As the Border becomes middle-aged it may become an effort for the dog to take as much exercise as before and to keep up. Dogs slow down and become rheumatic, just as humans do. Middle age for a Border is about seven years onwards. Reduce the amount of exercise and the pace to suit the dog. A dog who enjoys and waits for a walk will be very disappointed if left behind. Dry the ageing Border after a wet walk. The diet may have to be adjusted; an elderly dog, being more sedentary, needs less food with less protein. Watch the waist-line. It is unfair to allow a Border to become square in old age. An elderly dog may start to feel the cold. The outdoor dog may have to come into the house or be given additional heat in the kennel. A heated underpad of the type used for cats can help old bones. If the old dog approaches the feeding bowl with enthusiasm and then turns away toothache may be the problem.

 An absolute responsibility of dog ownership is to know when the time has come to say goodbye to an old friend. It is selfish and unkind to allow a dog who is miserable through an incurable illness or senile decay to linger on suffering. Making the decision to have a dog put down is worse than the actual deed. Most vets will visit the home to give the final injection gently. Vets are used to tears, so do not feel worried about this. Believe me, this does not get any easier, no matter how many dogs one has owned. When people say to me “it’s all right for you breeders, you have lots of dogs”, I think “If only they knew.” Once everything is over, despite the tears, there will be a sense of relief that the dog is no longer suffering. This is the one final good thing we can do for our dogs. Remember that the decision is better made one day too early than one day too late, from the dog’s point of view.

 When the time comes to replace an old friend with another dog it is sometimes better to have one of a different colour. Every dog is a different character and it is hard on the new dog to he expected to be the same as the dear departed.

(an extract from “Border Terriers Today” by kind permission of Anne Roslin-Williams)