Our Family Dog Cleo Grows Old as My Kids Grow Up!

Cleo is almost 17 years old. She is a papillon, and the mother of three of our other dogs. She came to us from Kansas shortly after Christmas when my youngest was three years old. She was sent to us in a crate on an airplane during a big snowstorm. My husband and oldest daughter walked in the house with her after picking her up from the airport. The puppy was a surprise! My youngest was having a meltdown as toddlers tend to do. When they walked in the front door with Cleo, she caught a glimpse of her and shouted, “My puppy, my puppy!” and she happily ran over to her. It was perfect timing.

We had researched the best dogs for families and thought a papillon would be a good fit for our family. My husband found a website online that showed a big family that bred and sold papillons and cavaliers. He contacted them and decided to get Cleo, a papillon, because she was discounted. She was sold for less because she didn’t have the markings of a show dog. Her eyes didn’t have black around them. She turned out to be one of the best deals we have ever gotten. She has been a great family dog. She has always been loyal and loving towards the people in our family.

She had two litters of puppies and was a wonderful mother. At one point, we were thinking of “showing” her puppies and competing in dog shows but our lives were too busy and it never happened. Shortly after she had her first litter, we were watching a home video of her puppies on television. Her newborn puppies were safely upstairs in the “puppy” room at the time. She heard  puppy noises coming from the television downstairs and she came running down looking for them all around the television set. She was confused and worried about them, running everywhere looking for them. We had to turn off the television and take her upstairs to show her that her puppies were safe and not downstairs.

She had four puppies in her first litter. We have two of her puppies from that litter, Pippin and Patches, who are almost 15 years old now. Two years later, she had two more puppies. We have Spot, who was the second puppy born. She had the first puppy with no problems but had trouble giving birth to her second puppy. We brought her into the Veterinarian’s office where she had to be induced. Shortly after she was induced, Spot was born encased in a sack. We weren’t sure if he was alive. She cleaned him up and he came to life. He is almost 13 years old now but he still acts like a puppy.

Cleo has grown old as my children have grown up. She has dementia now and has had it for some time now. She is blind and deaf. We have to make sure she eats and drinks. She tends to squeeze in tight spaces so we have to constantly keep an eye on her. We realized she was having trouble when one of our pet sitters left the basement door open and she went down in the basement and fell in the sump pump. Fortunately, another pet sitter heard her barking and saved her life. That was last October.

She sleeps in a crate at night so she won’t wander. She spends her days sleeping and pacing around our fenced-in backyard or kitchen under supervision. If she gets stuck somewhere, she barks to let us know. She sometimes eats and drinks on her own. Other times, we have to make sure she eats and drinks by bringing the bowl right up to her mouth. She is getting skinnier because she’s not eating as much. I have a feeling we may have to let her go soon. It is not an easy decision. We will have to keep monitoring her to see how she does. Fortunately, my husband and I are both home this summer and two of our children still live with us so we can keep an eye on her.

Our philosophy has been as long as she’s comfortable and we can keep an eye on her so she’s safe, she will keep on going.  She will be seventeen this September. According to a chart on the American Kennel Club website, a 16 year old dog under 20 pounds is equal to a human that’s 80 years old. That makes her in her 80’s right now. My kids will be 27, 25, 22, and 20 this year. They were 10, 8, 5 and 3 when we got her.  We are all looking to celebrating Cleo’s seventeenth birthday in September!

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