This is a special bonus episode of The Bitey End of the Dog that is a bit off-season for the show since I typically launch each season in the beginning of each Summer, but I couldn’t resist when my friend Helen St. Pierre wanted to talk about old, senior dogs, which is a topic that isn’t talked about enough.
Helen runs Old Dogs Go to Helen, a non-profit organization that cares for senior or hospice dogs, and all the considerations that go into running such a wonderful cause. We chat about their care and behavior considerations, including aggression, or lack there of, but one of the highlights of this episode for me was learning what Helen does to navigate the emotions of saying goodbye to the dogs in our care.
SAVORING THE SUNSET WEBINAR (Scheduled for 12/14/22 at 6pm Eastern):
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Hey everyone, this is a special bonus episode of the bat in his dog. That is a bit off season for the show since I typically launch each season at the beginning of each summer, but I couldn't resist when my friend Helen St. Pierre wanted to talk about polled senior dogs, which is a topic that isn't talked about enough. Helen runs old dogs go to Helen, a nonprofit organization that cares for SR or hospice dogs, and all the considerations that go into running such a wonderful cause. We chat about their care and behavior considerations, including aggression or lack thereof. But one of the highlights of this episode for me was learning what Helen does to navigate the emotions of saying goodbye to the dogs in our care. And I think you're going to enjoy this show. Hey, guys, I'm here with a really good friend and colleague, Helen St. Pierre, who's the owner and operator of No monkey business dog training, LLC, based in Concord, New Hampshire, with two state of the art facilities, one I just got to visit I went up to see Helen, just a few weeks ago, so it was a real pleasure to see her new facility. She was gracious enough. One of the really, she really is one of the kindest, most gracious trainers. I know she, she had me up at her other facility many years ago. This is before I even jumped into aggression work, and I was looking at opening my own facility. So she's showing me two of our facilities, which is awesome. She is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified professional dog trainer knowledge and skills assessed. I had an operation socialisation, certified trainer, Elena has been training dogs for over 20 years. She's a professional member of the association of pet dog trainers, a certified member of the idol, ABC, and a member of the pet professional guild. Helen is also a licensed dogs and Starks educator and a licensed dogs and toddlers educator. She recently spoke with Jen Shryock, at the aggression in dogs conference, and has done a webinar for me and runs old dogs go to Helen, which is what we're going to be talking about today. Super awesome play on words, as well love the name of the organization. So welcome to the show, Helen. Oh, thank you so much for having me, Michael. It's a pleasure to be here, especially talking about old dogs, which I could talk about all day. Yeah, so So what got you into that, you know, like, of all the things you could focus on with your big deal of running businesses, you got a family, you've got a lot on your plate, and then all of a sudden, now you have eight senior dogs in your home. So what got you into this in the first place? Well, to be fair, I've always done it. You know, my my background and beginning of my work in with dogs was with the shelter. I started in shelter work before I was training dogs. So I've always had shelter dogs sort of coming in and out of my home like a revolving door. And it was when I lost my old dog who was 1415. And he was right at 15 Merlin, when he passed, I realized how much I loved having the presence of an old dog in the house, it really just set the tone for even the younger dogs. And right after he passed right around the same time, a very small bolt, stinky dog, which is right up my alley came into came into our lives. And I started to rehab him. And he didn't last very long. He was only with us for about a year, he actually ended up having kidney failure and all of that stuff, but it sort of set the tone. And I started to realize like there was a really big need for some of these old hospice, failing dogs that needed a soft place to land. And I started taking on one at a time, sometimes up to two at a time. And one of the larger cases that I took on was a dog that we call Jupiter, he was a huge intact bull mastiff mix. And he was had a heart enlarged heart skin disease. I mean, you name it, there was something wrong with this dog and his medication was costing around $500 a week. And all of my followers for No monkey business, reached out and really wanted to help with his care. So I said you know if you want to participate and you know I was doing this without asking for any help, it's just part of what I wanted to do. But people were really being adamant like, look, I'd love to contribute to the costs, where can I send this so I started an old dogs fund on PayPal and I was amazed at how many people really wanted to help contribute to the costs for these dogs but didn't want to