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In The Gloaming of Our Lives

The Gloaming

The word 'gloaming' was first recorded somewhere around the year of 1000 from Scotland!  At that time, it was 'glomung' from the Scottish 'glom' which means twilight.  It's used now as then to describe that time of night when the world seems to 'hang' for that hour just before sunset.

It's a special time when all the beauty that's tucked away in secret comes to vibrant life.  As if to say - "I'm still here, but not for long" or "Don't forget me when I'm gone".When we speak of the Gloaming Hour of Life, we're talking about those Olden Golden years that, if we're lucky enough - we'll live long enough to see. Sure, we all start out as pups, but eventually we're going to get older, and older, until one day we'll enter into our own personal 'GLOAMING HOUR'.The Gloaming Hour of the day is one of Ambrr's favorite times of the day.  She tells me that the colors change suddenly...producing colors unnoticed during the sunlit hours. Blades of grass or leaves on distant trees take on a whole new look.  She says the golds and yellows and greens and blues all of a sudden come in different shades and become all the more vivid...as if gracing us with one last chance to appreciate the beauty.   That's 'the Gloaming Hour'.Perhaps as we enter into our own 'Gloaming', the same is true.  Perhaps then everything becomes all the more vivid and beautiful and priceless.  As if, for one last time, we're awarded the chance to truly appreciate all that otherwise has gone unnoticed.  That's what the Gaelic peoples say and that's what Ambrr believes.  Maybe they're onto something here.I know...it's something we all KNOW will come around, yet we're always shocked to see it when it gets here.  Humans aren't any different - believe me.  Listen to them.  They think they're going to stay young forever!   It's not until we all, humans and animals, experience 'the gloaming' that we learn the truth of life.  So I guess we might just as well admit it...we have more in common with these Humans than we may wish to admit in public!Now, we all know dogs younger than us.  We all know dogs older than us.  Right now we're going to talk about the older ones...the ones who are near or have reached their Prime of Life.  Unfortunately, during this time of life's cycle, there may be some un-pleasantries to put up with.  That's the purpose for this page...to learn what might be in store for us...in our GOLDEN YEARS!There are some things we all should understand about aging.  One thing is that our bodies get a little tired as the years pass.  It seems that overnight, they start acting as if they have a mind all their own and won't cooperate with what we want them to do.  It can be frustrating.  It can be frightening.  That's why we need to study this process and how if effects our lives BEFORE we're actually there! The first thing most dogs notice is that they start slowing down a bit.  Everything slows down...getting up...lying down...walking...climbing steps...eating...pretty much everything but sleepingSleeping seems to come a little quicker and a whole lot easierThere might be other reasons for 'slowing down'.  Don't just assume that it's the aging process making YOU slow a bit.  Get to your Vet and see if there's something else causing the problem. 

You might just be surprised to know that you're not aging at all...you might just have a 'bug' that needs some attention!

Ahh....these 'Golden Years'...this 'Prime of Life'...This time...'our Gloaming'....It's not something to fear.  But it's certainly something to prepare for the right way!


One thing that seems to really bother the 'older generation' a lot is when the 'pipes' quit working on their own.  It happens sometimes.  It's like they just get tired and worn out!I'm talking about the bladder and the bowel here...for those young pups who haven't got a clue!There can be lots of reasons why this happens - AND you don't even have to be....'that mature'...for it to happen, so it might do all you pups out there some good to read up on this!I found a couple of websites that are pretty interesting and explain rather straight forward how to manually 'express' us when it's necessary.  We've got to get our humans to read up so they understand the 'WHYs' and the 'HOW TOs' BEFORE it's necessary!Of course, one of my favorite sites is Handicapped Pets - so I'll of course include THEIR site for you.  It's got pictures and everything and I think it's really easy to follow.  Here's what THEY say: http://www.handicappedpets.com/Articles/express.htm 

Now there's another site that I like too - and it also describes the condition of INCONTINENCE (that's what they call it when we can't control our bladder or bowels). 

