Health Lessons from an Old Dog
Last week our Golden Retriever, Divot, turned 14 and she had a wild and crazy birthday.
It began with a lunchtime party with the Grandtoys, who simply love to have dog parties. I barbecued chicken legs. The wind blew the aluminum foil cover off the pan and Divot gobbled down a chunk of the chicken-skin-flavoured foil before I could stop her.
Peanut butter on rice cakes is her usual birthday fare but this year it was leftover blueberry pancakes with peanut butter. And my Grandtoy had put so much peanut butter on the pancake it stuck to the roof of Divot’s mouth. So funny as she struggled to suck it off! See video of Divot’s party. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSPwqV3D8V8&feature=youtu.be
Finally, Divot and my husband went to see an old friend, Betty, who fed Divot most of a bag of popcorn. Later while hubby was sitting at the table with Betty he heard a slurping sound from the living room. There he found Divot’s nose in a box of chocolates. He dug some out of her mouth and deduced she may have swallowed one or two. Not the end of the world.
As you can see Divot still behaves like a puppy. She has slowed down in some ways: our walks are often strolls. She can no longer jump into the truck; in fact, she can’t even put her paws up to boost herself. She sleeps most of the day.
But the tiniest sign that we’re ready to walk: I brush my teeth, get my phone, ensure I have my Epi-Pen, put on my shoes, any one of those signs gets her excited about our walk. She bounds off the back porch like a puppy. Divot loves people and is happy to greet others as we walk around our neighbourhood, canines less enthusiastically than humans. Her pace going is faster than coming home, something she’s always done, anything to prolong the walk.
We are privileged to have Divot in our lives for 14 healthy years. Divot is our living experiment. When she was ten weeks old we decided to feed her a diet that was more in keeping with her nature. As a descendent of wolves, we knew she would thrive on a wolf-like diet.
Since then she has eaten almost all raw food. Her typical meal consists of ½ cup raw meat, ½ cup cooked brown rice, ½ cup raw veggies like carrot or cucumber. She gets garlic and parsley; she gets fish, olive and coconut oils and some other supplements. An integral part of her diet is the raw beef soup bones she has two or three times each week. They keep her mouth healthy and her teeth cleaned. She has all her teeth and they’re not black, as is expected by this age.
Despite losing most of her hearing and some of her sight, Divot has had few health issues. Apart from some antibiotics for ear infections from swimming in the Bow River, she has taken no medications. At two years old we removed a large wart from her paw. No diabetes, epilepsy or other modern dog ailments. She is not obese and she has never stunk, like most dogs do.
Divot has lived two years longer, so far, than the long range for her breed. We think it’s her diet and lifestyle. If it works for a dog, it should work for humans.
So here is what I recommend based on Divot’s fine example. Eat whole, real food, suitable to your species as much as possible. Not too much. Drink plenty of water. Exercise everyday. Sleep lots. Play whenever you can. Surround yourself with people you love and choose to be happy.
If Divot were a human she’d be pushing 100. And I’ve just shared the secrets to her longevity!