actually do some of the work which is understandable because it's it's a lot of work. And after Jupiter passed you know, I'd sort of developed this reputation in the area for well that's the lady that will take the stinky dying, you know dog with the tongue hanging out that can't see and walks into walls like call Helen. So I started to just accumulate these dogs and I created old dogs go to Helen but was a charity We'll foundation went through started the process of becoming a 501. C three. And one of my clients for No monkey business is actually a wonderful attorney. And he offered to do my 501 C three, pro bono for me because of the work that that he knew that I was doing. And it took about a year and we finally got that going and squared away. So it kind of it's just like with all of us in the dog world, you know, we start something we don't realize that it's we're going down that path until we're way already down the path. And we're like, oh, yeah, wow, this is how that happened. And now now that I'm a 501, C three, we just bought this house. So we have this whole area, basically a sanctuary. And, you know, that's what I'm doing. I'm just taking care of a lot of these. While all of them are hospice extreme special needs medical cases. And I love it. That's really awesome. Because you know, the listeners can't see what I'm seeing behind you right now. But kind of describe it's like this. It's like this cozy cabin in the woods kind of feel vibe with the fireplace and only senior dogs just laying around and enjoying them. So so how does your family feel about this, that they kind of say, oh, boy, mom, or your kids are like, Mom's gonna get another job? Well, yeah, I mean, you know, after we before Jupiter, you know, after we had a dog named Sarge, who was a giant pipl, who was very old. And, you know, we used to have to carry him up and down the stairs and, and after Sarge passed my husband's like, you know, the next one that we take, could we take in a small hospice dog, so you know, if we have to lift him and I was like, Sure. And then the next dog, of course, with his 100, pound bull mastiff, Jupiter, and they've kind of just gotten into the the idea that like, Look, if these dogs come in, and they need us, we're just going to help. The kickback that I've heard from a lot of people in senior in hospice, dog adoption is the worry about the kids being involved. And, you know, I know you've heard me speak about it and write about it before. But doing senior in hospice rescue with dogs has been one of the greatest things I could have done as a parent, it has taught so much empathy and compassion and sacrifice to the kids, it's opened their mind to the understanding of what death is, and that death is not something that we have to not talk about, or skirt around, or, you know, try to prevent, it's something that is just a part of their lives. And as a result, you know, I've got these kids that are, you know, incredibly resilient, and so compassionate for it. And that's something that I really wished was discussed more is talking to kids about this and utilizing SR and hospice work with, with kids, and having them understand what it is it creates a lifelong respect for what you know, life is and what it isn't. It's such a valuable lesson, I can imagine how that's really helped them grow and see the journey of life, really, I mean, it's something that even adults can learn from, right. And that's kind of considering you know, what outcomes for a senior dog there might be. So you know, you see a lot of these icy, sometimes it breaks your heart, you know, you see like a senior dog on social media or something like that, or like a tick tock video of a senior dog being given up or surrendered at a shelter that's like 14 or 15, and has health issues. And you know, you it kind of breaks your heart, like you think in your mind, why would somebody do that, but there's often a lot of valid reasons sometimes. So you want to talk us through that a little bit? You know, why do people give up on it? Although, yeah, you know, we get do you get all kinds of responses when I'll post, you know, just got this 16 year old dog, or this 18 year old dog, you know, that kind of thing, or, you know, even the 13 or the 14 year olds, you know, some people I would never give up my dog and I would never, there are always sometimes valid reasons for some people. I mean, a lot of the time it's the owners have passed. So the senior dogs were with seniors, and those senior humans have passed on. And the family doesn't have the resources or they're not in the area to care for the dog. Sometimes it is the dog has too many medical issues for the humans to be able to deal with appropriately. There is a very valid and realistic point that some people cannot handle the care and the decision making that sometimes needs to happen. I found that with a lot of younger people that have this is their first dog, they've never had a dog that has now incontinent or has hard time walking and they really don't know how to handle it or aren't financially prepared to be able to provide some of the things that the dog now needs and that kind of thing. And in many cases, those are all very valid reasons. And then of course, you do get the other side of it where