10 March, 2017
I look at aging in a pretty simple way, having the same view for humans and dogs, that it's all a matter of perspective. I know people who age with the expectation for terrible things and low and behold terrible things would happen. Why can't we all be more like Betty White? Always smiling, always showcasing a positive attitude towards life and emitting incredible energy and spirit, Betty White is a perfect example of how we should approach the golden years for ourselves and our dogs.
Not only is Betty still acting, but she spends a good portion of her time helping animals, something she has been heavily involved in for more than 40 years, contributing both her time and money to many worthy causes, organizations as well as research. Never idle, Betty is not only constantly doing, but she is doing everything with enthusiasm even at 95 years of age. I wholeheartedly believe her energy and attitude is directly responsible for how well she defies age. By finding humor in everything, she never takes life too seriously and her healthy, happy life is a testament to how well this philosophy works.
Step 1 - It Starts with Us
"It's your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don't take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver." Betty White
I believe that having the right mindset can help not just us personally, but also those around us including our dogs, so in order to help our dogs age like Betty White, we need to be like Betty White ourselves. We need to look at life through a similar lens and find humor, fun and happiness is everything around us. We need to expect the best case scenario and not the worst.
Having devoted my life to dogs, in particular seniors, I have learned a great deal about how our dogs react to the energy we emit. If we are angry, sad, frustrated or stressed they feel this negative energy and it impacts them in a negative way. If we are happy, positive and relaxed they feel that as well and you will see how they feed off of this. I can't think of a more important time to adopt a positive energy-filled lifestyle than when we are taking care of senior dogs.
A big reason people look at getting older in a negative way is because there is an expectation of poor health and overall decline. And while age will inevitably take its toll, I do wish people would recognize the power we hold inside us to slow down the decline, so we can live life to its fullest like Betty White. By learning to maintain a positive perspective as we age then we can in turn help our senior dogs embrace a similar outlook as they move through their golden years.
Step 2 - Embrace Change
"I'm a big cockeyed optimist. I try to accentuate the positive as opposed to the negative." Betty White
It is up to us as pet parents to see this stage of our dog's life as a very special time. Instead of seeing all the things your dog can no longer do, start noticing all the ways your dog does things differently. You will be amazed at how your dog adapts and if he/she sees that you react with joy and happiness, this will continue to motivate them to keep trying. If we give up or start feeling sorry for our dogs, how do you think they will respond? If we stop being active because we assume our dog can no longer be active, what do you think that will do to both their mental and physical state?
I personally find my dog's golden years to be a fascinating and entertaining time. I love seeing how they change and finding new ways for us to enjoy our time together. The adventures can still continue, we just need to change how we pursue them and you will see how much fun still remains.
For example your dog may not be able to walk long distances any more but may thrive on getting out of the house, so why not try a dog stroller? Give them a chance to still enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the outdoors. They can walk for as long as they can and then ride when they need a break, but in the end you have injected fun and adventure into their life. You may even find that you are getting more exercise as a result and this in turn helps you to live a healthier lifestyle as well.
Step 3 - Have Some Fun
"Love your pet every day throughout your life." Betty White (@)
Start sharing photos and videos of your senior dog on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. If you already do then start sharing even more! Get creative. You'd be amazed at how fun this can be for you and your dog. As you are thinking of cute and humorous ways to capture your senior dog's behavior for others to enjoy, you will find yourself having a blast with your dog in the process. It changes your mindset so instead of being sad and inactive, you may find yourself doing more with your dog than ever before.
The more you share about your older dog, the more you see a million ways that they are so special. The thought that goes into picture taking helps you appreciate your dog on so many levels that you may have once never considered. I find myself noticing such small and wonderful details about my dogs which I try to capture and share. From how adorable their little gray faces become, to how they light up when they go for a ride in their Dogger or the car. The way they savor their food and drinks of water, the way they intensely stare at me watching my every move and the endless trust they place in me as I care for them.
I cannot express to you how special every moment becomes when you see them through the right lens. And like Betty White has taught us, it's good to laugh and our senior dogs do some hilarious things, so enjoy this time together with a smile not a frown. Stay active so they will stay active, stay positive so they will stay positive and be happy so you can all experience wonderful times together regardless of age.
Thank you Betty White, you are an inspiration to us all.
Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.