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What senior dogs think about death

What senior dogs have told animal communicator, Terri O’Hara about death.

After working for sixteen years with thousands of families, I’ve found the most common request for help is to assess senior animals and their quality of life. I have assisted over 500 senior dogs by being their voice to the best of my abilities. I’m always impressed when they share how they are doing in their old dog body. Routinely, when I ask how they feel, I hear a common and powerful message … life is good!
That truly is their motto.

Animals are very skillful at living in the present moment. They don’t worry about the past or fret about the future. Although their past can affect their behaviors, they are not thinking about it over and over the way humans do. They are living in the now and encourage you to join them. Often, senior dogs find it disturbing when their human companion is worried or anxious about his or her state of being. They wonder why people focus on what might happen in the future rather that what is currently occurring. Your dog’s desire is to encourage you to concentrate on the fun you could be having together, rather than on being upset unnecessarily. He thinks in the positive and does his best to get you there, too. Perhaps he brings you toys, nudges your arm, or looks soulfully into your eyes. His message to you is stick to the moment.

Animals are very capable of removing their awareness from the area that hurts. They look away from the pain, so to speak, and instead focus on what feels good. This isn’t the same as denial. They simply take their consciousness elsewhere. If a human hurts her elbow, she tells people about it all week long. If a dog hurts her elbow, she immediately figures out ways to play and have fun on her other three legs. Dogs are not just being stoic with their pain, they are being practical. This does not mean that they never feel pain. They simply don’t dwell on it.

Moving on to an important topic…
Within the loving relationship between you and your dog lies the reality that he or she will leave some day. No one likes to think about it ahead of time, but when the senior years approach, death becomes a glaring certainty. Dying is very difficult to contemplate for humans. This is not usually so for dogs. They do not fear their impending transition. Instead, they embrace it.

Animals teach that death is a process. Aching joints, weakening muscles, and digestive issues are common occurrences for elder dogs. Illnesses can also be components of preparing for end of life. Although they can be challenging for both of you, physical changes are a necessary part of the experience. This process allows your dog to slow down and accept the deterioration of his body so he can begin to welcome the completion of his life. A senior dog does not view a disease as a problem. She embraces anything and everything as a part of her journey. Through my experience, dogs have shown me that they gracefully accept all that is going on within their bodies.

I regularly tell clients with elder animals, “Death isn’t always easy and it isn’t always pretty, but it can be peaceful and wonderful.” Years ago, when I said this during a public presentation, a woman called out from the audience: “Neither is giving birth, but that’s beautiful too!” This says it all in a nutshell. We must remember that the journey of life for every being has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A birth, a life, a death. Your dog
knows this. She is not upset that her life will end, but rather is living life to its fullest until her body simply can no longer go on.

When it is too difficult to be in the ailing body, your dog will embrace her state of being and allow her death process to occur. Dogs are not afraid to die. So, if you are worried about your dog’s death, or you are afraid about life without your dog, be sure to acknowledge that these are your feelings. Be careful to not project
them onto your canine friend. Always be honest with your beloved dog, because he already knows what you are thinking and feeling. He can read your thoughts, emotions, and  intentions. Don’t try to pretend, it will only cause upset and confusion.

Written by

Jennifer Kachnic is the President of The Grey Muzzle Organization. She owns Canine Wellness, LLC in Colorado and is the author of the award winning book Your Dog's Golden Years.

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