Quad-City Creatures 
By Heidi Dahms Foster, Prescott Valley, Arizona 
A local blog all about pets and pet activities in the quad-city area.PV, Prescott and beyond.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog: (Very) old dog, years of great memories

 Heidi Dahms Foster

Imij enjoys his birthday cake. 
Photo by Heidi Dahms Foster

Sometimes things work out just the way you would like. 

We have a (very) old dog. He's a black tri-color Australian Shepherd named Imij. He's striking, because he has lots of what we dog people refer to as "chrome" - a big white collar and chest, four white feet, and a blaze down his nose. His black coat shines like obsidian.

I brought Imij home when he was 8 weeks old, and he's been a fixture around our house for 14 years. Not very many dogs make it to that ripe old age. My dogs seem to think about 12 is good enough. 

We had one, a favorite old dog named Robbie, make it to within a month of his 14th birthday, but he struggled with congestive heart failure and we finally had to let him go. 

My husband and I decided a few years ago that we would consider anything past 10 a real gift, and make it a point to enjoy every day with the oldsters. 

In 2004, we attended the Australian Shepherd Nationals in Paso Robles, Calif. We didn't want to leave Rob home. At 12, we thought he might not make it 'til we came home, as he was truly slowing down. 

Since we hauled him along, we decided we would enter him in the Veterans age 10 and over class. Robbie was kind of slow the morning of the class, and he rested ringside on his blanket. 

But when it was time for all those grand oldsters to enter the ring, he remembered that he liked to hear people clapping for him, and he turned on the energy and charm. 

The judge was in tears watching these old dogs strut their stuff, and Rob placed second. He had fun, we had fun, and it's a great memory. 

Imij was at those Nationals, too, and received a couple big awards himself. We treasure the photo we had taken of the two of them with their ribbons. 

When he could get on the bed, Imij was perfectly willing to crawl under the covers and snuggle up for a long nap, no matter how warm it was. He was just happy to be cuddled. With him, it only needed to be a one-dog night!

Imij is pretty wobbly now, quite different from the days he was literally airborne in the yard chasing his tennis ball. The most he can muster these days is a sedate lope for a few steps if he's really excited. 

He can still negotiate the two steps to outside, and find his favorite spot in the sun. He's nearly deaf, and our neighbors are no doubt used to hearing our piercing whistle as we try to rouse him to come inside. 

He still eats well, and he's clear-eyed and shiny-coated. He loves his groomer, Patti, who always makes him look like a champ all over again. 

On Saturday, we decided that in honor of Imij's 14th birthday, he should have his own cake. Randy brought home a small carrot cake and we presented it to him on the kitchen floor. He ate daintily, stealing a look at us very few minutes as if to say, "Is it really OK for me to eat this?" no doubt remembering all the times we scolded him for "counter surfing." If it is edible, Imij will find it. He just can't get up on his hind legs to check out the counter anymore. 

We love puppies, because they are so full of promise and energy. But we especially love our old dogs, because they are so full of great memories.

If you have a great old dog, email a photo and tell me your story. I'll put it online in my Creature Feature blog at PVtrib.com.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Article comment by: Robert Edwards

Your article about the very old dog is very heartwarming. It reminded me so much of my old friend, Brutus, an 8 year old Doberman that I adopted from the Humane Society. I was told that Dobermans don't live much past 8 but I wanted to get him off that concrete floor. We had two wonderful years together. He was so much fun to be with. He went with me everywhere. And everywhere I took him, he got a nice long walk. We walked all over town, slow but sure. I can tell that you loved Imij and Robbie as I loved Brutus. Thank you so much for the memories.

Posted: Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Article comment by: Tammy Cease

Great picture and story on Imji :-) I can't believe my Austin is 10 years old because he still runs, jumps and spins!!!! Every once in a while I see a little weakness in him and sometimes he will hesitate before jumping up on the couch but you are right, anything after 10 years old is a gift!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Article comment by: Peggi Ishman

The birthday boy really looks like he is enjoying that tasty carrot cake. You captured that happy moment in your photograph perfectly. Great story