This month four readers share their love for the older dogs in their lives…
There is nothing as lovely as the companionship of an older pet. These dogs may not be as fast, or as wild, as they once were, but they are wise and peaceful, and their unconditional love just gets stronger with age.
The perfect first dog
Dog trainer Lucy Heath from Grantham, Lincolnshire, says she owes everything to 16-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Ash. “Ash was my first dog after leaving home at 21,” said Lucy. “He was the last puppy in his litter, and I was so lucky because he was so easy. Although we did agility mostly, he liked every activity, including heelwork to music. “I was a post lady at the time, which gave me plenty of time for training classes.
Eventually we became involved in displays and demos and he was so good with all the kids, jumping through their arms, just like my dog Trip does today. “It’s hard to believe that Ash is almost 16. Although his vision is poor, he can still see a little bit, but is completely deaf. His nose works fine though, and I do little enrichment activities for him like scattering treats in the grass for him to sniff out. “He goes on short walks with us every day, but stays at home if we do longer walks with our other dogs. To keep him entertained, we’ve invested in a PupPod Rocker toy, which is controlled by my phone. Ash touches the toy with his nose or paw and it will then click and dispense a treat, but it also uses a light, so even though Ash can’t hear the click, he knows he’s done it right and a treat is coming.
“Sometimes if my partner, Ross, and I go to a dog-friendly cafe we take Ash with us so that he feels part of everything. He wears a harness with a big handle on the back so we can assist him down steps or into the van. For peace of mind, we fitted a Tractive GPS to his collar. If Ash ever went missing, he wouldn’t hear us shouting for him, but the tracker would help us find him. “Ash has a heart condition and renal failure and is on a lot of medication and a veterinary prescribed diet, which has made a massive difference. He was the perfect first dog and I’m so grateful to have him in my life.”
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