we see a lot of dogs that are just they're no longer convenient. So the dog is cast aside and are there those stories? Yes, and I'd have some of those to hear but we also have some that are Are for no fault of their own, those humans had to make that decision. And in the end, I always say to the kids and to my husband, it really doesn't matter. They're here now. So we're just gonna give them the best sunset we can. And I imagine, as some of the listeners are hearing you speak about this, that it might seem like a romantic thing to do to like a goal. Gosh, that sounds amazing. I want to, I want to do the same thing and, and taking the senior dogs and give them a happy home. Because, you know, again, your hearts go out to these dogs. But there's, as you mentioned, some costs involved as well, some skill involved, because you have a background in the veterinary industry, right? So you are able to administer medications to do something. So can you talk more about that as well? Yeah, it is not glamorous, there is nothing glamorous about senior and hospice dog rescue. And one of the things that we see a lot, you know, I'll post these dogs that this dog just arrived and people like, Oh, I'd love to adopt him. And you think, you know, because they see this cute picture. But the reality is, is that we do more laundry every day from washing pee pads, or, you know, accidents than, you know, we're actually creating a volunteer program just for people to come do laundry for us, because my washing machine and dryer is gonna like, it's gonna quit very soon, because I can't keep up. But you know, it's not glamorous, there is a lot of cleanup, there's a lot of worrying, there's a lot of medications and staying on top of things. And I cannot even tell you the amount of bills that you do in veterinary care, you know, just in maintaining some of these dogs not even just diagnostic work or treatment just in maintaining. So peanut, this little chihuahua that we got yesterday, he's in heart failure, he has a vascular valve that's not closing properly, and he's got a chronic cough. So you can barely hear yourself think sometimes, you know, it's, it seems like, again, from the outside, people love to look at the pictures. But if they saw, like, if I had one of those time cameras that showed you what I'm doing moving around, I don't really sit down much. I'm constantly taking care and caring for them. But it's it. I love it because I love doing it. But it's it's certainly not for the finish of heart. You should totally do that with the camera following you around because not only would it be cool to see what you do with the old dogs, but everything else you've got going on in your life, I think would be very inspiring. So kind of shifting gears a little bit here is the part where you have to let them go. And making those decisions and and kind of dealing with that, you know, emotionally I'm sure it's very tough. I know I would be like bawling if I've got a senior dog. I mean, it must be tough, tough every single time. How do you how do you work through that? And how do you make the decisions? Well, you know, I've prior to even doing any of this, like I said, I my beginning work was in shelters, I started at little Plata County Humane Society in Durango, Colorado. And we had a crematorium on site, we did euthanasia for space. I mean, I was introduced to euthanasia, and death at a very, very young age in my training career and working with dogs, because we would euthanize perfectly healthy dogs just because we ran out of space. So I was very aware when I was going into this work of what euthanasia look like I'd euthanized my own dogs prior for age and that kind of thing. And you know, you hear the term quality of life all the time. But what I've really become very adamant about talking about is something called quality of death. And I think our society, especially in our culture, and society, which you know, I know you've done so much work in talking to people about what our society is doing to dogs in terms of just healthy young dogs who are expectations, but are the same thing is our expectations and understanding of what death is and what end of life should look like. And we don't talk about it enough what quality of death is what you know, death, it seems like such a scary final thing. And it is final, but it doesn't have to be scary and it can be celebrated. And it can be done in a really kind, peaceful, non emergency non painful way. And that's what I really strive for, with these dogs. Now. That's not to say, you know, I will get a dog that someone will tell me, you know, the rescue or the person will say, you know, I know he doesn't have long I know he doesn't have long, he might only have a couple of weeks and I'll take him and I'll be like, I know this dog only has a couple of weeks and then 24 hours after having this dog. I'm like this dog can never die. You know, because I love them so much like I get super attached. But what I've realized is that I cannot hold on for me. I have to let them go for them. It's not about having them go on their worst day. That's what I've really learned is that a lot of these dogs they have chronic illnesses. We're not all all of these dogs have chronic illnesses or ailments or age and