We hope it happens to everyone and seems to happen to everything; age takes it’s toll. For all life gives us it takes a little. Each moment that passes we gain experience and wisdom. Each of those moments are paid for with a little more wear and tear on our bodies. This is the way of life. From where I sit, it seems better then the alternative.
From the time we are young we look towards retirement. Some look at having enough to be able to retire while others do not consider the costs. What ever the focus is I think the common ground in our looking at retirement is… Freedom. Freedom to choose, freedom from the daily grind, freedom from the stress’s of life.
Today I was working my older dog, Vaider, and got to thinking about how dogs view retirement. I came to thinking; they have a whole different view of it then we do.
We often hear that dogs live in the moment they are in, not down the road. They seem so happy in doing what they are doing, providing their needs are met and they are comfortable. If they are content in the moment there is no need to plan for the future, just enjoying the now.
Because of the way I look at this I think it is hard for me to decide when a dog needs to retire. When they are retired from work they will spend more time waiting and less time with me because they are not working with me.
Vaider is now 10 years old. Age is showing. His photos show his age even if he does not act it. His work, some days, show his age even though he does not want it too. He still puts on a good show when he plays with pups (everyone loves to play with Vaider). The problem is the some days. The days when he gives what he has and it takes more from him then it use too. The days when he acts like the work is more work then a good time.
Over the last couple months Vaider and I have been to a few trials. One of these he acted like the work was work. His gather of the stock was more of an outwalk then an outrun. Even with that he placed in the top third of the field. Then we did a trial this last weekend where he placed 2nd on the first day and first on the second day (with a 99.5). He felt good this weekend.
So then the question: do you retire a dog from trialing while at they are still running reasonable or wait till it is clear that it is work for them? The one is for us. We want to retire a dog while it is on top because it make us look and feel better. The other is for the dog. As long as we do not act disappointed in the run they do not care if they win or lose, they are just happy being out there with us.
If age is catching up to our dogs does it really matter that they are not running as fast and competitively as they once did? Does it matter if they need a little more help from the young ones to get the work done? If they are still being helpful, what is the problem if the work takes a little longer, as long as they are sound and healthy?
Even when his trial career ends I know the retired dogs will still be happy as long as they still get to come out and work. I am hoping Vaider will run at the Calgary Stampede and maybe the Kelpie Round up. Who knows he may stay on the trial roster longer then that, only Vaider and time will tell. Till then we will enjoy the knowledge and experience time has given us, even though it came with the cost of aging.