By Jennifer Kachnic and 19 other canine experts, Wallingford Vale Publishing, $22.
When I began this terrific resource, my wife and I were facing an end-of-life decision for our beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Trudy, 12, whose bounce, swagger and vibrancy were going South quickly as the result of a deteriorating kidney.
What to do? While there is no definitive answer in these cases, “Golden Years” guided us through a spirited, yet simplified pathway for decision-making.
For instance, Terri O’Hara, a Corvallis, Ore., animal communicator, says, “Dying is very difficult to contemplate for humans. This is usually not so for dogs. They do not fear their impending transition. Instead, they embrace it.
“Animals teach that death is a process. . . . A senior dog does not view a disease as a problem. She embraces anything and everything as a part of her journey. Through my experience, dogs have shown me that they gracefully accept all that is going on within their bodies.
“We must remember that the journey of life for every being has a beginning, a middle and an end. A birth, a life, a death. Your dog knows this. She is not upset that her life will end, but rather is living life to its fullest until her body simply can no longer go on. When it is too difficult to be in the ailing body, your dog will embrace her state of being and allow her death process to occur.”
O’Hara’s words and Trudy’s body language told us it was time, yet neither were enough to stop a torrent of tears from both of us.
“Golden Years” is a guidebook in both a proactive and reactionary sense, featuring traditional and complementary options of treatment. Because aging affects every body system, a geriatric screening panel should be performed annually to detect any change in key organs, advises Dr. Fred Metzger, a Pennsylvania veterinarian, who explains the panel’s basics in a manner all pet owners will grasp. In respect to the kidney, Metzger defines the importance of key readings with rich, insightful context, always reflecting a tough realism.
The lead author, Kachnic, a Colorado certified canine massage therapist, animal Reiki practitioner and therapy-dog handler, has chosen a diverse field of experts to address canine geriatric diseases, nutrition, dental care, physical therapy, chiropractic care, laser therapy, traditional veterinary Chinese medicine, plants and oils, homeopathy, quality of life, hospice care, pet home euthanasia and several other subjects. Each chapter concludes with the author’s “favorite resources,” and contact information.
Kachnic’s focus plays no favorite in terms of treatment modalities. All the options are on the table for the owner’s selection and comfort zone. Those nuggets of wisdom and insight make “Golden Years” an empowering overview every owner should have in his dog-care library.