Sunday, 6 February 2011

Of Old Labradors, Walkies And Vets.

Is nobody going to take me out?

Come on, it's not raining. Yet!

I am waiting.

Benno was 11 years old at Christmas, which is very elderly for a Labrador. His muzzle and chest are sprinkled with grey and the photo shows that he has lost a lower front tooth. Luckily front teeth are not important to him, he never chews his food, just swallows it whole.

My dear, sweet, best friend and walking companion is getting old; he still runs and chases sticks and loves long rambles, but jumping stiles and five bar gates is more difficult. In fact, he now graciously waits for me to open gates for him when before he sailed over them, no matter how high.  Walking through gates beside cattle grids was for sissies, he cleared them effortlessly from a standing start. Not anymore. Running up and down the Castle Mound doesn't seem to be as much fun as it used to be, either. When I hurl a stick down the bank, he still gamely fetches it up the very steep slope, but only once or twice; the third time he has a rest half-way up and finds it more interesting to lie down and chew his stick for a while, before he comes up the rest of the hill.

Recently, I've noticed several lumps on him, one near a gland in his neck, under the ruff and one on his bottom, which called for visits to the vet. Benno had needles inserted into his neck and fingers poked up his bottom, all very undignified. He is so good that he let it all happen, including a very thorough examination of his spine and legs. The only thing he insists on, on these occasions, is that I stay very close and hold his head and whisper to him.

The diagnosis was only mildly disturbing: although he has arthritis in his spine, which is common in old labradors, the lump in his neck is a fat lump and not dangerous. The lump on his bottom hasn't grown any bigger since I first noticed it, which is also good; a definite diagnosis requires a biopsy, which means hospitalisation and anaesthetics. I can't bear the thought of that.

I am sticking my head in the sand somewhat here; Benno's predecessor, Boris, had cancer in almost the same place, but he died within a few weeks after I noticed the lump. Benno has survived for much longer already, the lump hasn't grown and he still appears to be a healthy and happy dog.

I love that blasted animal.

Damn pets, who needs them, they're such a pain.


  1. smiles. i hope your 'friend' is alright...hang in there mama...

  2. Oh, Friko, my heart goes out to you. One of my "over the rainbow bridge" pups had a huge and inoperable tumor, and I know the worry and the pain of the human who belongs to that pup. Our time with these precious companions is always too short, regardless of the number of years. I'll keep you and Benno in my thoughts. :)

  3. I hope he's fine too and up for many more 'walkies'.

    Chester, aged only 8, has two bad knees. He's a runner and hunter, persecutor of cats and general blasted nuisance but the loveliest dog one could imagine. I know where you are coming from.

    These damn dogs are destined to break our hearts but as Brian says above 'hang in there.'

  4. Yes, a pain in our heart when they go. Benno is very fortunate to be loved so. But, you're right ... who needs them ...

  5. Benno sounds like a very patient, loveable old thing.

  6. It's the winter that has you thinking this way. He's old and lumpy, but no doubt going along pretty well for a seasoned dog. Don't invite the night before the darkness comes.

  7. friko i love "the warning sky" in the second photograph.animals enter our lives with reason and most certainly a place as family members in their own right. so you feel what you feel and i guarantee you that they feel what they feel also. steven

  8. We've had several black labs. They are the most lovable, easy-going animals! They helped raise our children. Give Benno A hug from me please!

  9. Great photo of the coming storm--not to mention those of the handsome Benno: who could resist taking him anywhere when he holds up his leash so winningly? Tough as pets get old. Come to think on it, tough getting old all 'round.

  10. I know the feeling well. He's a lucky dog to have your love and you're a lucky woman to have his. May you keep on enjoying each other for years to come.

    That second image is spectacular.. and so is Benno, of course.

  11. As you know, love leaves one vulnerable. I have three dogs and they are dearly beloved by the kids, and therefore have won a place in my heart. (I'm more of a cat person). The bond that has developed between the kids and dogs is remarkable. I said "They will NEVER sleep on the beds... yeah, right. (not on my bed though - the cat won't have it! :)

    Your Benno is quite the personality, I can tell. And I like the advice above.. don't invite the night before the darkness.

  12. He's got a lovely face and still looks ready for many an excursion yet , of the gentler kind .

  13. That face - beautiful.
    All our dogs had fatty lumps in old age, and after putting the first one through all the rigamarole of biopsy we decided we'd never do that to an old dog again. Rosie lived life fully right to the end - couldn't ask for better for her.
    Keep on having fun with Benno - it sounds like he's having fun with you.

  14. Here's wishing Benno good health, and many more walking days.

  15. Happy and healthy dog, that is what he is. Just enjoy the moments with him as before. Spring seems to be round the corner, nice boost for all of us.

  16. We know, when we acquire our beloved companions, that we are likely to outlive them, but it's always so hard when we are proved right. Your lovely Benno may continue on into very old age as happy as he is now. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best, and continue to enjoy his company.

  17. Your post made me both happy and sad, which shows what a good writer you are. I, like Benno, used to jump over gates and fetch sticks. No more.

