When I met my husband 7 years ago, he had a pitbull named Junior. Junior was large, strong, very intimidating, playful, loved swimming, and was a huge teddy bear. I never had any problems with him being aggressive to me ever. I came into the marriage with a miniature dachshund, Lilly, and she rules over Junior. Junior has never done anything to ever hurt little Lilly. Lilly has even attacked him many of times over a toy or a bone but Junior ALWAYS lays down submissively to Lilly.
Fast forward to today, you would not see the 80 something pound dog you once saw before. Junior has aged over the years, as we all do. But dogs have a shorter life span and with the shorter life span, I get to watch Junior go down hill. Over the past couple years Junior has lost interest in eating and all the other things he use to do. He has gone from being the dog that wanted to snatch the ball and make you wrestle it from him to being a dog that can barely stand. There are days that I call him Bambi because he can barely keep his legs beneath him like a newborn with wobbly long legs. I call him Bambi so that I don’t feel the heartbreak.
Junior now weighs half as much as he use to and makes me look like I am a bad owner. I have gone through so many different ways to get him to gain weight but he can only eat so much in a day. Once I fed him so much that he vomited…so counter productive. I have tried Junior on soft dog food, I have changed his food to a higher quality food with a premium price, and I even feed him extra snacks. None of this has helped him to gain weight. My mother-in-law saw him and instantly started feeding him as if I were not already trying to get him to eat more. Initially it hurt my feelings because I thought she believed that I was neglecting him. But she has learned that Junior actually eats more than I do and still looks very thin.
I have read so many vet discussions, articles, tips, and blogs about skinny dogs, causes and helping them put on weight. But today I read something else…aging dogs tend to lose their appetite when they get closer to dying and as long as he is getting up to socialize and eat occasionally, I should be happy that he is still doing well. But it has not stopped me from still feeding him several small meals throughout the day. Today he got up to greet me and wagged his tail really well…he hasn’t had the energy to do that for some time. It was encouraging and made me smile, praise and love him more!
But I also have to face reality. My mother-in-law reminded me that with Junior being about 18 years old, he has already outlived many dogs of his kind. So here is my thought…I will be there and get him to eat until he is ready to lay down the last time. I will love Junior and make him as happy and comfortable as I possibly can because that is how I would want to be treated. I want to be surrounded by those that I love and be happy when my days come to an end. As for Junior, he too will be loved until he lays down to rest…in due time.