So after you check out Handicapped Pets - check out this site too: http://www.ourdds.org/work_edu_bladder.html

I've got my share of problems - being deaf and blind DOES present some...interesting...situations at times.  And it's easy sometimes to get a little 'down and out' over what can be a constant struggle.  But that's when you have to stand up on those PAWs that God gave ya, and BARK as loud as you can - and laugh in the face of hardship and stay determined to overcome

WHATEVER comes our way!

After all - we're DOGS - CANINES - we're the best there is, right?RIGHT!And we can show anybody or anything that we're strong and dedicated and determined - and we SHALL overcome!So all you out there who are a little upset over losing some control of YOUR bladder and/or bowel - just think of it this way:  YOU OUTLASTED THEM!  YOU WON!And let your humans do for you what is necessary.  I know - it's a tad bit awkward and a great deal embarrassing too, but remember - these people love you!  Nothing is too big a deal for them when it comes to you - YOU ARE THEIR SOULS and they'll do for you whatever they can.  It's just some things we all have to adjust to now and then in life - and this is just one of them.OK - enough about this - you get the point.GET EDUCATED.GET YOUR HUMANS EDUCATED.GET PAST THE EMBARRASSMENT.GET YOUR 'BUSINESS' DONE ANY WAY YOU CAN!And don't forget to be sure to see your Vet.  He/She will know (usually) what the problem is and what to do about it.  Never just ASSUME that incontinence is caused by something you haven't been tested for. 


I hope this helps some of you out - young and old - four legged and two legged....and yes....even those with canes!Gabe"OUR Version of ALTZHEIMER'S: Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome "

Have you noticed changes in your aging dog's zest for life?

Has she stopped greeting you at the door?

Has he forgotten once familiar old tricks or stopped responding to even basic commands?

Many dog owners attribute changes like this to normal aging, but personality changes and forgetful behavior is not a normal part of dogs growing old.

Dogs are living longer than they did in the past, due to better nutrition, advancements in preventative health care, and access to medical procedures that were once available only to humans. Loving, responsible pet owners help too. Dogs are increasingly cared for like family and many people are willing to spend whatever it takes to keep their pets alive and healthy as long as possible."written by: Sandy Moyer

BellaOnline's Dogs Editor

You have to admit - we DO strangely resemble our human counterparts at times. Certain characteristics...moodiness...expressions...diet...appreciation for a nice comfy chair...

These things we share as 'commons' with our humans.

But there's other things that connect us to one another - and through understanding ONE species...we can understand the other.

One example is this thing called Alzheimer's Disease.Humans and Dogs both age - that's a given.  But as we do so, there's certain conditions that may arise - conditions such as cognitive impairment.  The specialists have worked hard and long trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding Alzheimer's, and they've come up with a few things that might better explain this heartbreaking disease.  Here's what they say:"...humans and animals have the same sort of degenerative brain lesions. With age, dogs, like humans, naturally accumulate deposits of beta amyloid, a nerve-damaging protein, in the brain. This starch-like protein builds up, becomes waxy, and forms plaque. As plaque builds up, it clogs the brain and inhibits the transmission of signals from the brain. In both Alzheimer's and Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, excessive senile plaque leads to more severe cognitive impairment."Sometimes the changes occur in a slow fashion and maybe their not noticed or paid much attention to until they become really obvious..to US and to our humans.  Doctors say that there are certain signs that MIGHT suggest we're suffering from 'cognitive impairment'.  Here's the list of signs as seen on http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art25417.asp.

These changes in behavior could be signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction....

Sometimes a disoriented dog....Stops responding to his name or Forgets once familiar tricks or May stop responding to even basic commands or No longer remembers routines or Stares blankly into space or at walls or Gets stuck in corners, under furniture or behind furniture or Engages in repetitive and compulsive disorders or Paces or wanders aimlessly or Compulsively walks in circles... around a table or from room to room or appears lost or confused, even in familiar surroundings.  Dogs who knew exactly where their yard ended and never crossed the line, wander past the normal boundaries, becoming lost and confused, easily agitated and/or barks for no reason.