  18. Damn pets, who needs them...
    I think you've answered this question very well.

  19. ach ja, dieser treue Freund, lieber Benno!
    Man gewöhnt sich an das Altern des Hundes und passt sich seinen Bedürfnissen an, ohne dass es eine sehr grosse Umstellung wäre. Der Knoten ist sicher nichts Ernsthaftes. Mein Hund bekam auch einige sehr grosse, als er alt wurde (er wurde fast 17!). In seinem Alter sollte man diese genaue Untersuchung aber besser nicht machen, würde ich auf alle Fälle denken. Und was würde es auch bringen? Benno geht es ja gut!
    Ich wünsche Benno alles Gute, natürlich! und bin überzeugt, dass er noch lange an Deiner Seite leben wird (so glücklich und zufrieden wie er aussieht)!
    Hoffentlich ist es bei euch auch so schön sonnig wie bei uns!

  20. Oh Friko Benno is just beautiful, I don't think we could love our wonderful dogs more if we tried, they are so special. As for the lumps, my lovely Grace is full of them now, old dogs (like us humans) do get lumpy and bumpy as we age. I'm sure he's fine, give him a big hug from me x

  21. Oh that Benno has already charmed me, and Friko, I absolutely love your posts that feature him. I would gladly take him out for a walk, even in the rain if that were his choice.

    Please forgive me if you have already posted this, but do you have a puppy photo of Benno?


  22. What a beautiful friend Benno is!!!!!

  23. Know exactly, and I mean e x a c t l y, what you mean. Our oldest lab is a 13 year old lady, deaf and almost blind, with lots of lumps and bumps. She's had them for a couple of years, the vet hummed and tutted at the first ones, and since then she's gained lots of new ones, but I'm ignoring them. She's too old to undergo surgery. Let her just live her life and be happy. Please.
    Last week I noticed a small lump on one of the younger ones' back. She already has one in her neck, diagnosed as a fat lump. The new one feels like a similar one. I'm hoping. Dogs lives are too short. I hate that. I could cry thinking of the inevitable. But I'm not going to. N O T!

    Benno is a very handsome looking guy. A true labrador face. ;-)

  24. Well, Sir Benno is already nearly 80
    in the years of the dog, but he still
    is a gamer, a walker, and a lover.
    Remember aging is not for sissies,
    and I sometimes think that by having
    our "damn" pets, and then losing them,
    this is the way the angels keep us in
    touch with both joy and sorrow in life,
    reminding us that transitions await
    all things--animate and inanimate.
    Our old lady, Taffy, lived to be 13,
    and putting her down was tantamount
    to putting a hit on one of our children.
    Perhaps Boris hovers where only Benno
    can see and hear him, and some day
    in the far off time, they will run as
    spirit brothers on other walks with you.
    And yes, share with us Benno puppy shots.

  25. Oh Friko - we need our companions because they give unconditional love and serve as constant role models of all that a friend should be. Our oldest sheltie is going on 14 & exhibits much of what you describe. The frisbee jumps are far fewer but her face still lights up when you say the word.
    Sending a gentle hug to your Benno...

  26. We invest so much love, care and effort and yes.... worry too, into our animals. But one look into those gorgeous brown eyes and we are lost. Every Blessing to you and Benno.

  27. I love black doggies. My old dog, Ruben (a black wonderful mix of all kinds of dogs), was with me for 13 years. Your description of how Benno is showing his age made me smile and tear up a little bit. As I write this I am looking over at my 9 year old beagle and hoping that she is with me for a good many years yet. Thanks for the post.

  28. You and Benno are in my heart, Friko.

  29. Hello Friko, yes it is unfortunate that pets age more quickly than humans. I've never had one personally (unless you count the goldfish which never seemed to survive my tender ministrations) although I love my step daughter's Jack Russel who is the same age as Benno and has recently developed a heart problem. This apparently is common in small dogs and with the help of medication he is almost back to his old self. We hope he will be around to lap up our love for many years to come - I wish the same for your Benno.

  30. oh,
    I can't imagine.

    but as I glance over at my Diesel, of course I can.
    so sorry.

    but all of that love... it is worth it.

  31. What a heartfelt and gentle story about your beautiful Benno. He's a part of your family and will live forever in your heart. Not to mention the hearts of many of your followers. As I have only recently discovered you, I had never met him before. My loss.

  32. This might be why I do not have a dog. It's hard enough when the cat declines in front of my eyes and in my arms. I may be a cat person, but the death of a dog breaks my heart.
    Hang in there, Benno! Friko needs you.

  33. Thanks for the visit and nice comments :) Our old lab Buster turns 12 soon. He is very very old all of a sudden, much as you describe your dog. You just absolutely love them so much....

  34. Sorry to hear of the need for vet visits. I like you try to take in the quality, rather than putting my pals through the trauma of hospitals or anestethics, and what reality without could bring. You are both in my thoughts, this can be such a precious, but difficult time.

  35. I understand so well your feelings. It's so unfair that our best and most faithful friends cannot live longer lives. I hope Benno will continue well and healthy, your beautiful boy.

  36. What a heartfelt story of Benno's old age. He is still a beautiful dog, isn't he? I know how you feel. It is so difficult, worrying about a beloved pet and wondering what to do.
    -- K


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