Monday, March 28, 2016

Fifteen Golden Years

Fifteen years ago today, a litter of Golden Retrievers was born. Seven weeks later we chose a blond female from that litter and brought her home to join our family. Chardonnay is my first pedigreed dog and our oldest pet.
2-month-old cuteness
I blogged about our dog Chardonnay on her tenth and fourteenth birthdays and realize how fortunate we are to still have her in our lives on her fifteenth. Cancer is very prevalent in Golden Retrievers, so much so that Chardonnay participated in a study being done on her breed and cancer. It is hoped that her blood contribution from a non-cancer patient will help scientists figure what she has that the other Goldens do not.
However, this past year has been even more challenging for the old girl; mostly because her hind legs are so stiff they barely bend. Falling down is common and getting up takes time and effort. We started having laser therapy done on her a couple of months ago to make her feel better and that has helped her mobility some. The walks in the woods are less frequent, but she enjoys them at her own pace. Her hearing is almost gone, she has cataracts and seems to have dementia as well. She has had three seizures although they are spaced over a couple of years and not our major concern right now.
The one sense that still works with incredible accuracy is her sense of smell. Chardonnay still trolls for chicken droppings and poop left behind by herself or our other dog, Cory. Cory chooses to poop in the woods, however Chardonnay manages to sniff it out, even if she didn’t witness where Cory went in the midst of all the leaves on the ground. So the coprophagia instinct is still alive and well with her. Great. Chardonnay’s nicknames are Chardy, The Golden Goof, Blondie and Shithead.
Yesterday we had both kids, Tyler and Kelsey, and their significant others over for Easter dinner so we took advantage of the family gathering to celebrate Chardonnay’s birthday. I went a little bit over the top. When you realize you’re on borrowed time, you have an excuse to make the most of it. Last year, I took Chardonnay shopping at Pet Supplies Plus for her fourteenth. This year, I had picked up a small cake (about 6 inches in diameter) at Stop n’ Shop and had them write “Happy Birthday Chardonnay” with matching icing on it. I got numbered candles. And to honor Chardonnay’s true dining habits, I arranged three Tootsie Rolls in the shape of her favorite food on top. And before anyone criticizes me for feeding my dog junk food or chocolate, I'll defend myself; it takes an exorbitant amount of chocolate to hurt a dog, Tootsie Rolls have very little actual cocoa in them, and at her age Chardonnay has earned the right to eat cake. She eats crap, for Pete's sake.
Her very special cake, complete with Tootsie Roll turds

We all sang and presented Chardonnay with her very own birthday cake, candles unlit. I expected her to try to wolf the entire cake down, but she surprised us by licking the icing, unamused at the fake turds. Sorry, Old Girl, real ones were not an option.
Chardonnay enjoys her birthday cake