They say that some signs that 'something's just not right' can be reveled through our interactions with people in general.  You know that we're usually just thrilled to no end by visitors, for example.  Well, with this condition, that seems to change a bit.  Again, I'm going to rely on the list that appears on the Bella On Line website:Dogs who experience decreased interaction with people....
No longer greet visitors or even family members
No longer try to get attention
No longer care about being petted
    They walk away even when being petted and receiving affection.
At other times, it might just be something like sleeping patterns.  We might end up sleeping away the whole day and night - OR - we can't seem to relax enough to sleep at all.  Either way, something's wrong.Dogs who experience changes in sleep patterns...
Sleep more during the day
Sleep less at night
May wander around instead of sleeping
Now being blind and deaf, and living in a house that sits on 'stilts' of sorts - I wasn't able to go up and down the stairs that lead to the yard until just a about a year ago when we finally got a fensed in yard!  Still, I'm there all day, can't 'take myself out', so - my human (Karen) has given me a designated area on the floor for me to...you know....do my 'business'.  She has plastic sheets down to protect the carpet and then covers it with old sheets and rubber-backed rugs. 

Yeah, my laundry gets done at least once a day - depending on how things go. 

When HANDs lived here with us, she could take care of the laundry and/or let me out when it wass necessary.  But now that she's moved back to her home-state of OHIO, I'm here all day without a choice but to use the 'designated area'. 

At any rate, I'm lucky enough to be able to control things and use the proper area for...it.  But as we dogs get a little older - it might be impossible to control things like that.  It's frustrating, I'm sure, for those who experience the incontinence.  But it MIGHT be a sign of Alzheimer's, so be sure to get checked out if you're experiencing problems in that area!

Dogs with CDS sometimes forget housetraining...

They have "accidents" indoors... even soon after being outside
They stop "asking" to go out
They seem to forget the reason for going outdoors

Alzheimer’s Disease is a frightening possibility - and surely not anything to look forward to having.  Both Animals and Humans can benefit from further tests and scientific research into this disease.  HANDS was telling me that once she suffered a 'pre-stroke' and was at the doctor's office.  He was sending HANDS to the hospital for some further tests, and the doctor said to her: "if you notice you're slurring your words or can't remember who you are or anything, be sure to call me right away".
Well, at the time (and in her condition), HANDS thought that made total sense.  But while at the hospital, she was telling a friend what the doctor had said and HE said: "If you don't know who YOU are, how are you expected to know who HE is?  This was a test and YOU FAILED!  That's why we're here now for more tests!"I guess they had quite a laugh over it all, and HANDS recovered...I guess....with little if any residual problems. 

(As far as SHE knows, anyway!)

Be sure to check out some websites that deal with the aging process of the Canine.  You'll find all sorts of information that can and probably will be very useful in time.  Here are a few URLs I've found...with the help of HANDS, of course.

Handicapped Pets: Signs of Alzheimer’s in Pets  http://handicappedpets.com/Articles/alzheimer.htm

Treating Alzheimer's in Dogs and Cats: By Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M: http://home.ivillage.com/pets/cats/0,,mm2n,00.html  

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction: by Krista Miffin http://dogs.about.com/cs/disableddogs/a/bldisease102.htm



We all age at a different rate. Humans do too.  There's several reasons for rate of aging.  One thing that effects US is our breed and size when fully grown.  Have your Humans check out the chart below so they'll know what to expect from US.

A Dog's Age in Human Years

Age Up to 20 lbs 21-50 lbs 51-90 lbs Over 90 lbs
5 36 37 40 42
6 40 42 45 49
7 44 47 50 56
8 48 51 55 64
9 52 56 61 71
10 56 60 66 78
11 60 65 72 86
12 64 69 77 93
13 68 74 82 101
14 72 78 88 108
15 76 83 93 115
16 80 87 99 123
17 84 92 104 Red numbers =

Blue numbers =
18 88 96 109
19 92 101 115
20 96 105 120
Chart developed by Dr. Fred L. Metzger, DVM, State College, PA. 