they're never going to get better. This is not something that's going to improve it might plateau I might have them feel better than they did when they first came and they weren't on any medicine, but they're never going to go back to puppy hood. So I have to make those decisions for that dog when they tell me right and not and don't be selfish about it. But also when I'm realizing that they're on that downward curve. Now they're on that downward spiral. And I owe it to them to not just give them a good end of life, but also a really good depth and have them be cognizant and aware and have a great last day before that happens. And that gives me a lot more, I'm not going to say I don't mourn their loss or feel sad when they go, but it gives me a lot more peace in knowing that I've given them that rather than I shouldn't have waited, you know, that type of regret that some people have felt. That's a really great way of putting it in the sense of when you say quality of death in the sense of being able to cope with that, because I think it's a struggle for many of us when we see an animal passing, regardless of the reason. And it's interesting to me, you know, as you were speaking, you were reminding me of some other people I know that face this decision making process often, you know, Trish McMillan is one. Yeah, and how, from an emotional standpoint, you know, I'm always asking, what's the secret? You know, what's the secret? When I when I see that in somebody, somebody that experiences or sees death often? Or somebody that works in hospice? For instance? How do they cope with that? What are their strategies? And so it's an interesting component, because I don't, I don't think I have that part of that. I don't know what to call it sort of that aspect that you guys have, that it's very powerful, because I don't see too often. Because working in a care industry or care profession, we care a lot, right? And so the emotions are just going to naturally come along with it. And so to see that it's interesting, I'm always kind of digging into what is that secret? And so I, I really appreciate you talking about the quality of death aspect of it, because it's, yeah, there is no secret. I mean, there are some and I will be totally honest with you, there are some that when we go for that final appointment, I feel complete relief for that dog, you know, that dog has been struggling or suffering. And then there are some that really are harder for me, because I wish that I had had more time with them. Or, you know, there's no real secret, it's just for some reason, I have a more of a built in resiliency than others. But that being said, something that I hear a lot in my work is Oh, I could never do that my heart would just break too easily. And the reality is, is it doesn't mean that my heart doesn't break doing this, it just means that I see that there is this need for these dogs to have somebody that is willing to do that. And I'm willing to do it for them. But it doesn't mean that like like even with Trish, like the we're not feeling that stuff, too. We just are I'm better at I don't know, pushing it aside to care for the animal in that moment. You need to write a book about it. Again, I think it's it's such a valuable information for those of us out there that do struggle with end of life decisions. And with death, it's, I think there's much more to be learned from so yeah. And also, you know, you know, I know you but a lot of listeners may not know your lifestyle, what you do, you know, the amount of that you have on your plate, you know, running those two locations, full time business, parents, you know, wife, you've got so much going on. And yet you still have this, and then the component of what we were just talking about, you know, providing a good end of life for these dogs. It just, it's truly remarkable when you think about it in terms of the amount of stressors we can face in our lives. Yeah, you're doing, they, they shift and helped me so much in my regular work to because they keep me very, very humble. And they keep me constantly aware of how we take so much for granted. And you know, how we have to remember that all of our lives, you know, everything is just a face it you know, it's just a phase. And so when people are coming at me, and they have these questions about their puppies, or their younger dogs or all of that, you know, in my mind, I'm obviously helping them with those issues. But I also am very cognizant and always aware of like, this is a phase you will you're going to come to other and I have that phase in my house. I have all the phases in my house, I have puppies, but I have all the way up to you know, their last weeks or months and keeping that fresh in my mind has made me much more acutely aware of of helping clients get perspective sometimes on things, it's really not that big of a deal. It's going to be okay. Okay, so we're gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, we're gonna talk about that helping aspect as well. Hey, everyone, if you are interested in hearing more about applicable and immediate steps you can use with your own dog or in your cases. Don't forget about this subscription series called Help for dogs with aggression, which is an additional format to this