An Open Letter to the Parent of a Senior Pet

I never thought watching a pet grow old would be easy but the reality is so much more bittersweet than I ever imagined. On the one hand, I am grateful for each day knowing there are too many pets - especially Scottish Terriers - who don't live long enough to experience the golden years. I celebrate this feat and honor those who couldn't stay with us longer by doing my best to make the most of every day I have with my senior pets so when that inevitable day comes, they truly can rest in peace and I might find some small consolation in the fact that I helped them live a life well-lived. 

While a part of me rejoices over the good fortune that has allowed me years of companionship, there's another part of me that frets about what is coming next and when. I'm sure you've felt this, too. Though our senior pets slow down with age, it is as if time speeds up during the golden years. Some days, I feel as though I'm looking at an hourglass - only the grains of sand remaining are invisible and only can be seen once they pass through to the bottom half. It takes effort to put these thoughts aside and refocus on what matters most: the senior pets right in front of us.  

In some ways, the learning curve of caring for a senior pet is steep (new routines and schedules, medications, more frequent vet visits, etc.) but in other ways, it remains exactly the same. After all, it boils down to what most pet parents do best: love and care. You get the hang of your senior pet's lifestyle soon enough and though I can't promise things will be fun and games always, I can assure you there will be ample opportunity to laugh, create new memories and add some color to those years that otherwise might not have looked so golden.

Yes, things can get hairy and even a little scary at times. I tell you this not to discourage you but to keep you strong for the sake of your senior pets. It is an honor and a privilege to be there for them in ways they have been and will be for you and others whose lives they've touched throughout the years. At times, you may question your strength or think it is simply too hard to care for a senior pet - to which I say: think again. Giving up on a senior pet is all too common and has devastating effects, as evidenced by the thousands of overcrowded shelters across the country.

To know the love of a senior pet is to know the love of an old friend, one that sweetens with age. You can see it in the way they soak up the last bits of sun at the end of a summer day, how they savor all things that taste good and when their eyes brighten the moment they see you. These are the imprints a senior pet will leave on your heart long after he or she is gone. And you'll find yourself a more complete person as a result of having loved and cared for a senior pet who taught you to practice gratitude, enjoy the little things, show each other a little grace and live every day as if it was your last. 


  1. I loved my senior boy and I worried as he approached his senior years, then he developed high liver enzymes and all too suddenly was taken from me and I would have given anything to have had more years with him! You are absolutely right, every day is a blessing and I hearken to Garth Brook's song "the Dance" : Yes my life is better left to chance, I could have missed the pain, bu I'd have had to miss the dance". I would not have missed those 8.5 years for anything!!!

  2. Thank you, I needed this today. Our darling cairn, Harley, is now blind and has "doggy dementia". His scottie little brother doesn't understand why his big bro doesn't want to play any more, but he has also settled down from his puppyhood and is now keeping an eye out for his old bro. We are so sad to see our old friend slip away from us, but now we celebrate things we might have taken for granted- a walk outside, no matter how short, a smiling face turned up to listen to us, and best of all, a wagging tail. Saying good-bye is not easy, but since hubby and I are both getting up there in years, we know we are all on the same journey and will some day be together as a family.

  3. One has to get over the feeling of helplessness and just enjoy them. That day comes and you'll not be able to to anything more. You have to think that it's part of life and you are powerless to even save yourself.

  4. I considered it a privilege to look after my companions ~ they had stayed by my side when I was sick ~ they had made me the center of their universe and given me all the love they had. Why would I not want to ease their way.
    Sweet William The Scot

  5. I found that it was a gift I could give to my fur friend after all the gifts that they have given me over the years. I was glad to be able to help in their golden years.

  6. I was surprised how fast Chloe's health changed. Once I realized what her limitations were we could move on and enjoy the activities she can do and enjoy. My heart sings when she shows her excitement about little joys. She continues to give so much love to us as we cherish her.
    Life is a joyful journey with our special scottie girl.