Older Dogs, Deeper Love
Jane Sobel Klonsky
Anyone who has ever shared life with a dog knows that the human-canine bond is one that only grows stronger as dogs get older. For years celebrated photographer and dog lover Jane Sobel Klonsky longed to pursue a project featuring dogs but couldn’t find the right catalyst. It wasn't until a chance meeting at an insurance office in 2012 led her to witness the incredible relationship between Angela, the insurance broker, and her senior Bulldog, Clementine, that it came to her. Since then Jane has traveled the United States with one mission: to capture images and stories that focus on the powerful relationship between humans and their older dogs.
Her book UNCONDITIONAL: Older Dogs, Deeper Love(National Geographic Books; October 25, 2016; $19.95; 208 pages) is a captivating collection of photographs and stories that celebrates humans' special bond with, and love for, their senior dogs. The dogs represented in the book include senior rescues with their adopters, service dogs with those they assist and guide, working dogs with their handlers, and lifelong cherished family pets with the people who dote on them.For each of her subjects, Jane collected personal accounts of their lives intertwined with their canine companions. Together with the photographs, these raw, funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories celebrate the enduring bond between humans and dogs.
Of Jane's photographs, bestselling author Lewis Blackwell says, “Jane has brought her strong photographic sensibilities to explore a delicate and moving subject in a profoundly touching way. It’s a subject that seems tailor-made for the warmth that comes naturally to her images, and yet also enables her to open out and reveal a strong documentary edge.”
UNCONDITIONAL will resonate with anyone now enjoying a close bond with a pet, and it will provide comfort to those who have lost old friends. It’s a beautiful reminder to cherish our older animals and the rich moments we have with them, and to thank them for the love and friendship they unconditionally offer us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jane Sobel Klonsky launched her photography career in 1976 as the first photographer to scale the cables to the top of the Verrazano Bridge to get a shot of the start of the New York City Marathon. For nearly thirty years, she was a major player in the world of commercial and sports photography. Her work has taken her around the world to Kenya to shoot photos of a family of Masaai Warriors; to record an international running competition in Tokyo; and to chronicle the untouched beauty of far-reaching places like Papua New Guinea, and Myanmar (Burma). Her award-winning photographs have been published widely, and have been the subject of several books, including one based on a 50,000 mile cross-country photographic tour of rural America taken with her photographer husband and two Great Danes. She continues to do extensive work for Getty Images. Mother to up-and-coming filmmaker Kacey, she lives with her husband, Arthur, their two therapy dogs, Charlie and Sam, and a cat, Humphrey, in rural Vermont.
Older Dogs, Deeper Love
by Jane Sobel Klonsky
October 25, 2016
National Geographic Books
- Tyson's Place Animal Rescue, a Michigan organization dedicated to helping terminally ill people care for--and ultimately, find homes for--beloved pets like Bosco, a 14-year-old rat terrier mix currently up for adoption.
- Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary on theBig Island of Hawaii, where dogs like 13-year-old Pono, who recently found his forever home, are treated to therapeutic swimming pool visits as part of their medical care.
- Austin Pug Rescue, where the breed’s special medical needs are a priority. 11-year-old Ebenezer, who had to have all of his teeth removed due to severe periodontal disease, is now feeling fresh-mouthed and fine!
Degenerative myelopathy is a degenerative disease of the spinal cord that begins in older adulthood and progresses slowly until dogs are no longer able to walk unassisted. The cause of the disease is associated with a mutation in the SOD1 gene. It is not known exactly how the mutation of this gene leads to degeneration of the spinal cord in dogs, but the disease does interfere with the brain’s communication to the limbs, resulting in difficulty walking.
Dr. Beth Boudreau, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, further explained the disease. “In degenerative myelopathy, the pathways that carry neural information in the spinal cord lose their insulatory coating and begin to fragment, and eventually the neurons that produce those signals also begin to die,” she said. “This results in a loss of motor control that begins in the hind limbs, but can spread to involve the front limbs as well as the pathways that control breathing, urination, and defecation. Currently, these changes are irreversible. Advanced cases may cause difficulty breathing as well. The disease is considered to be eventually fatal.”
