|...with a hint of Maisie|
Jazz is getting to be very much an "old man" nowadays. He is twelve and a half, which is a respectable age for a Lab. That's a human equivalent of around eighty one, according to the latest methods of calculating dogs relative age.
Average life expectancy of a lab is 11.5-12.0 yrs, depending on who you ask. In any case, both Jazz and Bluez were above average in this regard - otherwise they're fairly typical, I'm sure.
Jazz shows many symptoms of being an old dog...
He rarely barks any more, other than a yap to be let back in once he's been out for a constitutional. He used to love a good bark at passers by, or random noises off, or whatever -it-was-that-Bluez-thought-he-was-barking-at. They triggered each other a lot, especially when they were younger.
Without his brother it now seems that nothing really triggers him, and he doesn't have the confidence to be a guard dog on his own...it's just not in him.
He also doesn't get as excited as he used to. He was always a bugger for getting over-excited at the slightest provocation. He would wiggle and pant and wag, and walk back and forth in a figure of 8, unable to contain his energy.
Visitors often took it as a measure of how pleased to see them he was. Whilst he was always pleased to see people (especially those who gave him lots of fuss and/or treats), it was not a healthy excitement, and contained more stress than joy.
Jazz is fundamentally a very submissive dog, and a little insecure, and the excitement was mostly an expression of his lack of confidence in how he should behave...he doesn't know what he's supposed to do, so he just tries everything at once, with a lot of nervous, excited energy fuelling the display.
But these days he's much calmer, it's all much lower energy and he doesn't wag his tail like he used to.
He certainly sleeps a lot more too. Probably 20 hours a day, which is not atypical, I don't think.
But most obvious are the physical symptoms.
He's quite lame in both front legs, and limps most of the time. He rarely tries to break into a trot any more. I carry him upstairs every night to sleep on the end of the bed (it's a big bed!), and carry him down again in the morning. He can get up and down on his own but I think it's quite painful for him.
He has arthritis, has had for most of his life to varying degree. We figure the cold must be getting uncomfortable for him, walking on icy roads and fields in his bare feet and arthritic ankles and shoulders.
So we bought him this lovely coat! It's really nice, fleecy on the inside, water and wind-proof on the outside.
He really doesn't like it...
He will tolerate it for a little while, but if we take him down the lane with it on, he will only walk very reluctantly.
He'll stand there and look at us as if to say, "I would speed up, but this thing has got me! I'm not sure I should move, it might bite...".
So he'll drag and drag on the lead, which isn't like him at all.
I think we need to start a program of desensitisation and building positive psychological connections, and work into it gradually.
Anyway, this photo, whilst not technically very good, has at least managed to capture some of Jazz's response to his lovely new coat.
He's got that look that says, "Don't look now, but it's got me again...I'm not gonna move...if I stand still, maybe it'll let me go...".
Oh Jazz-ah-by-zhan, you are such a legend!