podcast, where I walk you through a variety of aggression is views and how to solve them, you'll find a little subscribe button on Apple podcasts where the by the end of the dog is listed, or a link in the show notes to subscribe on supercast, your support of the show is very much appreciated. Please also consider supporting Helen's cause by heading over to old dogs go to helen.com. And clicking on the donate button, you'll be supporting a wonderful organization. And the senior dogs will thank you for it. All right, we're back with Helen. And we're gonna jump now into how can we help some of these older dogs? You know, what are some of the aspects you need to consider with regards to you know, just general daily care? Just what are your some of your insights there? Well, you know, I've talked to you about this before, but we focus so much on dog, I hate the word ownership, but guardianship, whatever you want to call it on the first like three to four years of life for, you know, we get a puppy, we focus on puppy hood, we have adolescence, and then we are really into like, well, what am I going to do with this dog? Do I want to do sports monitor. And all of that stops when we hit, you know, senior hood, it's like we those resources, an understanding of what their needs might be really does shift. And you know, what defines a senior is a conversation for another day in terms of is it when they're seven Was it when they're 12. But as the dog ages, as the dog starts to enter what I call the sunset of their lives, right, they're no longer young and Spry, there are a lot of considerations that I think people need to have an understanding of, you know, one of the biggest things that I've noticed in my work with senior dogs is just how routines shift. I mean, the routines for my young dogs is like, Okay, we eat here, we do this, we and they just sort of like we go with it, and they go with it. With senior dogs routines are very different, you know, I might feed my senior dog at nine o'clock at night, whereas you know, as a young puppy, they would have eaten their whole meal by six o'clock. But for some of the senior dogs, I have to offer them dinner a totally different periods of time, because it's based off of how they're feeling or perceiving that day. And then things like environmental changes, you know, going from being able to do all the stairs to okay, we're getting to that point now where I might need to have one level living, right, which we talked about, even with humans was they get to a certain age, like moving to one level living. And, you know, if we start considering that stuff early, and we start making those plans ahead of time, we can defeat a lot of anxiety for not just the the Guardian, the person caring for the senior dog, but the senior dog itself, because I see so many senior dogs have such anxiety that they are now no longer physically able to do what they used to be able to do, like go upstairs, and they end up hurting themselves. And then that pain then perpetuates the issue. And if we start making these preparations ahead of time and saying, Well, we've, I've got a mastiff and you know, he's going to be eight and nine, you know, we have a set of stairs, maybe I need to start having him get used to lower one level living now, before he falls or something happens. I think we can alleviate a lot of this. But, you know, it's really just senior dogs, hospice dogs, it's fly by the seat of your pants, a lot of the time it is you know, some of them love their routine, but then the next day, they may completely go off that routine, and you're gonna have to shift your whole day around what might work for them in those moments, which is especially true for some of the dogs that I deal with in renal failure, or that have a chronic medical condition because it's very much dependent on their how they physically are feeling that day. Do you see when one of the seniors for many seniors that comes to your home passes on? Do you see the other dogs grieve sometimes and how do you how do you cope with that or deal with that? That is such a great question. In my experience, yes, but mainly with dogs, senior couples that have come in so when I've had two bonded seniors come in my last one was Pomeranian and little sheep to mix, you know muffin and scuffie and muffin came to me extremely emaciated and in very bad end stage renal failure and she only had like two weeks with us but scuffie Was he was hospice but he wasn't as bad when she passed. He absolutely felt that loss. But it's one of the reasons that I am so adamant about having multi senior dogs at this point multi hospice senior dogs because they bolster each other. I think that that actually really does improve their quality of life by having multiple ones so that when there is a loss, it's not as profound. They they definitely pick up on it just like I do. You know, I walked in here because I we lost snuggles on on Monday. She was a 16 year old Pekinese and she was in renal failure. You know, I walk in and I'm like, Oh, I miss snuggles, but I don't have have time to really worry and focus on because I've got to shuffle ever, but help outside to get their dinner. And so I think they definitely pick up on it. It's profound in some cases, but it doesn't