When we get a little older, there are certain things that we might experience that just weren't heard of when we were pups.  Here's a few of them!


As our bodies age, our bones get a bit thinner and a bit more brittle.  Eventually we might start to ache in our joints.  Mornings are usually more painful, since through the night we're apt to lie there without moving much.  The muscles stiffen up when they're not moved.  And those joints just seem to want to stay put when we'd rather them move and bend! 

The hips are primarily effected by Arthritis.  And they say that's pretty painful.  If you hear an older dog whining or groaning when they try to move or stand up, it could be due to Arthritis.  The good news is that there's medications that will relieve the pain and stiffness, making them more comfortable.

Usually your Dog Doctor will prescribe some type of anti-inflamatory for Arthitis, which lessens the inflamation and swelling.  Be sure your humans check with your Vet before giving  ANY medications for this condition.  There are some medications which can poison us, so don't take anything your Vet hasn't said to take!

Cushing's Disease

This is one of the most suffered diseases in the dog world!  It all starts with a tiny gland located in the brain: the PITUITARY GLAND.

The pituitary produces something called ATCH, a hormone that encourages the adrenel gland to get busy and make cortisones. An excess amount of cortisones do all sorts of stuff to our bodies.  It causes enlargement of the liver, decreases hair growth, thins the skin, increases appetite and thirst, decreases muscle mass, regulates the mineral content in the blood, and increases the size of the abdomen.  Because of the excess cortisones,an ATCH-producing tumor can form in the pituitary gland. 

And this is Cushings Disease, or 'hyperadrenocorticism'.

Because of the increased appetite and thirst, we'll eat and drink more; gaining weight and having to urinate more than usual.  Because Cushing's Disease decreases muscle mass, our limbs will weaken and eventually can be debilitating. It decreases also the amount of connective tissue needed to stablize our joints, so the joints can really start to ache something terrible.  Due to  the condition increasing the size of our abdomen, we end up with a pot-bellied tummy - not very attractive! 

One form of Cushing's Disease is actually MAN-MADE

When our humans accidently give us too much corticosteroid supplement, it can cause the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and the whole body to make some serious mistakes - resulting in too many cortisones - resulting in Cushing's Disease.  Now I better add that it's not always the Human's fault.  Somtimes we might have to take some medication for another disease, but that medication can cause the same effects as overdosing of the steroidal supplement.

Here are the symptoms of Cushing's Disease.  Have your human read over them carefully, but tell them not to jump to conclusions.  There are some symptoms listed which can also be symptoms for other diseases.  Best bet is to go to your Vet with any of the symptoms so you can be checked out completely!

       a) increased/excessive thirst and drinking (polydipsia)
    b) increased/excessive urination (polyuria)
       c) urinary accidents in previously housetrained dogs
 d) increased/excessive appetite (polyphagia)
      e) food stealing/guarding, begging, trash dumping, etc.
f) sagging, bloated, pot-bellied appearance
      g) weight gain or its appearance due to fat redistribution
       h) loss of muscle mass, giving the appearance of weight loss
    i) bony, skull-like appearance of head
      j) exercise intolerance, lethargy, general or hind-leg weakness
     k) new reluctance to jump on furniture or people
       l) excess panting, seeking cool surfaces to rest on
      m) symmetrical thinning of hair or baldness (alopecia) on torso
      n) other coat changes like dullness or dryness
     o) slow regrowth of hair after clipping
      p) thin, wrinkled, fragile, and/or darkly pigmented skin
     q) easily damaged/bruised skin that heals slowly
       r) hard, calcified lumps in the skin (calcinosis cutis)
      s) susceptibility to infections (especially skin and urinary)
     t) diabetes, pancreatitis, seizures


How Cushing's Disease is treated depends a lot on the health of the dog and the type of Cushing's Disease he or she has.

