Longevity Tips

Zuko's Tips for Longevity

Zuko the Dog and his baby


SNUGGLE UP WITH YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS OFTEN. If you give them a lot of attention, they will almost always return it. Frequent hugs and kisses from humans is the key to happiness. It is a wonderful feeling to know you’re loved.

IT’S OKAY TO EAT “TABLE SCRAPS,” BUT ONLY LEAN HEALTHY TABLE SCRAPS. My parents never give me fat. Don’t ever eat chocolate, onions, grapes or raisins because they are toxic to you. If your family doesn’t give you scraps, it may be because your vet told them not to. I came to my family already knowing what scraps were because I lived on the streets for a while. When mommy and daddy adopted me, they fed me dog food mixed with lean cuts of mostly chicken and turkey, some lunch meat and cheese, and once in a while beef.

IT’S HEALTHY FOR YOU TO DRINK FILTERED WATER, but never drink from puddles. Any time my mommy and daddy have had filtered water, they have given it to me too. For the past seven years of my life they have had an Arrowhead account, so I also drink Arrowhead water.

Zuko yawning

GO FOR WALKS OFTEN and don’t just lay around in the yard. I have been very lucky that my mommy and daddy walk me at least four times a day. I have also gotten a lot of exercise through climbing stairs. Even though there was an elevator choice, mommy and daddy wanted me to climb stairs to keep my heart healthy. I could climb them by myself until I turned 15. Going for walks is good for your family too. Not only will it help keep them healthy, but they will meet their neighbors and get to know the neighborhood. Everyone will be more happy because of it. It’s a win-win reward.

LISTEN TO MUSIC. My daddy plays classical guitar for me all the time. My favorite song is Cavatina and I always fall asleep, it is so pretty and relaxing. When he started to play Flamenco guitar music, it made me nervous so I’d get up and walk away. Mommy plays flute and I like the low notes best. If someone in your family plays an instrument, enjoy it with them. If they don’t, hopefully they will turn on some calming music for you to listen to once in a while.

CAR RIDES ARE THE BEST. I love going for a ride. Stick your head out the window and let the wind blow in your fur. Lately I’ve enjoyed the breeze in the back seat and once in a while mommy will prop me up in her lap while daddy drives and let me stick my head out the window, just like old times.

Serious Zuko

GO ALONG FOR SHORT TRIPS. Don’t go if it’s too hot outside, and always remind your parents to crack the windows even if the weather is cool. Make sure they lock the doors too. There are dog nappers out there.

TAKE LOTS OF NAPS. It is important for you to get your zzzs. Undisturbed sleep is valuable to pets as well as humans. My parents bought me a few cushy beds and put them around our home. Sometimes I still feel like sleeping on the floor, but I get to lay where I want to. Maybe your family will buy you extra beds too. As your muzzle grays, it is important to have cushy beds to lay on when you feel like it.

GET YOUR FAMILY TO THROW THE BALL AROUND FOR YOU. It is so much fun and great exercise, and it helps you to be a good sport. My parents played ‘Zuko in the middle’ and had me chasing the ball back and forth, and then they’d let me catch it once in a while so I wouldn’t get frustrated. We all have to win sometime.

GET YOUR FAMILY TO PLAY GAMES WITH YOU. Daddy liked to hide my treats and have me find them. Sometimes he would challenge me and put them in a box and I would have to figure out how to get them out. It kept me smart.

GET A GOOD MASSAGE ONCE IN A WHILE. Just like people, pets get sore muscles too. Once in a while it feels so good to get a massage. Human touch makes me feel good.

Zuko at the Park

EXPRESS YOURSELF. Bark and play and lick and have fun. Be a dog, but always know there is a right time for everything.

MY PARENTS ALWAYS KEPT ME ON A LEASH. It’s not only the law here in Los Angeles, but they knew that something would catch my attention and I’d run after it… probably right into the street. I’m thankful my parents were watching out over me.

HAVE SOMETHING ELSE TO LOVE TOO. Whether it is another dog or kitty, or a fluffy stuffed animal your family bought for you, it’s important to have something to love. I am an ‘only doggy,’ but when I’m by myself I am never alone because I have my stuffed fluffy babies with me. I prefer being with my mommy and daddy, but I know I can’t always be, so my stuffed furry babies keep me company until they come home, and besides, they never bark back at me.

JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE A SENIOR DOG DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO EAT SENIOR FOOD. For most of my life I never stopped being a puppy. I was thin and energetic so my parents kept giving me adult food, and I ate 3 meals a day like my family. I tried senior food a couple of times and didn’t really like it. If you exercise and keep slender, you won’t have to eat senior food.

KEEP A ROUTINE. My family keeps me on somewhat of a routine, otherwise it stresses me out. That way I know what to expect.

PROTECT YOUR FAMILY AND THEY WILL PROTECT YOU. My dad once wrestled me out of the jaws of a pit bull. Five stitches to the back of my neck and I was okay again. My dad is one tough daddy.

Zuko suns himself

TAKE YOUR FRUSTRATIONS OUT ON A GOOD CHEW TOY. My parents never had to worry about me destroying their place.

HELP OUT A FRIEND. Remember there are lots of fellow dogs and cats that are in shelters that need a good home. Suggest a shelter animal to your family.

SMILE A LOT. LOVE A LOT. HAVE FUN. Always have fun. That is me below. Thank goodness I only had to go through that once in my life for photos. My parents keep threatening that if I’m not a good boy they will dress me up as the Big Bad Wolf for Halloween and take me around the neighborhood. I promised to be good.

YOU PROTECTED THEM. NOW IT IS THEIR TURN TO PROTECT YOU. When I grew old my legs stopped working. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, but I was afraid my time was coming to an end. I was lucky because even though mommy called me her “big boy,” I was not a large, heavy dog and my parents were willing and able to help me through this challenging time. They still knew I was happy being with them, and they kept trying. I wasn’t ready to check out yet. All I could say was, “Thank you for letting me live.

Zuko in costume

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