Senior Dogs

I find myself thinking more and more about my senior dog and her brother; Riva and Reveler will be 13 this July.

It is hard to wrap my head around that! How could it be almost 13 years since we saw these little burr heads come into the world??

Riva came home with me when she was 8 weeks old and I knew immediately she was going to be very special. At 8 weeks old she looked at me and gave me a huge Chessie grin as if to say, “you better hang onto your hat because I’m going to be a handful”!

Riva puppy2  Riva puppy (2)  Riva & Jimmie puppy1

My niece, Hailee, grew up with Riva. She is her dog for sure. Hailee doesn’t like to talk about Riva getting old, she’s a very emotional girl when it comes to the dogs. She was the first dog she showed, albeit only once, but they had a good time and did very well with each other. Hailee has always been my dog helper.

Hailee & Girls

Hailee & Riva  the retrieve    Hailee and Riva    Hailee and Riva first show

In my 25+ years having this breed and eight dogs I have only had two that were true counter surfers, but Riva holds the title of “Counter Surfer Elite”. This girl can manage to get to things you thought you had well-hidden and pushed back out of reach. Over the years she has eaten half pans of brownies, ate half my special apple pie that was for my Smiling Rivafamily reunion, cinnamon rolls, and breads just to name a few. One of the most memorable counter surf incidents was when I was visiting my friends for the weekend and Riva stole the butter.  My friend Michelle’s father was preparing dinner for all of us and the dogs were roaming around. He placed a stick of butter on the counter, turned around to stir something on the stove, turned back around and the butter was gone (wrapper and all), he had his hands on his hips and a look like “I could swear I just put a stick of butter there”. This was years ago and we all still laugh about it to this day. She never has any true guilt or shame about what she does, oh yea she gives you a sheepish grin with the ears back because she knows she looks cute and you will just laugh and say, “well I should have done a better job putting things away”. Even at almost 13 she still steals things off the counter.

Riva also has selective hearing. Now according to my nephew when he was about eight years old this is a real disease, lol. There was one time we were camping at the same friend’s house for a big Chessie event; another friend, Jan, was in her camper right next to our tent. Well somehow Riva got out of the tent in the late evening, so it was starting to get dark. Here I am out there with food trying to get her to come just close enough I can grab her collar. Not even once did she acknowledge me and look back, she just kept sniffing around making sure to keep just enough distance between us. You would think this food motivated dog would be easy to catch with food. Finally, after about 15 minutes I managed to wrangle her. The only comment Jan had to say, “only a mother could love Riva”. So,  from that day forward that comment has stuck.

She also thinks if the door opens she must exit! I can’t tell you how many times this girl has taken herself for a walkabout around the neighborhood with me and sometimes others following. One particular incident that stands out in my mind was just a couple years ago. I came out of my bedroom to the living room and I just knew immediately she was not in the house. So, I grab my shoes, a leash and treats and rush out the door only to see my brother rounding the corner with no shirt or shoes, Riva in his arms, yes, he was carrying this 75-pound dog back home.

Riva had one litter of pups, which is where Maia and Titan came from. She wasn’t a bad mother, but she wasn’t what I would call maternal. She would feed them just fine but Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puppies (1)when it came to cleaning them she looked at me like “I am not licking their butts”, so that job was left for me for the most part. When they were old enough to be weaned I could tell she was glad to be relieved of that duty. She never even noticed when they started leaving for their new homes. I think she might have been a little disgusted when two of them stayed behind.

I tell you about all this, so you can have a sense of who she is; a dog with her own agenda! Some of you might say, “well you should have trained her better”, believe me I did my best with her. But honestly after several years I just resigned myself to this is who she is. You all might think this is strange, but I find these qualities endearing because at the end of the day I knew she loved me when she would snuggle up close to me and want me to put my arm around her while she slept. It’s Riva’s world, I just live in it!

When I look at her now graying face and watch her moving a little slower and stiffer, I remember all the antics she has done and how I would be so frustrated with her at times and think, what I wouldn’t give to have that young dog back and do it all again. It’s these memories that really fill my heart with joy even though I know her days, months and maybe even another year or two or waning. Dogs live in the moment and I would like to be like that with her, not thinking about the future but just enjoying the here and now with her. Living each day in the moment with my special Riva Diva!

Riva Fall Photo Shoot 2016 (3)

Riva Fall Photo Shoot 2016 8-3

Tina & the Brown Dogs

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Chesapeake Bay Retriever~Maia.jpg8Hey you…yea you over there!

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Senior Dogs…Senior love!

When they are puppies we think we have all the time in the world before they get old but in blink of an eye they become senior dogs.

Now this varies by breed, smaller breeds with a longer life span will be older before being considered a senior. But for Chesapeake’s their life span is 10-12 years on average so they are considered to be senior dogs when they are about seven.

I have two senior dogs, well actually they would really be considered geriatric because they are at the older end of the senior spectrum.

Cheyenne is twelve and will turn thirteen July 7th, and Riva is ten and will turn eleven on July 31st.

I look at them and think how my time is most likely coming to an end sooner than I would like but all I can do is love them and cherish every day!

Both girls are in fairly good health but I notice some things that tell me the body is aging even if the mind is not.

Cheyenne has several lumps on her body but they have all been checked out over the  years and unless they change my vet said don’t worry about them because they are fatty tumors*. The biggest change in her has started over the past six months or so, she does not have the power in her rear end she once had. She can no longer jump up on the bed with me although at times she really wants to. I could try putting some steps next to the bed for her but the problem with that is if she decides to jump off she could really injure herself. In her mind she is a young pup, she goes flying down my porch steps and sometimes lands on her side…this makes me gasp and hold my breath until she jumps up and starts barking at me. I have started to really encourage her to take her time by telling her “EASY”, this seems to work for us. She is still able to jump up in the van and loves to go. When she gets up after laying down I can hear her making grunting noises but she is a happy girl all the time.Chesapeake Bay Retriever Cheyenne 5                      Well if I can’t jump up on the bed I will just rest my head here!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Cheyenne4                                                   Love this beautiful gray face!!

Riva has shown a couple signs of aging, the occasional grunt when she gets up and her hearing. I have always said she has “selective hearing” because when I call her she always looks behind her at the ghost dog Riva as if to say “she’s calling you again”. But one day I called and called her and she just laid there so I walked up to her and called again and it made her jump so I knew she didn’t hear me the first few times. She has very little gray on her muzzle and she is able to jump up on the bed with ease. I haven’t really noticed as many lumps on her as Cheyenne but every dog is different and she may never get many. She is still a bad counter surfer and garbage picker…age has not changed that in the least. She is and has always been my snuggler, she loves to be right next to me. Her favorite position is curled up next to me on the bed with my arm around her. Chesapeake Bay Retriever Riva1                                                   I’ll just lie here and watch you!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Riva2                                           Just keeping your spot warm for you!

The best we can do with our senior dogs is keep them as active as possible and keep an eye on any changes we might notice such as eating, drinking, elimination. I do supplement them with coconut oil.

Cheyenne and Riva say if you have a senior dog give them a big hug and a juicy treat today!!

*Fatty tumors or Lipomas are subcutaneous (underneath the skin) masses or tumors that develop commonly in dogs. They are usually soft, with limited mobility under the skin. The overlying skin is usually not affected. Over time they can grow larger and can impede movement if they are located between the legs or low on the chest.