My best friend is 105-years-old. She has arthritis, is hard of hearing, and likes to sleep 14 hours a day. She’s my 15-year-old dog, Carmela. Carm has been with me since my early preteen years and has become basically me in dog form – or have I become her in human form? It’s hard to tell, but essentially we’re one and the same. She puts up with my moods, is always happy to see me, and never complains about all of the adventures I drag her along for.
Over the years I’ve had to be more careful as to what qualifies as an adventure for us. In the old days I could walk her for 2 miles, run her around the park for an hour, let her have a little rest, and she’d be ready for an intense tug-of-war game for more or less the entire evening. However now anytime I want to take her on an adventure with me I have to vet the place first.
Is it going to be too much walking for her? Is the terrain too rough? Is it going to be too hot outside for her? Should I bring water? Can I park close enough so that I can carry her back if I need to?
It may sound silly or a little sad that I have to plan so much for a simple outing with my dog, but it’s just how it is. The difference from how she acted when she was a puppy to how she acts now has been such a gradual change that it’s just become something I have learned to deal with over time. For an example, when her hearing started to go I had to find other ways to get her attention, i.e. hand waving and butt taps—it’s just what you have to do.
This past weekend I decided to take Carm to Bug Light Park. Bug Light is a charming, little lighthouse in South Portland, ME. I had been to Bug Light before so I knew that if I parked close enough to the entrance Carm wouldn’t have to walk too far. It was a sunny and breezy, 72-degree day along the coast and the views were just stunning. I could tell that Carm really liked being near the water. It seemed to soothe her in the same way it does me, but then again that could just be because she IS me.
We walked along the path up to the lighthouse and rested for a bit before walking back to the car. She did so well that I thought I would treat her to some ice cream. We stopped at a little ice cream stand in Portland where I had a scoop of Wild Maine Blueberry ice cream (since I’ve now become addicted to it) and got Carm a scoop of Vanilla Bean. The additional walk from the car to the ice cream stand was a little too much for her so she got to enjoy her ice cream in the car with the air conditioning on full blast. Naturally she made a mess of my backseat, but that just comes with the territory.
All in all it is sometimes difficult to care for my 105-year-old best friend, but I don’t mind. She adds so much joy and value to my life that I will gladly put up with the minor inconveniences if it means she’s still living a happy life filled with fun adventures.
Have you ever cared for an elderly dog? What were some of the things you had to do for him/her to make their lives easier?