I am the proud mom of a 14-year-old, blind Shih Tzu.
Senior dogs are awesome! In all honesty, the older my dog gets, the more I love him. According to science and DNA, his breed is closely related to wolves. When I first heard that, I could not get the image of a pack of Shih Tzu’s trying to take down a full grown elk, out of my head. It’s quite comical actually, because Shih Tzu’s were bread for royalty, and they are such docile, sweet lap dogs.
Georgie has been a family member since puppyhood.
All through his adult life, he seemed like a puppy to me. Then he started to walk slower and lose his eyesight. My dog was entering his senior years.
The first sign that he was losing his vision came about five years ago. I carried him into the house from the groomers, set him down, and watched him walk right into a table.
A few weeks later, I heard the crashing sound of stuff falling. I ran into the living room and found a lamp and other items on the floor and Georgie standing on a table, looking confused. I guess he thought it was the couch.
Thankfully I had adopted another dog right around the same time he started losing his eye-sight, not even knowing how important she would become for Georgie.
I love the picture above. It really captures Georgie’s immediate discontent. Now they’re inseparable!
Over the next several years, Georgie’s vision slowly declined. I’ve seen vets and tried everything for him, but there’s not much that can be done for his eyesight. So he gets carried around and pushed in a stroller sometimes.
My whole family just moved into a new house in another state last year, but it never ruffled Georgie’s feathers. He didn’t seem bothered at all by the move. Although, it took him a few months to learn the layout of the new house.
Now, he can find all of his water bowls. He uses walls to get around, and he gets a lot a of walking in every single day, which he seems to enjoy. If I’m in the kitchen, it takes him a little while to find me, but he won’t give up until he locates me. When he’s not looking for water, or seeking me out, he is right next to Sara. She has become his seeing eye dog sister.
Dogs are so easy to love and give love right back.
I think the one thing that could and would ever bother a dog more than anything else is losing their family. My dogs are a part of my family. So I can’t even imagine my life with out them.
Sometimes Georgie stands in front of a door if he thinks someone is on the other side of it. One morning in our temporary apartment, I woke up to find him standing in front of the bathroom door. He must have walked out of our bedroom and gotten confused and thought I shut the door on him. This made me so sad to see him just standing there waiting for the door to open.
But Georgie still manages to get around with a little help.
My house has stairs all over. It’s two stories with a basement and attic. Georgie can’t do one stair, let alone a whole stair case, so he gets carried when he needs a little extra help. He gets carried up stairs and down stairs. I carry him outside eight times a day for potty breaks.
George loves walks, but he sure takes his time. It takes him 10 minutes to walk the length of two houses. When we go for family walks, he rides in the stroller, and we all walk together.
I give him certain foods and supplements to help with his arthritis, and sometimes I find him walking around the house, moving pretty quickly.
One of his favorite activities is finding a piece of carrot or other food that falls to the floor when I’m cooking.
If he smells something, he’s like a dog on a mission. He’s sniffs and walks around until he finds it. He gets a newfound energy, and I gotta encourage that. I’ve found ways to make little games for him.
You gotta stimulate your dog’s working senses!
Find The Steak: Georgie’s Favorite Game
Every time I cook steak, I take a small plate with chopped up steak, vegetables, and a little baked potato, and I hide it in my kitchen on the floor, usually near a corner behind all of my recycling bags. Since Georgie’s vision is impaired, it doesn’t take much effort to “hide” something from him.
I can see it in his whole body when he picks up a smell. His ears perk up, then he starts walking in circles. Then, when he gets on the scent, he starts tracking. Let me tell you, Shih Tzu’s are not very good trackers. Sometimes it can take him 10-15 minutes to find it, but he really seems to love the hunt. When he finds that steak, he digs in like it’s his last meal. I’m telling you, when a dog finds food, they enjoy it more than when you give it to them in a bowl because they had to work for it.
Georgie Helps Out With Homework, Too.
My daughter had a history assignment to recreate a historical photo. Georgie helped her get it done, and together they got an A.
More than anything, I want to tell new dog parents that the older your dog gets, the cuter they become. As puppies, you don’t think they could get any cuter. Not true. When they start getting into their senior years they get even CUTER. Sorry, just my opinion.
George is the happiest when he’s just hanging out with his family. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing. He just likes being together with us. It’s my favorite thing, too!
Do you have an impaired or senior dog? Have you created any fun little games to play with them? Please let us know in the comments below!