The signs of degenerative myelopathy often begin around eight to nine years of age in larger breeds, and small breeds may have a later onset of signs around eleven years of age. Initially, mild stumbling, weakness, or incoordination of the hind limbs may be apparent. Although both hind limbs are usually affected, one is often weaker than the other. The signs slowly progress over a period of weeks to months and the disease does not cause the dog any apparent pain.
Testing for the associated mutation is an important part of the diagnosis of degenerative myelopathy. However, some dogs that have this mutation may never develop the disease, so a positive result of the genetic test alone cannot be relied upon for diagnosis. Additionally, other health conditions may share similar signs of degenerative myelopathy.
“Compared to other common causes of chronic spinal cord injury in older dogs, degenerative myelopathy often has a slower onset and progression, and it is not painful,” Boudreau said. “However, other spinal cord diseases, such as chronic intervertebral disc herniation, and even some tumors, may appear clinically similar. A complete evaluation with diagnostics and performed by a neurologist is recommended to rule out diseases that can mimic degenerative myelopathy.”
Currently, there is no known effective medical or surgical treatment for degenerative myelopathy. However, physical rehabilitation therapy at veterinary clinics has been shown to result in longer survival times for dogs affected by the disease.
“Unfortunately, this disease progresses, with most dogs becoming unable to walk within six to nine months after the first signs appear,” Boudreau said. “Because this condition does not appear to be painful, many dogs can continue to have a good quality of life even after they become unable to walk, if provided good supportive care. Dogs that cannot walk will need an assistance device, such as a cart or harness, to help them move about.”
Additionally, severely affected dogs may need assistance to void their bladders. Regular passive exercise of the limbs, turning, and cleaning are needed to prevent limb contractures and bedsores. Although many dogs tolerate the necessary nursing care very well, it is important for owners of dogs with degenerative myelopathy to regularly communicate with their veterinarian and assess their pet’s quality of life.
Neutricks and Neutricks for Cats are an exciting new approach to healthy brain aging for the senior pet wellness market.
Based on the success of the protein “apoaequorin” (originally discovered in jellyfish) in canine trials, Neutricks developed two new supplements to support your pet’s cognitive health with a unique approach for both dogs and cats. Neutricks for Dogs has been formulated as a tasty chewable tablet that dogs love. Neutricks for Cats is available in a great tasting fish flavored sprinkle.
Neutricks is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel supplements to provide support during age-related changes in memory, cognitive performance and related issues of aging pets. The Company’s first product, Neutricks brand dietary supplement (apoaequorin), is now available for sale by veterinarians. Neutricks is backed by research that shows it helps support brain cell health.
Just like people, animals can experience mild memory problems associated with aging. A pet that seems strangely distant, confused, or disoriented, may be a candidate. More than 28 million pets (dogs and cats) in the U.S. have canine mild memory issues. Independent research and veterinarian testimonials have reported that Neutricks® has positive benefits on animals with mild memory issues. As veterinary care increases the life span of our pets, the senior pet wellness market will grow. The pet-nutritional market was valued at $2.1 billion dollars in 2007 and 43% of this figure is from the sale of pet supplements alone. Sales of pet supplements are expected to reach $1.7 billion by 2012. There is growing demand for new and effective products to meet the needs of older pets.
Better primary medical care has led to longer-lived dogs and cats, and a subsequent increase in the prevalence of senior mild memory issues. In a study at the University of California-Davis, 62% of 11- to 16-year-old dogs showed signs in at least one category of memory impairment. In a survey of pet owners, nearly half of dogs age 8 and older showed at least one sign associated with mild memory problems. The Veterinary Journal published a recent study of pets seen by veterinarians in whom they estimated that 14.2 percent of older pets presented with mild memory problems yet only 1.9% were addressing the problems.