Most of the time when people look at Belle, they assume she’s about one or two years old. And that’s very understandable because she’s pretty white considering that she’s a Golden Retriever. Usually, you can tell a Goldie is getting older when the fur on their face is a lighter shade than their coat.
So when I tell people that Belle is 11 years old, they get very shocked and they usually say something like “wow she looks great for her age!”
Of course, when you take a closer look, you can tell that Belle’s getting behind her years because her legs aren’t as steady as before and she gets out of breath after long walks or even after a trip to the park.
As Belle got older, one of the biggest changes would be her diet. The food (dry and wet) she eats now is catered towards senior dogs and the vet has advised me to not give her as many treats as before. Which is a good thing because it’s extremely important for senior dogs to not be overweight otherwise it’ll be a big strain on their bones and limbs.
Apart from her food, I also give her her daily dose of Glucosamine soft chews. It definitely helps her limbs because she still enjoys walking (sometimes running) up and down the stairs in my house.
When it comes to bringing Belle out, I guess the important thing to take note of is when she lags behind me because she’s always on my left. I usually take that as a sign that she’s had enough exercise for the day. Sometimes I bring Belle out to the pool as well because swimming is definitely less taxing on Belle’s limbs as compared to walking. It’s a great form of exercise for her too because she usually sleeps like a log the minute we get back home.
Of course, when Belle gets too tired to walk anymore, she immediately lies down on the ground and only moves after a lot of encouragement. That’s when I step in and carry 23kg of fur, bones and flesh.
Grooming-wise, not much has changed to be honest. Every 6 to 7 weeks, I send Belle to the groomer’s where she gets her fur and nails trimmed and she comes back smelling like flowers. It’s also important to do daily maintenance as well. For example, cleaning her ears every night after a walk will help to prevent ear infections.
On top of everything mentioned above, I think the most important thing is to still shower a lot of love to your dogs. Everyday I still smother Belle with loads of hugs, kisses and baby talk. Everyday she would get up (even if she’s sleeping) when she hears me call her name and walk towards me to greet me. When I first got Belle back in 2010 when I was only 14, I never thought too far in the future about her as an older dog; all I wanted was to have fun with her everyday. Now that I’m older and more aware, I know that one day I’ll have to say goodbye to her. But in the meantime, I’m still going to spoil her rotten because to me, she’s still my best friend and the number 1 Goldie in the world.