Super Seniors-the reward

I really wasn’t sure how it was going to play out a few months ago when I welcomed two old dogs with health issues into our home. Would it be too much to take on? Would I be able to help them? Will it become a waiting game?  Could I go through this again?  I was so grateful to have more time with Kipling that last year, but it rattled me and broke my heart.

When my daughter was young, she could sit for hours cleaning and polishing stones she found in the dirt. Bringing out their beauty was her reward. Like mother, like daughter, we both love to bring  the best out in things. For her it’s a visual satisfaction, but for me there is an emotional reward. My heart broke knowing that these boys lost their homes so late in life.  I was determined to help them live their last stretch as bright as possible.

Zak came to me suffering from nightly incontinence. He was overweight, depressed and aloof. Kiefer came here also depressed, as well as itchy, bald, smelly and greasy. And he was afraid he wouldn’t get his needs met.

So here we are after a lot of “polishing”.

Kiefer is eating real food for the first time in 11 years. His hair has started to grow back and is less greasy. The last time he barked at me, he realized I understood what he needed. He smiled and wagged his tail enthusiastically.  He is trusting the flow.

Zak has improved, too. He lost weight, his digestion is great, and best of all he is much more animated.  Every morning he bounces through the air as he heads outside. On a really good day he might even attempt a twirl.  Quite a difference from the old man who puttered into my home a few months ago.

I know that when someone feels good, they are more likely to be tender towards others. Last night as I watched the unbearable news about the Texas school children, tears quietly ran down my face.  Zak, out of character, leapt onto the couch and slid into the tiny spot next to me. He hugged his body perfectly around mine, looked up into my eyes and licked my face over and over again.  It was such an unexpected act of compassion.

The journey with these boys will play out as it will, but for now I have been greatly rewarded.

Super Seniors-Paloma


Have I mentioned that I also have Paloma?

She will be 14 in July. She was born and raised here. She was always my first choice for bringing on vacation due to her love of the water and all things outdoorsy.  Oh, and also because she walks beautifully on leash.

Paloma is in good shape for her age. She is a bit stiff and chooses not to do stairs anymore. Her hearing is certainly diminished. In her younger days, when I called her she’d stop on a dime and run back to me. Now I call her-many times- and eventually she looks over at me. She’s in no hurry about anything.

I’ve fed her raw food for a long time now. I am now supplementing her diet with deer velvet and green lipped mussels. I’m not sure if I am seeing any difference. But in the mean time she has a sparkle in her eyes, and when I let her into the living room for a nap on the couch before breakfast, I almost hear her giggle.

I love that girl. She is all soul.

Super Senior-Zak

Zak walked slowly through my front door with his head down, as his previous pet parents brought in his very well-worn bed, a bag of food, and a large medley of meds.

Molly’s eyes were misty as she said her good byes. This was emotionally tough for everyone involved.

I remember him when he was a young enthusiastic dog. Never have I met a gentler dog. He came from a breeder out west when he was a few years old and lived here at Berkshire Hills for a while before moving to his home with Jon. He, like most of my determined and clever males, couldn’t stay here with all of the girls so he needed to go into a guardian home. We didn’t want any accidental breedings.

While he was living with us, twelve years ago, I often saw Zak cheek to cheek with some guy who was repairing something around the property. Zak was a zen boy and loved nudging people with his nose to get some snuggles.

My hope for Zak at 14 years old is simply for him to feel better physically, but even more so, I want to see some joy in him.

Super Senior-Zak

Zak has been here for a week now. Jon described him as aloof, but to me he was clearly depressed and probably in some pain. He lost the sparkle in his eyes. I saw that same thing with Kipling, my old guy, and realized it was a sign of pain. For Kipling it was his arthritis, and once dealt with the sparkle came back.


Zak was on a daily pain killer, along with fish oil, Dasuquin and Prozac. He was put on Prozac because Jon felt Zak was anxious. He had been chewing things around the house and getting into the garbage.  I know that chewing is a self-soothing activity and was sure Zak was frustrated with his changing situation and once here the chewing would stop. So, I weaned him off the Prozac.

And as with all my dogs, Zak was also put on a raw diet for one of his meals. So now, there are 9 dogs in the house that howl in great anticipation as I prepare their meal! I’ve been contemplating getting a pair of ear plugs.

I’m beginning to see subtle signs of joy, a slow tail wag here and there, a few deep and silent snuggles into my neck. He loves a good neck massage.

Super Senior-Kiefer


Grindstone!” Robert would shout, and Kiefer would put his nose to Robert’s out stretched hand! Robert never used an expected command, which made people laugh!

If Kiefer wasn’t home keeping Linda company, he could be found greeting guests at Robert’s photography gallery down the road. Kiefer had many friends there.

Kiefer deserves to be remembered for his whole life, not just the last leg of it. And to this day he has the softest and the sweetest eye-contact. Robert and Kiefer were a team. First in agility, and then as a therapy team for a children’s reading program at their local library.

Kiefer’s owners could no longer care for him, due to their own senior challenges. So he arrived here at Berkshire Hills six weeks ago.

The Super Senior Project

Caring for our older dogs

Suddenly, I took in two new senior dogs, and that’s in addition to three other seniors that grew up here, plus three younger dogs. With so many older dogs under one roof, and with the generous contributions and volunteering from the wonderful Berkshire Hills community, we have the perfect situation to find out what helps these sweet souls to:

  • feel comfortable
  • enjoy life
  • stay as healthy as they can
  • and make the final decisions about end of life.

My eyes just got misty writing those last words. I’ll talk about that, too.

I hope our discoveries will help you


Super Senior Project-Kiefer


Kiefer’s challenges

Having recently turned 14,  Kiefer strolled into my house and made himself at home. I could see his skeleton through his thinning hair. Large patches of his coat were missing from his legs and hips, and what hair he did have was very greasy. No one wanted to touch him because their  hands would end up with a thick layer of  yeasty smelling grease.

“BOOF, BOOF, BOOF”. He barks at me to make sure he knows where I am. He barks at me if he needs something or even if he doesn’t know what he needs…he barks at me all day and evening,

His challenges are now my challenges. What makes him comfortable, what makes him happy, can he get healthier, how to get people to want to touch him? What helps with the barking, can his diet improve, will supplements and bodywork help him feel better?

He is such a sweet soul. This is his journey.

Super Senior- Kiefer

Addressing Kiefer’s Needs


Kiefer looked at his lard covered prescription kibble and took a small bite. He gave me a look, like, “omg, not this again.” He ate about half a cup, not enough to sustain him.

Sadly, he went down the typical allergy rabbit hole when he was young. He was put on a prescription kibble and immune suppressing allergy pills for all of his life. The previous owner said that none of this helped his allergies. Well, I thought, if they aren’t working, why give them? So I stopped giving him Apoquel.

He looked up with sad puppy eyes when he smelled the real food I gave my dogs.  He’s starving, I thought, what’s the worse that can happen if I give him organic raw beef, chicken and duck with offal and ground bones?  I figured if the kibble wasn’t helping him thrive anyway, why not at least give him a delicious taste pleasure? I wasn’t expecting any miracles, I just wanted him to enjoy what time he has.

To my surprise, he didn’t have any allergic reaction to raw meat. The itching stopped, his coat became less greasy, and he had more energy. Is it possible he could have been eating real food all along?