Most of the time the dogs with Cushing's Disease are elderly dogs.  There might be other problems they're suffering, so treatment can be tricky!  If you have arthritis, it might just be smarter and more comfortable for you to not have treatment.

Chemotherapy can be administered through Lysodren, or Ketaconazole may be used to treat pituitary-dependent or adrenal-based Cushing's, or Anipryl can be used to fight pituitary-dependent Cushing's.

If Cushing's Disease is caused by an adrenal tumor, they will have to surgically remove the tumor and the affected adrenal gland. These tumors tend not to recur on the remaining adrenal gland, and prognosis is very good for dogs with benign adrenal tumors.

Radiation is used sometimes to treat Pituitary Macroadenomas (tumors).  The job of the radiation is to shrink the tumors and that will help with the neurological problems caused  by the pressure they can place on the tissue of the brain.  But radiation is really expensive and it might not be easy for lots of older dogs.

 Bottom line is this: the treatment may not be imporant to have in order for us to live longer lives as much as it can make us live better lives.  And our comfort is really the most important thing, right?  Now, it's not the end of the world if you have Cushing's Disease! 

Or at least, it doesn't have to be.

If caught early enough, the prognosis is actually pretty good!  It might take about six months or so, but you'll start feeling better in time. And in a few more months, your hair will start coming in nice and shiny and your coat can start getting back to normal.  If it's caught early enough, you can live for a long, long time.

It's when it isn't caught that it can be dangerous.  If it isn't caught, it just keeps getting worse and worse until one day, you're fighting for your very life.  You might end up developing other things like thyroid problems, diabetes, hypertension, blood clotting, congestive heart, liver, and kidney failure.

So what else can I say?  Get checked out!

And do it NOW!

Every Senior Dog should be sure to visit their Vet at least once a year just to play it safe.  There's a lot of diseases out there besides Arthritis.  Other diseases that are seen in older dogs are Diabetis, Cushing's disease, cancer, and kidney, heart, and liver diseases. Your Dog Doc might want to take some blood to test.  He can then tell which disease might be present, if any,  and then treat it.

No matter the disaese though, there are some things that YOU and your HUMAN can do to help prevent and/or improve the condition. 

Here's a list I found on The Senior Dogs Project Website: http://www.srdogs.com

Here's a list of things you should do NOW to be sure you're healthy LATER!


Eat the right foods and in the right amount. Extra weight is hard on the bones!


Be sure you keep your teeth clean. Periodontal Disease is one of the most commonly diseases seen by a Vet!


Be sure not to skip your check-ups! 

You know that saying:  A check-up with Doc will keep ya a JOCK!


Make sure you know all about the diseases and sympyoms so that you can let your Humans and Dog Doctors know if you are having symptoms!




Somewhere between the age of 7yrs and 14yrs, you might have trouble with loss of vision, and it just might be due to Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration...or SARDS.  It seems to attack the female even more than the male, but males get it too.  It's somthing that just happens!  One minute you can see - the next you can't.  At least our humans usually don't have a clue that it's happening.   SARDS is weird and usually you'll get really thirsty and hungry - like you can't get enough water or food.  Of course, that means you'll start gaining some weight too.  Sometimes you'll even start losing some of your ability to hear and smell!  (I told ya it's weird!)

It's really, really important that you learn all you can about SARDS...know the symptoms and know a good doctor that will run all the tests to get to the real root of the problem.  You can check out these sites for more detailed information on SARDS, tests for SARDS, treatment and prognosis info.

Whatever ya do - do something!  This is no slight disorder! Check out the sites and when in doubt - see a doc!







The Senior Dogs Project.."Looking Out for Older Dogs" ..


The Ten Most Important Tips for Keeping Your Older Dog Healthy

1. Establish a relationship with the best veterinarian you can find. For most older dogs, it is advisable to make an appointment with the vet every six months. Your vet should be someone whom you trust and with whom you feel very comfortable.

