Senior Dogs: a series of portraits of six elderly and special dogs
The audio is in Hungarian.
Part 1: Füli. 'I couldn't have had a better dog,' says Dóri. 'He was small, couldn't do anything on his own, and was very dependent on me. When he was a year old, his chin opened, he became very independent, and then he was the one who looked after me. Now that he's deaf, it's a bit of a reversal for me to have to look after him.' Dóri also went on night trips with Dóri. She put a red bike flashlight on his collar and followed him in the dark. 'He's just like a red blinker. You can follow him if you need to. He's been with me for 14 and a half years now.' Dóri has been fostering Phillip, whom she took in from a shelter since he was just a few days old. In 2003, Füli took part in the Wolf Programme of the Department of Ethology at ELTE, in which researchers compared the behavior of dogs and wolves that had been raised in the same environment. Füli remained a loyal companion for the rest of Dóri's life. She is still active at 14.5 years old, but now she is helping us to learn more about the aging process in dogs through the Senior Family Dog Programme. In the first episode of our Senior Dogs series, we meet Dóri and Füli.
Episode 2: Dodi. Dodi was born in a shelter in Vác 15 years ago and was 7 days old when Anita brought her home. 'She is not rude to any animals,' says her owner. Her first autumn hairs appeared in her fur when Anita went away for two weeks. Hand-rearing has formed a very strong bond between them. Dodi's hearing and eyesight are not what they used to be, and she has difficulty getting up, but otherwise, she has never had any problems. Anita says the loving, careful care has given Dodi many years of life, and although she has become a bit of a crotchety spinster in her old age, she still brings much joy. 'They are good together, still, thankfully.' Anita has been fostering Dodi since she was just a few days old when she adopted her from a shelter. In 2003, Dodi took part in the Wolf Programme of the Department of Ethology at ELTE, in which researchers compared the behavior of dogs and wolves that were raised in the same environment. Dodi remained a loyal companion for the rest of Anita's life. Still active at nearly 15 years old, she is now helping us learn more about dog aging in the Senior Family Dog Program. In the second episode of our Senior Dogs series, we meet Anita and Dodi.
Part 3: Oscar. 'Oscar came to me a few days ago, in May 2003. We raised him from a bottle; he also comes from the shelter in Vác. When he was 12 years old, I could see that he was still very eager to come to the [therapy] group, but the 40-minute session was too much for him. Then he retired. At the age of 13 and a half he started to go downhill... He's now definitely deaf in one ear and I think he only sees shadows. It's hard to accept... He's more neurotic; if something unpleasant happens to him, it takes longer to process. Oscar is quite a big part of the reason I became a dog trainer. I teach 25 hours a week as a therapy instructor... Only a dog couldn't do that. Oscar is retired, but the other four dogs are working every day. I call Oscar a 'sacred cow' because no one can touch him or hurt him. He gets along with the other dogs, but now he interacts less and less. He is more difficult to move, more stiff, more bound. But he's over 14, so he's actually doing very well.... I think he's lived a very full life. I hope he's here for a long time. He likes to live. I'm trying to make sure that the next few years - I don't know how many more - are spent in a way that he's happy.' - Bea Belényi, dog trainer. In 2003, Oscar participated in the Wolf Programme of the Department of Ethology at ELTE, in which researchers compared the behavior of dogs and wolves that were raised in the same environment. Oscar remained a loyal companion for the rest of Bea's life. Still active at almost 15 years old, he is now helping us learn more about the aging of dogs through the Senior Family Dog Programme. In the third episode of our Senior Dogs series, we meet Bea and Oscar.
Episode 4: Tódor. 'I did my thesis and PhD at the Department of Ethology. When I started my PhD, we started the dog-wolf comparison project. Tódor was my second puppy, and I was lucky to have him for the rest of his life... He has grown old since then, but we did a lot of things together. Tódi is the creature who has been with me the longest. I left Hungary to work in Austria and he came with me. Now he can't hear much, he has cataracts, he sleeps a lot, and he's unconsciously food motivated. But when we meet a bitch in heat, he rejuvenates. Todi has taught me tolerance and adaptability. We worked and lived together in many places, he found his place everywhere, he was loved by my colleagues and friends. He never wanted to hurt anyone, but he always managed to live the way he wanted to live. He has created a life for himself that suits him perfectly, with respect for others.' - Dr. Zsófia Virányi, ethology researcher and founder of the Wolf Science Center in Austria. In 2003, Tódor participated in the Wolf Programme of the Department of Ethology at ELTE, where researchers compared the behavior of dogs and wolves that were raised in the same environment. Tódor has remained Zsófi's loyal companion throughout her life. Still active at almost 15 years old, he is now helping us learn more about the aging of dogs in the Senior Family Dog Programme. In the fourth episode of our Senior Dogs series, we meet Zsófi and Tódor.
Episode 5: Mau. 'Mau came to me in 2003. We have very different personalities. They say that a dog is like its owner, but Mau is an exception. He was a very extroverted, temperamental, bouncy, pushy dog. We brought her in when she was 5-6 days old with her eyes still closed. We didn't have children then; he was the absolute center of attention. We went to dog school on weekends and I took him to the university during the week. While I was working in the [Ethology] Department, he came with me practically every day. He's not a hiding dog. He always wants to do something: go, play, run. He was very demanding. No matter how much we played with him, he would come back after an hour. He has had several injuries, his joints are bad. One time he stepped on something, his leg swelled up, and he limped. Then he suddenly went grey. He was very affected by this illness. He recovered, but he can move very little. But I think he has had a good life in this family.' - Borbála Győri. Mau participated in the Wolf Programme of the Department of Ethology at ELTE in 2003, in which researchers compared the behavior of dogs and wolves raised in the same environment. Mau remained Bori's loyal companion throughout her life. Still active at nearly 15 years old, she is now helping us learn more about dog aging in the Senior Family Dog Program. In the fifth episode of our Senior Dogs series, we meet Bori and Mau.
Part 6: Kefir. Kefir is the dog of the Dogs for People Foundation. He has worked as a service dog for his disabled owner all his life. In retirement, he was returned to his foster parent, Orsi, who is expecting a baby. Kefir is one of the first dogs in the world to be taught how the brain works while awake, as his trainer also taught him to lie still for 6-8 minutes during fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans. Kefir is now helping us in the Senior Family Dog Programme to learn more about aging in dogs. In the sixth episode of our senior dog series, we meet Orsi, László, and Kefir.