play as role as much here with the multiples as it would if they were by themselves. So along those lines now, of how they're interacting with each other, let's talk a little bit more about behavior. And what you see there. When I met up with you a few weeks ago, we were kind of joking about some of their interactions that those actually quite comical the way you're describing it. So tell us more about like, like, kind of the daily routine between these dogs, you know, if it's their conversations with each other, how they behave around each other, because people when you think about it, eight dogs in a home, a lot of the listeners, I'm sure are like, they can have problems with two dogs sometimes in the home. But dogs are a little different, right? Yes, well, it levels the playing field, right? Because, you know, if you combined all of them together, you'd have one normal dog, but you know, there's one with three legs, this one's blind, this one's kidneys don't work, this one's heart doesn't work. And they're all just just like puppies, when puppies are born, they're completely vulnerable, even playing field, right, they don't have any skills or anything that's that, you know, puts one against the other Unlimited, maybe size and some strength. But same thing with senior dogs. It's just that level playing field, especially when we talk about like the super seniors or the hospice. So it's kind of like watching whales, like they still have plenty of interactions with each other, but everything is slowed down. And they're especially not as apt to get into scuffles or arguments, because they can some of them can barely walk, some of them can't see, you know, so everything is very agonistic. very, like, I'm just trying to show you that I don't want you to come near me while I'm trying to sleep on this bed. But lots of talking, but not a lot. There's no yelling, nobody does any really yelling anymore at this stage. But what's really cool is that you'll see they each have their own personalities. And for me, what I love is I'm like God, you at four years old would have been such a handful, you know, and now here you are 14, you know, trying to be a handful, but you can't anymore. So you know your version of a handful. But when you're dealing with eight senior dogs, like I said, you combine them you'd have one healthy mischievous dog. But when you combine them like that, it's very slow moving, but it's some fantastic body language to watch to because they still have all those skills, you know, they just can't practice them as quickly and as fast as they would have been able to when they were young, Spry whippersnappers. Now, would it be safe to say you, you rarely see to over aggression in any of the senior dogs that come to you? Absolutely, yes, it is very, very well. Well, to be fair, though, people who know when they send their dogs to me that I have a they have to be kids, cats and dogs savvy. You know, in order to come here, they have to have that because I'm creating an environment for them. So I'm not taking on dogs that have those issues. But I will tell you that I have taken dogs like Mary this 13 year old pity she's heartworm positive, she's an intact female, if she were at four or five years old, I would be much more concerned about her being able to mesh in with everybody, quite frankly. But because of her ailments and her age, she really and she was very grumbling when she got but you you don't see the the outward aggression and that kind of thing that you would see in other multi dog households with younger dogs. Speaking of those younger dogs, we often see not often but the dynamic when we go into an intra household Dog Dog regression case, where it's sort of newer conflicts between the dogs. And there's a younger dog and a senior dog, it's often the younger dog sort of picking conflicts with the older dog. Why do you think that is? In your experience? What do you see in those kinds of cases? Well, I mean, it's kind of like, I always tell people, you know, when you've got a senior dog and you get a puppy, or you get a young dog, it'd be like me, leaving my four year old with my 85 year old grandma and expecting them to sort of like get along and interact well over a period of time. And at some point, my grandmother would get frustrated with my four year old and my four year old would get really frustrated with my grandmother and because you're just at different phases of life, you know, senior dogs, like I said, they move a lot slower. So I think that because they're slow down their deferment behavior, or their when they offer signaling to other dogs, the young dogs are used to a lot faster. So they don't, they don't communicate, sometimes they the lines of communication can get really badly crossed. And then the other thing that I do see a lot for young dogs is young dogs have a hard time learning to defer to the senior dog learning like, oh, I need to let you move out of the way I need to move out of the way for you because you can't move very well. You didn't mean to bump me while I was eating you just sort of stagger around. And so there's this huge learning curve that sometimes has to happen for you Have guardians of these dogs to learn like, well, you've got to teach your younger dog, that