She is aging pretty gracefully, and is doing pretty good healthwise for an old dog (especially a shepherd!) She is a beautiful old dog.
A few months ago she was diagnosed with Pannus. Which is an eye disease that will eventually cause complete blindness. It is known as a "German Shepherd Disease" that typically affects much younger dogs- but we don't really know how long she has had it for. The symptoms only started a few months ago- but she could have had it for years. The disease causes lesions that eventually cover the eye. It hit her hard, and by the time we had it under control she has lost the vision in her right eye, and has very limited vision in her left. She is adjusting well though, and carries on just like she always has.
Other than that she doesn't act or look her age at all- she can be a bit stiff at time, but her arthritis is managed with supplements. She has a few odd lumps and bumps, but nothing major. Her teeth aren't great, but she still has a great appetite, and her heart is strong.
Kate and I have been through a lot. I got Kate when I was a teenager, and she was the first dog that I had trained from puppyhood. I did a lot of wrong things with that dog, but I sure learned lots! It is because of her that I switched to more positive methods, and she has taught me more about dog behavior than any of my other dogs. She was a great dog despite her social issues. Kate has been plagued her whole life with severe anxiety and fear issues. She would panic if left alone, and would panic if you brought her. We worked through her issues, and she did pretty well most of the time.
She played agility, and obedience for me. Because I asked her to, not because she enjoyed it. We got a CD, and made it to Advanced level in Agility before I retired her. I wasn't having fun, and she wasn't having fun anymore, so what was the point. Our relationship improved alot after that, and I was able to enjoy her for who she was, not what I wanted her to be.
Kate lives full time at my parents and is enjoying retired life. Lazy morning and evening walks, wrestling with her good buddy Drewdre, killing the occasional toy, napping on the couch and sleeping at the foot of my parents bed. That is the life of an old dog. :o)
I go over and see her usually three times a week and play some light fetch, cuddle on the couch or go to the park so she can roll in the grass. She will get a new toy in honor of her birthday- something with lots of stuffing so she can rip it out and leave it laying around my parents house. Maybe I'll buy her something with a loud squeak too....
Happy Birthday Kate!