So, It Has Come to This

This … started out as needing a boost getting in and out of the truck. It happened when Teresa and Nollind got a new truck that was higher than the old one, so I wrote it off as being just that, a taller truck.

This … is a wooden step being added to the bottom of the fifth wheel stairs. They raised the fifth wheel axle last year, to better match the truck when overnighting without unhitching, so, again, I chalked it up to equipment changes, not aging.

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Partway through last winter in the desert, this … was a small staircase added to the bedroom so I could get up on the bed and, more importantly, have an alternative to jumping down.

This … is the plethora of pills and supplements that I get fed on a regular basis to keep things working. Two medications for my arthritis, three for the heart condition, Legend and Cartrophen injected every couple of weeks, and a joint supplement tablet as big as my foot that I really don’t like the taste of. Hide that in a pill pocket! And then there’s the renal diet. Yes, you read that correctly. A low protein diet, for me, a dyed-in-the-wool meat lover!

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This … is being assisted up and down the basement stairs and being blocked at night from going on my own. How embarrassing.

This … is missing most of the day because I’m sleeping all but a couple of hours.

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This … is being left behind when Teresa goes to town or for a walk and takes Chico along.

This … is not hearing them leave.

This … is having my walks cut to 45 minutes, then 30, and now sometimes just 20. I rarely leave the property anymore.

This … is being lifted out of the fifth wheel (actually carried down the stairs!) during our latest Sid trip.

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This … is words like prognosis and life expectancy popping up in conversations with the vet.

You could say this kinda sucks. But I’m adjusting, it’s what we dogs do, live in the moment, take life as it comes. We don’t dwell on what was, only enjoy what is.

This is just life, this dog’s life, this dog’s getting older, this dog’s journey. So …

This … is a walk around the back forty on a warm, fall day.

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This is playing with my favourite toys (and tiring myself out).

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This is cuddle time with my people on my magnetic therapy mat.

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This is spending time with friends.

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This is a tasty treat (even tastier now that they’ve added an appetite stimulant to my pharmaceutical cocktail).

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This is that rush I get when I stick my head out the car window while driving.

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And best of all, this … is a free pass, a get out of jail free card if you will, a license to do just about anything I please. Want a breath of fresh air at 2 am? Just make a little noise. We old guys can’t hold it like we used to, especially when you give us a diuretic for our heart condition. Best let me out. Feel like some quiet time alone in the yard?  Just give them that look from wherever I’m lying, the one that says, “Are you really going to make me come in? Hard to say how much longer I’ll be able to do this.” Don’t feel like eating dog food? “Gee, my stomach doesn’t feel so good but I could probably force down a bit of that chicken you’re eating.”

As with everything in life, this is all in how you look at it.

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Ten Steps to Healing

Before Chico writes yet another blog post about my condition (he thinks I don’t read his posts), I thought I’d better get a word in. Actually … three words. It’s not good. In fact, based on just how bad it’s been, when they told me I was going to the vet, it had an ominous ring to it.

You humans might not understand what I’m talking about since, with humans, there is no trip to the family doctor you’re not going to return from. In the world of pets, especially when we get old or sick or injured, a trip to the vet can be like a scene from “Dead Man Walking”.

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Okay, I’m being a bit morbid, but it’s true. It’s likely that at some point in my future there’ll be a journey to the vet that I won’t return from, or the Strathmore vet that makes house calls will be at our door. It’s just the reality of life as a dog. And it’s okay. We appreciate not being left to suffer endlessly as is sometimes the fate of humans. Not sure why the human species is more compassionate toward its animals than its own kind. But that’s not for a mere dog to sort out.

So, my leg. It’s basically screwed. Worn out. Used up. Damaged beyond rescue. Done. There’s just no sugar coating it. For whatever reason, that one part of my body, my right elbow, had a shorter shelf-life than the rest of me and I seem to have run beyond its best-before date. You know how that thing in the fridge gets a just little fuzzy at first but then starts to smell up the whole fridge? Well, that’s my leg. What I could ignore for a long time is now making it difficult for me to live a normal canine life.

Sucks, right? I know.

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This part of normal canine life I can still manage.

