Monday, April 12, 2010

Time Flies When Your Having Fun!!!

It was September 2006, the weather was more like July, but my senior year of college had just begun when I adopted Milly. I broke every rule about adopting a dog on impulse, but I knew the moment I laid eyes on the sweet Golden Retriever that I would love her for the rest of her days. Since the moment I first saw Milly's big, brown, doe eyes looking up at me, I've known that we were meant for each other.

When I adopted Milly she was supposed to be younger than she actually was, by about 2-3 years. I'm glad I didn't know her actual age, because I might have turned her up for fear of future heart break if I'd thought my days with her would be limited. The first week I had Milly I made my most valiant effort to make her feel loved. That was all I cared about. I wanted her to feel like she had finally come home, and that she was safe with me. I let her sleep in my bed every night (okay, that went on for a full year), she was terrified of her food and water bowls, but I hand fed her every meal, she didn't know what to do with toys, but I encouraged her to play with lots of praise and treats.

When I look at Milly now, that seems like a life time ago. She knows exactly what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and she makes her opinions clear. She gobbles down her food as soon as I present it to her; in fact, I now add water and fresh veggies to her meals to slow down her eating; she is very opinionated about what toys she will and will not play with (she loves plush toys with squeakers, but hates latex squeaky toys); she tells me when it's time to get up, or if she's bored and wants to play; she races to the door to retrieve her leash if she thinks the possibility of a car ride could be in her future. She is the ideal dog, she'll sit under my table at a restaurant with outdoor seating, she'll calmly ride the elevators, she'll wait for permission before exiting the grooming tub, she'll silently lay under my desk at work with her head on my feet when I'm really busy, and she'll look to me for reassurance that it's okay to lick a toddler. She's just perfect!

For the past three years, I've been told that Milly is a geriatric. I go with whatever it is the vet recommends for her care - I've started expressing her anal glands (gross, I know!) at home myself after the vet suggested it, I keep her on a loading dose of Cosequin DS and fish oil supplements, I brush her daily and stretch and massage her joints, I regulate her exercise to make sure she is getting neither too little nor too much, I continue to mentally and physically stimulate her in new and different places, and of course, I've added extra protein to her diet, as older dogs require more. But, she's never really shown any signs of old age. Sure, her muzzle has slowly become more filled with grey hairs, and she's a little stiffer about jumping into the car in the snow, but she really has been just the same dog I've always had!

That is, until recently. I woke up yesterday to Milly's normal nudges on my arm, and her normal morning wake-up calls, but I noticed something different. The medium golden coat that glistens in the sun has now become a white mask on her face. Her face is almost entirely white, now. Her body has numerous white hairs (yes, before she had the occasional grey hair) throughout it. She now is a bit slower to jump in the car, though she displays incredible athletisism, still. Milly also seems to be smarter than ever before!

I know the old adage, older is wiser, but I think it is really true. I've been working with Milly since I got her to walk on a loose leash, to not acknowledge and squirrels or birds we encounter on our saunters, and to respond when I ask her to do various commands. She's always been pretty good, but never perfect. She's always listened, but never been absolutely spot-on, and I've always needed to give her corrections.

Not anymore! It's like all of the sudden, the same day I realized her face is now entirely white, she is spot-on with every command! I used to walk her in a prong collar, but this week she's been flawless on the flat collar. She used to leap in the air and bark at squirrels, but now she simply perks her ears as if to say, "Hmmm, that's intersting, but not worth my time." Of course, Milly still eagerly runs to the leash rack if she thinks a walk is in her cards, but it seems as though she's wiser about it.

It's wonderful to watch my Milly age into such a dignified and wise dog, but at the same time I know in the back of my mind our days are somewhat limited. Perhaps, that is Milly's only flaw, that she will not live as long as me. I love her so dearly, and picturing my life with out her is virtually impossible.

I keep looking at her, and while, perhaps, I should let the fear of her mortality impact my emotions, all I can see is pride in my olden golden! I love her more than words can express, and she's teaching me a lot about life as I watch her wisen each day. It truly has been a blast to watch Milly age, and be with her through her life. She has certainly taught me about patience, love, dedication, hardwork, and playfulness. It's a blessing to have such a fun reminder telling me how to live my own life. She truly is a wise old lady!

Many of you know that I regularly bake my own dog treats. They're cheaper, they're healthier, and it's simply a fun activity to do! I love to bake, but I hate consuming those added calories, so baking for Milly is perfect for me. I own numerous doggie cookbooks, and over the years have tweaked and perfected my favorite recipes. Tonight, I made Doggie Peanut Butter Cookies and Grrrnola. Milly goes absolutely bonkers for these treats, and they're so much fun to make for her!

I highly recommend picking up the ugliest but best dog cookbook that has ever been written, "Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs" by Cheryl Gianfrancesco.

Doggie Peanut Butter Cookies:

  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of wheat germ
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of water
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, wheat germ, and salt in a large bowl then mix in peanut butter, egg, oil, and water. Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surfact until about 1/2 inch thick. Then, cut out the biscouts using a cookie cutter (I use a dog themed cookie cutter. but any fun cookie cutter will work), or cut into squares (a pizza cutter works perfectly for this). Put the biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes for the smaller sized cookies, and up to 35 minutes for the larger shaped ones. Store in the fridge... if they last that long!
Grrrnola: Oat-nola for doggies

  • 1.5 cups of quick-cooking oats
  • 1.2 cup of wheat germ
  • 1.2 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1.2 cup of pure honey
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup of Carob Chips (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a baking sheet. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.
  2. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes; let cool.
  3. Transfer the Grrrnola to a resealable plastic bag and crush into small pieces.
You can freeze both of these treats for longer shelf life.

I promise to post the giveaway soon! I've found the camera cord, but wanted to wait until I secured one more item for it! Stay tuned!!!


  1. You've described the joys of having a Senior Golden as well as I've ever heard it. Funny how one day you wake up and you are dancing in perfect step with your Golden treasure. I've raised Goldens from pups and adopted those in need of a fur-ever home, but at this time in my life, raising two puppies would mean trying to duplicate the two perfect pairs I had in the past. No matter how hard I try, that would always be in the back of my mind. Too many senior Goldens have so much to give and so little time. It's so good to hear another story of a beautiful dance. Thanks for making my day.

    KT and Lady too

  2. L -

    As usual, a wonderful entry that makes me miss my Lady dearly and cherish my new memories with Lily. So eloquent! I am sharing this around to all!