What makes any of us lucky enough to have a dog that we love in our lives well into their senior years? If only there were a simple answer. Dogs that we love are never in our lives long enough.
Our Kerry Blue Terrier D'Annie (pronounced Danny) was born in our kitchen on November 9, 2001. She is now 15-1/2 and counting. Physically she is in great condition. Her biggest issue at the moment is cataracts, but she is bouncy and full of life. I do know that her longevity is in part due to genetics: three of her dam's littermates lived to be 16.
When D'Annie was born, I chose to follow the vaccine protocol of Jean Dodds. [Editor's note: Dr. Dodds, a researcher with a world-wide reputation, is a member of the KBTF Board of Directors.] That continued throughout her life, and she has never been over-vaccinated.
I am also a long time raw feeder. I became a big believer in that way of feeding when one of our Kerries, Ren (D'Annie's dam), was diagnosed with Inflammatory
Bowel Disease or IBD, an auto immune issue, at 4 years of age. Since the prescribed treatment for her would have been prednisone, pepcid and metronidazole
for the rest of her life, I had serious concerns, particularly about the prednisone. I decided to give raw feeding a try. Over time, we were able
to stop all Ren's medications. Because of this, I decided to switch all my dogs to raw foods. We have never looked back, and all of my kerries
are very healthy. (Please note that there there are many kinds of IBD, and they can very in severity. I am no way suggesting raw feeding can cure
but it worked for us).
All of our dogs have always gotten a lot of exercise daily. Up until last year we had a home with 3-1/2 fenced-in acres to run on. We have now retired to a smaller home with a smaller fenced yard, so I leash walk my dogs. D'Annie is walked daily with her constant adoring companion Mulligan (a 2003 KBTF rescue), who will turn 13 next week. Our vet is always commenting on what great physical condition both of these guys are for their ages.
I think Mulligan has gravitated toward D'Annie because she is very self assured, and very gentle. Mulligan is fear-reactive toward dogs he doesn't know, and because of his total lack of early socialization due to his puppy mill background, he can be quite unsure of himself. As a little guy, he used to follow our male Kerry Tank around to learn from him. With Tank long gone, D'Annie is the friend of choice. We have two other dogs, a 10 year old Kerry girl named Tiger , and a rescue Bearded Collie male who is eight named Pepper. Everyone gets along, but D'Annie and Mulligan are a team. I have always thought the day we lose D'Annie, Mulligan won't be far behind. Time will tell.
D'Annie has long been the alpha dog in our home, but she is a sweetheart. Her favorite treat has always been fresh raspberries, earning her the nickname "Raspberry Roo," since she also loves to roo, mostly with a beloved toy in her mouth.
In her lifetime, the medical conditions she has had are hypothyroidism, one bout of pancreatitis, and ear tip vasculitus. As an older girl, she has issues with reflux, which we treat with medication and smaller meals through out the day. And she has cataracts.
I know that every day is a gift at this stage of D'Annie's life. She is the oldest dog I ever had the pleasure to live with and love. Mulligan is counting on her living a lot longer, as are my husband and I. She is delight of a Kerry Blue Terrier. Go D'Annie!
D'Annie (left) and Mulligan sharing a bed.