Do you have a Veteran who loved being part of the action?  I need to share this story, on behalf of our old ones.

I took Parker to the regional specialty, as planned.  I gave him his bath the day ahead, spent less time grooming him to be sure that I didn’t overtax him, packed and loaded the trailer on Friday, gave Jade her bath, and by the time I left, there was no way that I could make it in time for Veterans class.  Life gets in the way of fun sometimes, and commitments have to be met.  Otherwise I would have left a day earlier.

It’s not easy to show multiple dogs, and you have to cut corners on time when necessary to manage your schedule.  That’s understandable.  But Parker is making it clear that some priorities need to be negotiated.  My Newfs have taught me the importance of negotiation and listening, over the years, and I find that their communication skills are very good.  It’s not that they can always get the outcome they desire from a negotiation, but if you don’t try to understand, you won’t learn the potential benefit.

When we had left the previous regional, Parker had been deflated as he saw that we were leaving without him being a part of the activity.  He goes with me everywhere I go that I can take dogs, but since un-entered dogs aren’t allowed inside, he didn’t get to be in on the activities and in the company of other Newfs.  Someone suggested that I enter him in Veterans for the next show.  He has a limp, and at this time he has a big bald spot on his rear, but I entered him for the joy it would give him to participate.  One thing is abundantly clear about Newfs:  joy is contagious, and it is easily shared.

When we arrived at the show site, I found a friend and asked her to hold Parker at ringside while I showed Jade, so he could still be in the activity.  He enjoyed visiting with people and watching the Newfs in the ring.  I know he would have enjoyed being in the ring, and hope to get another chance in the near future.  He also got to visit outside the ring the next day, and as usual he fully enjoyed being outside at the trailer while we were grooming and other dogs and people were walking past.  Parker grew up with a Landseer as well as other blacks, so when he saw a Border Collie passing by, he became very excited.  For Parker, dog shows are a social sport.  Newfs recognize other Newfs and tend to be happy to be among their own kind.

We arrived home at around 4 p.m., and Jade bounded out to find her kitties.  Parker wouldn’t budge.  He stayed in the van, staging a peaceful protest.  I started unloading the trailer, thinking he would decide on his own to come in when he was ready.  Jade saw what he was doing and joined the protest.  The two of them laid side-by-side on the van floor, facing outward with the two side doors open, while I finished unloading the trailer and the van, started laundry, opened a gate for Greg to move hay, and went inside to start dinner.  It was after dark, so I went back out with leashes and brought Parker out of the van, unwilling in spirit still but not with further protest.  He didn’t want the party to be over, and today he still has the Party’s Over Blues.

When I took Jade to conformation classes, I would take Parker in for part of that time, just because he enjoyed it so much.  When I quit going, I didn’t need the reminder on my schedule that pops up on Tuesdays saying that it was time to leave for class.  Something similar happened with my pony when he was in his 30s.  My nephew brought his kids over, ages 6 and 1, and a highlight of visiting was to let the kids ride Midnight (a family legend).  Midnight loved doing things together and accepted all challenges with enthusiasm.  I sat the 6-year-old on him and put Midnight on a lunge line.  It surprised me how much he perked up and showed with joy how well he could do what I asked.  He had missed the opportunity to perform and the participation more than I had realized, and the simple act of performing on a lunge line did wonders for him.  It’s too easy to lose awareness of this as they age.

I will do something today to cheer up the Newfs, but the fully underscored point that I wanted to share was this:  Find something to do with your old ones to keeps them involved.  As with all senior citizens, social activity and family are very important for joy and well-being in life.

I’m not posting this story to make anyone feel badly, but to help increase awareness so you may do more with your seniors and can share the joy.  For those whose Newfs loved showing, honor them while they’re still here by putting them in a Veterans class.  I sometimes wish there were a senior class that gave the same ribbon to all entrants, like some kids programs.

There are a lot of things that seniors can do.  They may enjoy visiting the bell-ringers at Christmas, or simply taking a short walk with their beloved human or as a group with other Newfs or other dogs.  Newfs seem to especially enjoy getting to be around other Newfs when that is possible.  Parker still likes to play Stick, just the two of us, in the yard – no more high-tilt racing after the stick, doing backflips to get it before it “disappears”, but finding it amid the leaves and grass and proudly carrying the prize.  In heart and spirit, they aren’t as old as you may think.

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2 Responses to PART OF THE PARTY

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