2. Become informed about the conditions common to older dogs and the therapies used for them. Be alert to symptoms, bring them to your vet's attention promptly, and be prepared to discuss treatment options.

3. Feed your older dog the best food you can afford; consider feeding him a home-prepared diet and two small meals daily rather than one large one.

4. Don't overfeed your dog. Obesity will create health problems and shorten his life.

5. Consider the use of dietary supplements such as glucosamine/chondroitin for arthritis.

6. Give your senior dog adequate exercise, but adjust it to her changing abilities.

7. Attend to your dog's dental health. Brush her teeth daily and have them cleaned professionally whenever your vet advises it.

8. Tell your vet you wish to have your dog vaccinated only once every three years, as currently advised by the major veterinary colleges.

9. Be diligent in controlling fleas and ticks, and keep your dog and his environment scrupulously clean.

10. Make your senior dog as much a part of your life as possible, and do all you can to keep him interested, active, happy and comfortable.

(Of course, these ten tips also apply in large part to young dogs, too.)



 BILIARY:  A tick-borne illness.  Be careful of this one!  Do whatever you can to keep ticks from getting on you!  When it's hot and damp and wet out, take special care to protect yourself.  There are some ticks out there who can really cause you problems - they'll bite you and send some tiny organisms into your body, through  your bloodstream, and next thing you know - you're feeling sick and weak and you'll lose your appetite.  Then your gums can turn white, your belly will swell, and if you don't get to a doctor right away, it could even...well, it could be really bad!  So use your tick collars and your sprays and watch what you're doing!

HIP DYSPLASIA: (Slack or loose hip or elbow joints) is common in large, active breeds like German Shepherds. Movement becomes gradually more and more painful.  Eating right when you're a pup can actually help prevent this one!  This condition may or may not be hereditary, so get tested and get a certificate to show that your parents were HD-Free.  If you end up with HD, there is something you can do about it...you can have surgery.  I know...that's not exactly the most soothing idea on the books, so try to take care of yourself while you're a young pup!


Intervertebral Disc Disease


This is just something that just says it all about a love between a dog and his people.



by Jimmy Stewart

He never came to me when I would call
Unless I had a tennis ball,
Or he felt like it,
But mostly he didn't come at all.   

When he was young
He never learned to heel
Or sit or stay,
He did things his way.

Discipline was not his bag
But when you were with him things sure didn't drag.
He'd dig up a rosebush just to spite me,
And when I'd grab him, he'd turn and bite me.

He bit lots of folks from day to day,
The delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn't read our meter,
He said we owned a real man-eater.

He set the house on fire
But the story's long to tell.
Suffice it to say that he survived
And the house survived as well.

On the evening walks, and Gloria took him,
He was always first out the door.
The Old One and I brought up the rear
Because our bones were sore.

He would charge up the street with Mom hanging on,
What a beautiful pair they were!
And if it was still light and the tourists were out,
They created a bit of a stir.

But every once in a while, he would stop in his tracks
And with a frown on his face look around.
It was just to make sure that the Old One was there
And would follow him where he was bound.

We are early-to-bedders at our house--
I guess I'm the first to retire.
And as I'd leave the room he'd look at me
And get up from his place by the fire.

He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs,
And I'd give him one for a while.
He would push it under the bed with his nose
And I'd fish it out with a smile.

And before very long
He'd tire of the ball
And be asleep in his corner
In no time at all.

And there were nights when I'd feel him
Climb upon our bed
And lie between us,
And I'd pat his head.

And there were nights when I'd feel this stare
And I'd wake up and he'd be sitting there
And I reach out my hand and stroke his hair.
And sometimes I'd feel him sigh
        and I think I know the reason why.

He would wake up at night
And he would have this fear
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things,
And he'd be glad to have me near.

And now he's dead.
And there are nights when I think I feel him
Climb upon our bed and lie between us,
And I pat his head.

And there are nights when I think
I feel that stare
And I reach out my hand to stroke his hair,
But he's not there.

Oh, how I wish that wasn't so,
I'll always love a dog named Beau.