this is how the old dog moves, and it's okay. And he needs to be like cope a little bit better. And we might need to set up the environment for the older dogs so that he's not sending those lines of communication that are getting misconstrued by the younger dog. But it's, we see that a lot, you know, and then the big question I always get is, Well, should I just let my old dog tell the puppy off? Or tell the other dog off? Like, should I wait for them to do that? And my answer is always like, no, no, no, you need to be refereeing and helping your younger dog understand that the old dog is in this stage and teaching that empathy. And I absolutely think that we can teach deferment and empathy to a lot of these young dogs with all dogs, the same way we do with kids like no, you can't go jump on grandma's lap. You know? And while she's laying down in bed, right, but I mean, we would do that right? I would never say to my four year old, you know, go ahead, Grandma will tell you when it's time to stop, like, no, no, we don't do that. And we need to be doing that more with these young dogs and seniors too. Yeah. And then sometimes it's, it's kind of just a straight management scenario, right? Because your senior dog is in either cognitive decline, or babies losing their vision or hearing, it's going to be in terms of the amount of time that dog might have left versus the amount of behavior change strategies we might employ. It's much more often the easier answer is just let's manage these let's give the older dog the space they need. And this part of the house or whatever it is, do you agree with that? Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, management comes into play in so many areas of training, but especially with senior dogs and young dogs. And, you know, even especially when you're talking about big dogs and small dogs, I mean, if you've got a tiny senior Chihuahua, even if that senior to Allah is rather spry and can communicate back, I'm still going to manage that young shepherd puppy, pretty good. So absolutely. Management sometimes is, especially in that very last few months or weeks, whatever is really, really important for, again, for that quality of life and quality of death of that old dog, as well. And senior for the sake of description here, senior dog as far as the age range, I know it's gonna differ by breed. But what would you set that out? If you were to say, Okay, I'm gonna classify so the senior? Yeah, it's so dependent. I mean, I've had some dogs of my own, that I would have classified as senior by seven, you know, just from arthritis, or, you know, chronic illness. I mean, Paddington my colleague, who was diagnosed with lupus by five. And so by the time he was seven or eight, he was in his sunset, you know, versus some dogs that we have that there, I would, you know, they're seniors, technically, yes, they're definitely seniors by 11, or 12. But to me, they are in like, the early stages of senior hood. And then, you know, we've got like the super seniors, and I think size and breed definitely plays a role in that, you know, we know a lot of these small dogs tend to just go on and on and on and live forever, which it's one of the reasons that many senior dog rescues and sanctuaries are filled with just these neat little dogs with no Jaws, you know, that just sort of like continue to hobble around. But it's very variable based on the dog and their physical disease or ailment to. Let's see all this dog that's come through your program. 1818 and a half. Wow. Yeah, dog was it? He was a Jack Russell. And then the other youngest one I had was a Pomeranian. Wow. Wow. Yeah. How long were they with you for but they were the for like, a long time. Because they Yeah, so some of these. Yeah, some of these stories are harder, because you know, we get the a lot of the super super seniors that we get when they are passed to me, I will tell the the guardian or even the rescue, and they're giving them to me, this can go two ways, sometimes the transition to a new place and a new location. And that stress for a dog at that vulnerable of an age can be the beginning of the downward, right. So the 18 year old Jack Russell, he arrived and he was only with me, I think I think it was over a week. But it wasn't two weeks, because he started having massive seizures from the stress. So I had to make that decision for him very quickly. But then snuggles the 16 year old Pekinese that I had, I mean, we had her for five months, and she was in renal failure. And she did great, you know, it really just does depend on the dog. And sometimes it depends on that dog's history if that dog has been with one person, its entire life at from puppyhood until 18 years old, and then we pluck them out and they put them here. I don't take it personally that they look around and they go yeah, this is nice, but I'd like to go now. Like I do not take that personally at all. You can't because I completely and totally understand that this they they look around. They're like no, I'm ready. I'd rather go and that's totally fine. So, we're gonna talk a little bit more about resources or where people can go to find more information about helping senior dogs. But what about what advice do you have for somebody that's struggling, they've