I enjoy every phase of a dog's life. Since we have dogs that span from puppy to senior, I get to see all the changes that occur during the life span. I find it very fascinating!
Ben and Sophie are currently our two oldest. They will be 12 in April. A collie's life span is 10-12 years. We've had a couple that were a little over 11 when they passed away, but certainly Benny and Soph are the healthiest and oldest of the collies we have had. I think what I have learned the last few years about nutrition and the level of care they receive contribute to their longevity.
This is not to say that they can be with the rest of the dogs! Along with the gray on the muzzles, they have slowed down, sleep harder than they used to and while they think they can still run hard and wrestle, it often ends up they aggravate the touch of arthritis they both have. They still have great appetites and enjoy a treat but I have to be careful how many treats they get and make sure it's not too rich.
During these bitter cold days, they spend most of their time inside where they get extra attention and care. Both dogs seem to have lost some hearing, but Sophie will sometimes be completely deaf. Usually, that happens when I tell her not to get into the cats' food or their litter box, it's time to go outside---hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection????
As they have aged, both Ben and Sophie have developed unique traits and habits that still make us laugh. I taught Ben how to sit and "wave" a few years ago. He will doggedly do this trick whenever he wants attention, even while Sophie knocks into him trying to be first for the hugs. Sophie still likes to be the alpha and tries to incite barking contests with the other dogs when she's outside. The adults largely ignore her, but the puppies can always be counted on to play the game. Sophie will rush along the fence, barking and snarling and the puppies run from the other side, also doing their best to sound ferocious. The game lasts about five minutes these days. Sophie has lost a few teeth so the snapping of her mouth makes no sound, wrinkling up her snout to snarl makes her sneeze and she just doesn't have the stamina like she used to. The puppies get easily bored, too, and since the game never varies anymore, they can't be enticed to join in for very long. Sophie gets so frustrated when she's at her "fiercest" and the puppies have moved on to other toys!
Sophie did give me a scare a couple of weeks ago. When I went into their room, she was in a crate, eyes partially open and I couldn't see her chest move as she was breathing. I called her name with no response. I thought for sure she had slipped away during the night. Finally, after my panicked, shaky call of "Sooophieee", she raised her head. I'm sure she wondered why I was hugging her and laughing like a fool! Ben was immediately jealous of all the attention his sister was getting and tried to get into the hugging, too! (which, of course, he did!)
I know the day is coming when there will be a blog post that one of these guys have left us. While I dread it and know that that day will be very painful, I would never trade losing all these other wonderful days by not having these dogs in my life. Each day is precious!