Thursday, December 8, 2011

Albi the dog at 15

Albi with her toyAlbi is 15 now. We think. We're not sure. We adopted her in June of 2003, and the profile on her kennel at the Albert Schweitzer Tierheim in Bonn, Germany at that time said she was six and a half years old - who knows if it had been recently updated. We decided she was born in 1997.

Anyway... Albi is 15 now. And Albi now loves to eat. With gusto. This is a huge change for her. She used to be a delicate eater. Nothing like Wiley, the dog I had to beg and bribe to eat, but she has, over the years, turned her nose up at a meal, or not finished. There have been dog food brands she has refused to eat at all. But now, she eats like she is eating perfectly prepared prime rib and it could be taken away at any moment. This started about nine months ago. She eats almost as fast as Buster.

She also now lives for dog treats. All her life, dog treats have been something she could take or leave. She would stare at Buster as he seemed to be about to burst out of his skin, waiting for a treat, as though she were thinking, "Dude, chill!" She grew to become fond of them, but in the last year, dog treats have become THE GREATEST THINGS EVER ON EARTH. If I open the cabinet where her treats are, she is suddenly between my legs, looking for the box - something she has never done before.

She's not losing any weight. On the contrary! She's not fat, but she's not as svelte as she was even two years ago.

Our walks are shorter and slower. Back in September, when I tried to go right and walk around an elementary school we walk around, she pulled left - the route she knew would lead us home more quickly. It was one of those things-have-changed moments. Now, I'm not sure we walk an entire mile in a day any more. But we still walk, every morning and every evening, and she looks forward to it every time.

She still likes meeting other dogs during walks, especially dogs she already knows. And she still wants to dominate young male dogs, and refuses their attempts at being the alpha - she will NOT stand for that and you better just freakin' get off her lawn NOW.

All her bathroom functions are normal and happen in the proper place. That's a huge blessing - for those of you who have had senior dogs, you know what I mean.

Sadly, our girl is very deaf and very blind. After meals, she often can't find me, even if I'm just two feet away, and she will start rushing around the house, looking for me. When we come in after being gone for several hours, she doesn't hear the doors open and close, and doesn't hear the door bell. But sometimes she hears knocks. Sometimes, she knows the garage door is opening. Sometimes. I take her off the leash on Saturdays and Sundays, when we can walk through the field next to the elementary school, and she finds her way just fine - she finds me easily, though, if there are more people around, she gets confused about which is me. I think her hearing is worse than her eyesight at this point. But there's really no way to tell.

Yet she can look out of the window of the front of the house, and see the guy across the street mowing his lawn, and she will start barking. Stay away from my house, dude.

2011 has been a good year for our Albi. I'm hoping it's not her last good year. She does not like this cold weather at all - such a contrast from when she was younger, and seemed to have an energy switch turned on when it got cold, and she would run around the back yard as though to celebrate. It's a long way to warm weather. But I'll know much more about her true health when that warm weather rolls around again.


  1. Happy Birthday to ALBI...
    What a wonderful wonderful family pet-I even hate to use that word-family PET-as I have 3 CATS-who are our HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ALBI CRAVENS- DIETZ..I hope Santa sends lots of treats your way...Your cousins in The Louisville KY say HAPPY BIRTHDAY-kisses...
    As for the lack of---it seems that as like our grandmothers(I speak of Mama Cym and MAMAW) things begin to wear out---that is when we become a little more dependent on our family-so your mommy and daddy will always be there for you to guide you...Love you Aunt Mara and uncle Barry

  2. Albi appreciates the post by her Aunt MB, and would like her Uncle Shag to please come give her a back massage.