06/18/2010 at 12:49 PM EDT
Like many senior citizens, my dog has become a creature of habit. While she's still mentally a young pup, 10 1/2-year-old golden retriever Malik has started to show her age. She's been fighting arthritis for the past year or so and spends a good chunk of the day napping on the apartment floor. While years ago any impromptu additions to her regular three-walk-a-day schedule would have generated a flurry of hyperactive tail wags, most suggestions to "go outside" are met with an eye roll and shrug these days.
I was hopeful but skeptical when I brought home the Poochplanet
Thermacare memory foam pet bed a few weeks ago. Built specifically for arthritic and elderly dogs, the pillow-shaped cushion contours to the canine body, using heat and pressure responsive memory foam to equalize distribution of body weight and reduce pressure points. After placing the bed on the floor, I rolled about half my body on it and found myself wishing they made a human size one. I lured Malik over and convinced her to try it out. She sat on it awkwardly and quickly moved away several minutes later.
When it comes to resting spots, my dog usually prefers three places: the bathroom floor, kitchen floor or on top of my bed. In the hot summer months, she retreats to either floor. While it's probably not the most comfortable or best spot given her joints, she likes the cool surface compared to one that is covered by rugs. She prefers my bed during the rest of the year, a habit she got into as a puppy that I never really bothered to correct.
I was hoping that the dog bed would give her the best of both worlds, but she continued to resist. Every once in awhile she'd use it as a head pillow or nest herself against it, but it didn't seem to appeal to her, especially on 80-degree days when the heat and pressure responsive memory foam was probably making her even warmer.
After two weeks, I kept encouraging her to try the pet bed, especially since I see how much trouble she has pushing herself off the floor these days. She still refused to indulge me. Imagine my surprise when I came in from running some errands one day and found her nestled on top of it, with both eyes navigating between consciousness and dreamland. I'm hoping this will become a regular thing because it seems like it can help her joints and might finally contribute to keeping my own bed a little cleaner.
The Poochplanet bed comes with a machine washable cover that is much more drool proof than a regular comforter. The beds are available at Wal-Mart
and priced at $40, making them affordable enough to take a chance that your old dog might be willing to stray from the routine a little.See more dog beds on PEOPLEPets.com:Madison Avenue Mutts: Dog Beds in DisguiseCozy Hideaway: Pillow-Stuffed Sleeping Bags for Dogs