Slink on the left and Mico on the right in their usual place under Marissa’s desk at Animal Care Clinic

Written by Marissa Greenberg, DVM

Most people and animals, like to have a routine and a schedule they can predict and count on.  A sense of stability makes almost everyone happy! Slink, at about 16, definitely seems to relate to the ol’ “Stuck in their ways” adage!  She knows her routine and sure doesn’t like to stray from it.  Here are a few examples.

For almost 8 years, I have usually parked in a certain place here at Animal Care Clinic and enter in a certain door.  Call me stuck in my ways too, but it’s just been a convenient and easy place to park and enter the building.  Slink is lucky to be able to come to work with me.  One day a few weeks ago, there was an issue with the door we usually go in.  As I walked away from that door to enter the building through a different entrance, I realized that Slink wasn’t coming with me – she was standing with her feet planted, with a look that definitely said to me, “No, Marissa we always go through this door, I can’t go through another one!”  With a little encouragement I got Slink to agree that another door would provide just as good of access to her bed under my desk!  I had to laugh a little at her stubborn, intense stare at the usual door!

Mealtime is definitely another routine oriented event for Slink, and she definitely gets a little confused if the routine isn’t followed.  If I stray from the routine, sometimes Slink won’t eat very well.  If I stray from it, or get distracted and the process is taking too long, she definitely lets me know, often with a good bark or howl at me!  Once her food is put down for her, she likes it if I stay fairly close by her.

If you have an aging dog, especially one losing sight and hearing, sticking with a daily routine can really help them to maintain a high quality of life and can prevent them from getting confused.   Aren’t we all a little stubborn and “stuck in our ways” sometimes?  But, even old dogs can make adjustments and learn to adapt.  Next time, I’ll talk about how old dogs can learn to accept the changes that may have to occur in their life.