Female, 17½ years old
Tassie aged 14
In July 2018 we took a phone call from a lady who was going to have to go to Australia very soon as her mother had dementia and she needed to go back home to sort things out, but she had a dog that she had had from an 8 week old puppy and did know what to do. She was not sure how long she would be gone or when she would be coming back so she was asking us to re-home her dog if possible.
The dog a liver spotted spayed bitch named Tassie had some health problems, cataracts in both eyes also on Propalin syrup for incontinence and she was going a bit deaf as well as arthritis and other things that older dogs just get. We were not sure if we could find someone to take her – being an elderly dog with known conditions pet insurance would not pay for these so we said that we would pay for whatever she needed health wise to give her as comfortable a life to the end of her days.
We always have people waiting for a dog and we had not had her on ‘the books’ for very long before she was offered to some ladies who had refused a dog that had been offered to them. The offered dog had too many behavioural problems – they were experienced owners but did not want another one with those sorts of issues! By chance in passing as we chatted we mentioned about Tassie and to our great surprise they jumped at the chance to have her.
As part of the process of rehoming a dog we contacted Tassie’s vets to get as much information about the dogs health as possible and what medications she was on. We managed to get a couple of photos of her as well. One of our volunteers went to assess Tassie for rehoming and then a date was agreed for her to be collected from her home. It was several weeks later when the new owners collected Tassie from her home and met the owner. Tassie was a nice dog and they were pleased to pick her up.
A few days later she was very much finding her feet and getting around their house and garden despite the cataracts and limited eyesight. After a few days the new owners took her to their vets – we had set up with them that we would pay any invoices for any treatment or medications needed and this was done. Routine health checks were carried out and most of what was known about her health was confirmed there were a couple of other issues, an occasional cough and a sore on her chest that did not seem to heal up. Tassie had some routine blood tests and their vet wanted to send her to someone who would take a good look at Tassie’s eyes so that a full assessment could be made. In the meantime she was enjoying her walks and had very much settled down with them.
The vet subsequently confirmed that Tassie did have cataracts in both eyes but complicated by the fact that she also has corneal ulcers so she was put on 2 lots of eye cream. And for the sore on her chest she also had a non-steroid anti-inflammatory cream and was on a course of antibiotics. The blood test said that she was a little anaemic and had raised white blood cells probably because of the sore on her chest. Tassie had previously had lung worm and bronchitis so that explained the slight cough. She would have an x ray later on if necessary. Tassie continued to settle well and was a lovely old lady and the new owners were pleased to have her.
A few weeks later Tassie was continuing on both the antibiotics and eye drops. Their vet was concerned that the sore on her chest may need to be removed surgically, it had responded a little to the antibiotics but the skin is very fragile and was breaking down. The vet also wanted a specialist opinion on the eyes as they were not responding as well to the eye medication as she hoped. Tassie has 2 small warts on her left eye and also there was still some ulceration and some inversion of eye lashes adding to her discomfort.
Their vet was very mindful of the potential cost to our charity and Tassie’s age but felt it would be beneficial to get a second opinion to rule any underlying condition and have an action plan with the aim of making Tassie as comfortable as possible. the vet was hoping to be able to combine a number of procedures under one general anaesthetic if necessary. Tassie continued to be a delight and a stoic little lady with all the examinations and procedures.
The second opinion on her was carried out and a report given to her new owners and us about the condition of her eyes so that the eye problem – called endothelial degeneration corneal oedema was confirmed – the consultant said that an operation on her eyes might be necessary, this type of operation was called thermokeratoplasty and it involved dealing with the ulcers that form on the eye to make the eyes more comfortable. The lump on her chest was nothing sinister and it was going to be removed at the same time when/if she had any operation for her eyes. She continues to do well and her new owners have written a few lines below.
The Joys of taking on an older dog – Tassie
‘There is no puppy training, no jumping on the sofa, no being dragged off your feet or across muddy fields. The exercise is sedate, pleasant and very enjoyable, but like any Dalmatian be prepared to be kept on your toes just in case you become complacent they can still run or see that slice of bread under the hedge. There is no unnecessary barking, no need really because she has already trained you to know what she wants within hours of arriving!
Like a lot of elderly folk she is stoic, resilient and adaptable having always lived in a city – Sydney and London she was more used to walking on pavements and in parks, she is now thriving and enjoying the new smells of the countryside where we live. It was a pure delight to see her explore a local meadow full of rabbit holes and cows, she looked at these big beasts with curiosity only and did not roll in any of the numerous cow pats, unlike our previous Dalmatian who thought it was the reason one went for a walk!
Despite having age related problems with eyesight and hearing she very quickly mapped out the house and garden in her mind and can be regularly found checking out how well the cucumbers are growing in the greenhouse.
She was quicker than any pup in knowing where he food bowl was. The deafness appears to be sometimes selective as she can hear the lid of the treat tin being lifted without any difficulty.
We gave her a selection of beds to see which suited her best given her age, 14 we wanted her to be comfortable she selected a vet mat in front of the fire place which has flickering lights in, we are sure she thinks it is a real fire and sinks down in front of it with a contented sigh and snores the evening away.
No doubt she does need care and attention like any other older folk but it is a pleasure to give and is warmly rewarded by a lick or just a look. Everyone delights in seeing a Dalmatian but being a senior lady with brown spotty ears seems to attract even more attention. She is always happy and willing to stop and be admired when out walking. Even the postman loves her and stops to say hello and fuss her. How lucky are we to have her in our lives.’
So an elderly dog that two people have taken into their home and their hearts getting pleasure from having her and we are happy to help to give her as comfortable life as is possible – because that’s what our charity and all the volunteers are only too pleased to do and knowing that we will help rehome a dog of whatever aged which may have health conditions for which treatment is required