is in familiar places. She is sometimes incontinent, but she is not messing herself in the place where she sleeps. The vet said that the constant pacing circles and “not being there” is normal for dogs suffering dementia and Shassi is likely a victim of that.

Shassi has failing kidneys and a heart murmur, but for a dog at the far end the breed’s normal lifespan, she is actually doing very well. I am very happy that Shassi will be with us for longer and hope that she might reach her 16th birthday after all.

Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong. For now, at least.

Remember Katana? HAPPY ENDING!

On the old blog site, I wrote about Katana, a 10-year-old Shiba who had been dumped at PAWS by her owner because he “didn’t have enough time for her”.

Katana

Katana

Today I got a note from the old blog:

First I need to let everyone know that I took Katana in a foster only to get her out of the shelter asap before she got kennel cough. She has since been adopted by our family.  She is a wonderful dog that enjoys playing with squeeky toys and bones. She is in very good hands and will always be for the rest of her golden years.

It was signed by Anonymous.  Anonymous, thanks for making the life of an abandoned older Shiba happy again!

Twilight

1224081904Old age comes to every dog, eventually.  At first it may just manifest in a few white hairs, but as time goes by, stiffening joints and ailments tend to come to the fore.  Shibas can maintain great health for years, but I can tell that Shassi is in the twilight of her life.

Here Shassi is with my aunt, who lives with my mother and takes care of Shassi.  We visit often, but keep Tierce away from her, as she has shifted from LOUDLY telling him where to get off to just trembling and looking frightened.  So we keep him and his exuberance away from her and she is much happier.

It is somewhat disturbing to watch Shassi now – she spends most of her time on the couch, but sometimes will pace around in circles or stare at a corner of the room for hours.  She is also not too steady on her feet and this can be a little distressing as I watch her hind end becoming undecided as to whether it’s going to follow her front or not.

My aunt is very good to Shassi – she has taken her to the vet several times to make sure that her health is as good as can be expected for a 15 year old Shiba.  She buys her special low-protein dog food to minimize any strain on her ailing kidneys.  She takes her out for walks, ensuring that Shassi’s body remains as flexible as possible (I believe it’s the lack of exercise that shortens the lives of many old dogs, whose bodies succumb to the degeneration of muscle and bone).  In short, Shassi has as good a life as possible, given her infirmities.

However, once it becomes clear that Shassi is in pain or is just not enjoying her food and her walks, we will have her euthanized.  It sounds harsh and cruel to some people, but I believe it’s crueler to keep a dog who has outlived its enjoyment of life, alive.

I think that a lot of people don’t understand the real responsibilities of owning a dog.  There is a lot written and said about the responsiblities you take on during a dog’s life, but many people don’t realize how responsible they are for their dog’s death.  To be a truly responsible owner, I believe that you have to be prepared to take your dog’s life when there will be no surcease of pain or if the dog is broken in some way that can’t be fixed enough so the dog has a happy life.

With Shassi, it’s hard to tell.  She is definitely not the dog I grew up with or even the dog I knew two-three years ago.  She is nearly blind and deaf and she shows little interest in things that used to excite her.  However, she still eats, she shows interest in her walks and she is not showing any of the signs of a dog in pain.  We will watch and wait and, while she is here, give her the best life we can.

Update!

Well, Tierce is much better on the Cyclosporine, although I’m not a fan of giving him a pill that requires an anti-nausea pill to keep it in him. Here he is next to one of many jellyfish that washed up on the shore beside Departure Bay Terminal (BC Ferries).

Shassi (forgot to get a picture tonight) is… a 15 year old dog. My aunt took her to one of the best vets in Nanaimo and got a complete blood panel done. Verdict: Shassi is in good shape for a 15 year old dog, but her kidneys are failing. Not entirely an unforeseen thing. Fortunately, my aunt is determined to take care of her and is feeding her the lowest-protein dog food that she can find.

Katana, the subject of my last post is, according to Petfinder, still looking for a home.

Bella, the Shiba missing since this April, is still at large.

Wow, lots of good news, huh? Well, I’m just glad that Tierce isn’t scratching as much and he can stop wearing the cone most of the time!

Katana needs a home!

Photo from PAWS

From Phyllyist:

Katana has one of those stories that breaks our hearts. She’s a loving 10-year-old Shiba Inu whose owner surrendered her because he “didn’t have enough time for her anymore.”

I love how people abandon their pets, then wring their hands and say how sad that they are that they didn’t have enough time/couldn’t find a place/couldn’t train it. Yes, I know that there are always exceptions where the dog and owner just aren’t working out, but I also think that in the majority of cases, the owner doesn’t want to work things out. Basically, they get a dog and then tire of it.

Excerpt from the Petfinder entry for Katana:

This poor girl is so terrified at the shelter that she will not look at anyone. She stares at the back of her cage all day and all night long. If you can help out a senior that spent her entire life in a home environment and is now in a very scary place, please come meet her.

(who wants to find this guy and kick him several times in the gonads? The line starts here!)

Meanwhile, the dog knows no other life, has no inkling of other possibilities and, as in Katana’s case, is too old for most people to consider bringing her home. If Katana was in Nanaimo, I would probably be bailing her out on Saturday.

Katana (via Petfinder) gets along with most other dogs, but really is not interested in them too much and she doesn’t seem to know what cats are (she could probably learn to live with them). She is an older girl and has a pretty low energy level. She is independent and it takes her some time to warm up to new people.

Typical Shiba… she would probably make a great companion for someone who wants to go for sedate walks and just wants some company in the evenings.

I would like to point out that Shassi is 15 and still in decent shape (for a 15 year old dog!) 5 years is a long time – a lot of people don’t keep their cars or houses that long! So, if you’re in the Philly area and looking for a Shiba, but aren’t sure that you can handle having a young one, why not consider Katana? What’s a short time for you is going to be a lifetime for her. You could make it a happy one.

Adoption info:

If you’d like to save Katana, e-mail natalie@phillypaws.org. The adoption fee for a PAWS dog is $40, plus an $8 city license fee if you live in Philadelphia. The fee includes spaying/neutering, which will be performed before your new companion comes home with you, and microchipping. Also, make note of Katana’s ID number above, and bring it with you when you go to the PAWS shelter, which is located at 111 West Hunting Park Ave (map).

More pics! at the Petfinder Profile for Katana