Holly turned 16 in December. The average life span of a dog is 10 – 13 years (13 for a Dachshund), so she’s lived a long time. In the year and a half since Hannah’s passing we’ve tried to make an effort to focus on her in the time that she has left. We spend time sitting on the couch with her and make sure she’s always comfortable. She still likes to walk around the house (though she is unsteady) and loves to eat (though she only has 2 teeth) so we try to indulge her as much as we can. She enjoys being outside in the summer so we often tied a couple of leashes together and wrapped them around a free-weight so that she could wander around the yard when we were out.
The boys have become very attached to her over the past year, especially Adam. It might be their age, it might be that we talk more about her age and being gentle, but in any case their affection for her has deepened. They sit on the couch with her and gently pet her fur, stroke her ears, and talk to her. They put blankets on her when she is restless and lay with her when she is tired. Adam lays his head next to her and talks with her almost every morning. They talk about her and ask questions about how old she is. We’ve had brief conversations about the end of her life and I think it will hit them harder than Hannah did. They were 4 when Hannah passed and hadn’t been that close to her. With only one dog we all focus more on Holly and have become more close with her.
In general her health has been fine for a dog of her age. She is slowly losing her sight and hearing so she tends to growl or bark at things that are more than 10 feet away. She can’t walk very well but still enjoys skittering around the house as best she can. We carry her up and down stairs and put her on the couch when she wanders for too long. She has a very strong appetite, particularly for my breakfast and crumbs that fall from the dinner table. She only has two teeth so we switched her to soft food and she loves it. She doesn’t have the best bladder control anymore so we put puppy pads in her kennel during the day and take her out more often. She usually wakes Sally up at 4 or 5 AM to go out and then demands a morning snack. She usually weasels a lunch out of us when we’re home on an afternoon, demands dinner when we get home, and expects bed time no later than 11. If she doesn’t get what she wants she groans and flops around until she gets it.
The only major issue she has had are seizures. She had her first in November 2015 while I was out in L.A. She continued to have them about once every quarter last year but the frequency increased around the holidays. She had two in two months and then had two in two weeks. When the seizures first started, we weren’t sure if she would live until the end of my travel assignment last April. She made it, so we set our sights on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She made it through and she’s still around.
Holly means a lot to us. She and Hannah were with us since almost the beginning of our relationship and were there for all of our milestones – moving out on our own, college, buying a house, getting married, and having children. Holly is our last constant connection to those memories. We’re watching her closely and spending as much time with her as we can. We know that she doesn’t have much time left but we feel good knowing that we are concentrating on her and spending special time with her.