got a senior dog and they, for whatever reason, can't keep the dog and it's maybe a valid reason maybe it's an affordability issue, maybe it's they're moving, maybe somebody's family member passed away, and now they've got this dog with them. And they can't have the dog and wherever they live, or whatever reason. So what's your advice? What's, what are the next steps? What can people do besides coming to see you don't tell them my address my goal with all of them. But I think the the biggest piece of advice I would say, would be to find or look for a specialty senior rescue, okay? There are, unfortunately, there's only about 50 of us in the US at this time. But if they go to the website, saving senior dogs, they will find all of the rescues everywhere. And a lot of us even if I can't necessarily take the dog, I may be able to point them in a direction of someone who may be looking for a senior dog that they'd like to give a home to, or we have foster or hospice homes, look into that resource first, before you contact or go to your local shelter. And then the other half of that equation is look at the dog itself in terms of as an individual and ask yourself if going through a re homing process at that age, and if they a dog has medical ailments or anything like that is going to be humane for that dog? Or would that dog rather have an amazing last however many days with you have you go with him and be the last person to say goodbye. And you know, there is nothing wrong with having that discussion in your brain, it doesn't mean that you're giving up or that you could have would have should have. It's sometimes that is one of the best things you can do for some of these super seniors rather than have someone like myself have to do it and have the dog looking for you. That's a very, very important point and question for you there is Do you know of any resources where people can get assistance and making that kind of decision? Because I'm sure it's very difficult for people to at first make that decision on their own or kind of know the variables of what to look for, versus someone that is experienced with this? Do you know of anybody that offers consults, or if there's a particular resource for this? Yeah, I'm me. So I do a lot of that. Now, as people call me all the time, and I'm giving a workshop on it next month, actually called savoring the sunset, which is how to live with senior dogs and also how to make those decisions, when to make those decisions. I get so many calls for people that don't know, their dog was just diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or their dog is at this age, and they don't know how to navigate these decisions. You know, like I said, saving senior dogs talking to those of us that are in senior dog rescue, many of us are more than happy to make have those discussions and help you navigate them. The gray muscle foundation that I'll be doing some talks for next year, is also a great resource. They have a lot of information on there. But you know, really, you'd be surprised a lot of us in senior dog rescue and sanctuary and stuff like we're happy to talk to people about it. Because we would much rather be proactively helping these people then seeing the aftermath of some of these dogs that are left behind. You know, most veterinarians are very happy to have that conversation. But as we know, the veterinary industry is completely and totally overwhelmed. So they may not have the same amount of time that they used to to have those kinds of conversations. So I'm hoping over time, more resources for that kind of thing will be popping up. Excellent. Excellent. And where can people go to find your site and and all the other resources you were just mentioning that you're going to be doing? So my main website is no Monkey Business dog training.com. The best place to find me is on Facebook, you can just like No monkey business dog training, and you'll see all the shenanigans that go on with not just the old dogs, but the young dogs and the kids and the cats and the tortoise and all the fun stuff, the you know the zoo. And then you can like old dogs go to Helen on Facebook and my website, old dogs go to holland.com you can send me an email there you can see all our fundraising the stuff that we're doing. And I'll be posting on both of those the savoring the sunset webinar that we'll be doing next month that I'm hoping to get more professionals involved as well because I'd really love to see not just the public but more professionals learning how to coach people through some of these decisions as well. Excellent, excellent. So everybody, make sure you check out savoring the sunset that's coming up. It should be coming out right about a week after this podcast. If you're listening to the podcast, I think it'd be right around that time. And I'll be sure to add a link to in the show notes for this episode as well. And please, please consider donating to old dogs go to Helen it really she's just got such an amazing organization here. I mean, who who can't not think this is such a good thing. So please consider that you can find the fun racing like on her website. Alan, thank you so much for joining me and I'm sure we will talk again in the future. Thanks so much, Michael.