Whenever I walk down the street in the evening to call the cats in for dinner, Mojo the dog will stand at his gate and call out to me. He’s a cross but with lots of Toy Poodle in him, so he’s super-smart. Also, he’s totally spoilt so he’s a friendly chap and his coat is kept in perfect shape.
I didn’t realise it but Mojo will be 10 years old soon – with his Gotcha Day being June 26. With ageing dogs having different needs than young dogs, I talked to his mum Hema Arul about the changes in Mojo’s life and what she expects to see in the next few years.
“When Mojo came to us, he was a pup of about two months,” Hema remembers. “At that time, we lived in a corner lot with a bit of land. Mojo ran about all day in our garden, and he would go for walks with my husband. They also played fetch in a nearby field for an hour at a time.”
When Hema’s husband passed away, they moved house and today Mojo has a small yard.
“His activity level has really dropped,” Hema says. “As a pup, Mojo had separation anxiety so we let him sleep with us. That’s never changed. He’s got his spot in the bed and it’s his alone!
“But in the past he’d sit up with my husband till midnight, watching the football. Today, Mojo tells me it’s time for bed as early as 8pm. And he’ll sleep round the clock, no problem.
“In the mornings, he goes to do his business, but then comes back and lies on the sofa. What he does love is playing with the grandchildren. They all run around together and have lots of fun but Mojo gets tired quickly.”
Small dogs can be picky eaters and Mojo is definitely not a boy who’ll eat whatever you give him. He’s quite a little dog so chunky food is simply too big for him to cope with. He eats commercial gourmet soft pellets and has a weekly dish of boiled chicken breast.
“His teeth became an issue two years ago when he was eight,” Hema shares. “He has a crooked jaw and one of his teeth had become infected too. We clean his teeth regularly but it’s not easy as he doesn’t enjoy it. He’s not fond of toys designed for teeth-cleaning either.”
Basically, Mojo’s mum keeps a close eye on how and what he eats, and she checks his mouth regularly to make sure he’s not developing dental issues.
“What also became an issue when he was eight was that he was peeing everywhere,” Hema says. “Whenever he sat down, there’d be a spot.”
Mojo’s vet diagnosed him with prostate problems and as this appeared at the same time as his dental issues, poor Mojo was whipped in for double surgery.
“It was a complete success,” Hema says. He’s totally fine and he has perfect urine control.”
Nobody likes to think of being very old and the issues it might bring, but it’s sensible to plan ahead.
“My daughter’s dog Bambam is 15 years old now,” Hema says. “He’s a Cocker Spaniel so he has some ear issues. I watch Mojo too and the groomer makes sure that his ears are kept neat.
“Bambam had a cataract issue in one eye that was dealt with some years ago. His other eye has a problem now but as he’s too old for an op, he has to live with it. He’s also going deaf. I expect Mojo will be the same. It’s OK, but you just have to remember that they can’t hear when you call. You have to go up and speak to them.”
Bambam recently developed arthritis which also required a vet’s visit and ongoing medication. However, it’s working and although he’s a little rickety on the paws, he’s much better.
“It’s about being happy,” Hema says. “You keep an eye on their physical health, and you slow down and adjust things to suit their needs.”
And from Mojo’s happy grin, and Bambam’s agreeing woof, this simple advice seems a recipe for success.