But, in my corner, I have Teresa and Nollind, who will do whatever they can to help me live as long and quality a life as possible given the circumstances. The good news is, the trip to the vet today was not a “dead dog walking” scenario (which you’ve probably guessed since I’m writing this blog), but a “what else can we do” visit to a vet they’ve come to respect and trust through her care of our horses over the years. In fact, she was the vet who sorted the horse skin problem from a few years back, when two other vet offices couldn’t figure it out. On top of her experience and her attention to all of the latest research in animal health, she’s a dog person.

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Waiting for my vet appointment.

The vet spent an hour with us, going over all of the possible solutions and outcomes. Turns out there are no bionic elbows or legs for dogs (damn it), at least none that were discussed, and surgery of any kind isn’t a good option given my age. I’m not sure I’d like the only surgical solution anyway, a fused elbow. Wouldn’t it be difficult to walk with a joint that no longer bends? Ruling out surgery, there was a detailed discussion of medications, dosages, and costs that I pretended to sleep through but didn’t miss a word. My people opted for the “full meal deal” (Yes! I knew they wouldn’t let me down), the equivalent of what the doctor said she’d do if I were hers.

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The program.

 

The appointment finished with the tech giving me an IV shot of Legend (a horse medication to be repeated every two weeks) and sent us home with a bag full of medicines and supplements as well as instructions to increase some of my existing medication. At this stage, it seems to be the “throw everything at it and see what sticks” approach, a ten-step program.

I’m good with that. It beats the alternative six ways to Sunday.

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Coffee/tea stop after the vet. That is the face of a relieved dog!

 

Hear No Evil

As a member of one of the more sensitive dog breeds (and smart but that’s for another blog post), I’ve always been a bit more, shall we say, aware, of strange, loud, or otherwise bothersome sounds. Things that beep, for instance, which includes many household objects: the stove when it comes back on after a power outage, the battery backups on the computer equipment, the dreaded smoke detector.

 

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I’ve spent my fair share of time hiding in closets.

 

And then there are cell phones. Why can’t they just ring like the phones of my puppyhood? There are umpteen different rings, chirps, beeps, and chimes, most of which are alarming to my ears.

Movies and television shows are chock full of disturbing noises—explosions, gun shots, roaring engines, booming music, to name just a few. What is the human obsession with all things noisy?

 

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What’s that noise?!

 

If it were safe outdoors, I’d just spend my time there, but then Nollind starts up the compressor or, horrors, a nail gun, a thunderstorm rolls in, or some duck hunter is firing off rounds. And then there’s fireworks. Seriously, whoever invented that crap must have been a real dog hater. Scares the bejesus out of most of us canines.

 

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One of our hair-raising summer thunderstorms rolling in.

 

In 2012 we were on our first RV trip over the Christmas holidays and Teresa and Nollind took us walking on a beach at Oceanside on New Year’s Eve. We went early, so that we’d be tucked in safe and sound at midnight when the fireworks started. At least that was the plan. At 8:00, the sky exploded just up the beach and if I hadn’t been attached to my people with a sturdy leash, it’s possible I’d still be running along the coast of California.

 

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The beach was great during the day.

 

And it’s not just me. A lot of dogs are sensitive to noise. My buddy Aspen, who lived with Teresa and Nollind when I first came, used to run blind as soon as she heard a gunshot, even if it was so far off it was imperceptible to anyone but her. In fact, it was what did her in in the end. She ran right into a tractor in one of her panicked states and damaged herself beyond repair. Poor silly, sweet girl.

 

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Aspen.

 

Other than that night on the beach, I’ve never been panicked by noise quite like Aspen, but lately, it’s like I hardly notice noises at all. An abrupt bang or a loud sneeze will launch me out of a nap but, generally, the world has become a lot quieter. Teresa and Nollind think I’m going deaf in my old age, but I don’t know about that. I still hear the important stuff, like the fridge door, a cheese wrapper, or someone driving into the yard. Maybe hearing just becomes more selective as we age, so I’ve opted out of thunderstorms and gunshots and the like.

 

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An undisturbed sleep.

 

Whether it’s loss of hearing or just being more selective, lately the world is a quieter, friendlier place for a sensitive dog, and that’s a good thing.

 

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This photo’s not really on topic, but it does feature ears, and we just had to post it somewhere.