Indulge me one pic tonight. My sister just sent me this.
This captures the essence of the dog so beautifully. After five years as our only child, he so willingly accepted two additional babies into the pack, tolerating all the abuse they dished out, never once threatening or menacing. There were a few times where he decided he had enough, and in those, he just walked away. But it was mostly this. If you’re ever thinking about a breed that goes well with kids, think Lab.
We’re actually all doing OK here tonight, thanks in part to everyone’s kind words and good thoughts. It was a hell of a good run.
Some encouraging dog news today.
Jake’s recent spate of problems are of a musculoskeletal nature. He is having obvious problems with his back legs, and he can’t really navigate stairs all that well as a result. It’s a serious problem: he needs to go down/up six steps to get outside, and there is a full flight of thirteen upstairs to where we sleep. Since he can’t get up there, he sits at the bottom of the stairs and barks the saddest bark you’ve ever heard when we go up to bed. All night. We’ve been taking turns sleeping on an air mattress downstairs so he doesn’t stroke out. He’s earned that much from us.
We found a new vet. We absolutely love our old one, but they are far away, near where we used to live in the city, and getting him in and out of the car is an issue right now. We found a vet out here who does house calls. He came by today and did some very interesting tests to demonstrate that it’s not really pain or arthritis that is hampering him (though there is surely some of that, too). The real problem, it seems, is that a major nerve to his legs is impinged due to a disc or arthritis or something in his spine, and he has lost muscle strength and proprioception as a result.
Yes, that’s right: my dog has a bad back. It’s almost humorous.
So, the vet is prescribing some of the exact same medications I took and we’ll see how it goes. He also did some kind of treatment with a laser, rubbing it right up and down his spine. Jake seemed to like it.
The vet made the point that we need to consider not just Jake’s quality of life, but ours, too, as we have these difficult conversations. I mean, the status quo would be OK for a while, but this is not really long-term sustainable. However, if he can get up and down the stairs again, he seems otherwise healthy enough to be here a good while longer. Fingers crossed. Thank you for your mojo and other good thoughts in the meantime.
The old dog is home and resting, not in any apparent pain or distress. We’re still not quite sure what happened — a small stroke, a seizure, or maybe he just fell because he’s old. They ran some tests and we’re watching and waiting.
If I live to be a million years old, I will not forget the sight of my daughter, fresh home from her first day of kindergarten, saying goodbye to him and “helping” him down the stairs by gently pushing his butt. I could barely start the car.
Anyway, thank you for your continued good energy. He’s been part of the family for almost thirteen years. Hard to imagine it any other way.
Sunday: celebrate dog birthday, remark on his good health.
Thursday: dog vomits all night, trip to the emergency vet shows possible bowel obstruction.
I see what you did there, Universe. Fuck you, too.
Good thoughts kindly accepted today as the story develops…
Sundog, birthday edition!
We adopted Jake from a farm downstate. There were three mama dogs on that farm and all of them had litters at about the same time. It was kind of a casual situation, and by the time we got there, no one knew exactly which puppies had been born on which day, though they were all born in early January according to the farmer.
So, we decided to observe Jake’s birthday on January 8 since it was Elvis’ birthday. The codger pictured here is 12 today, which I think is longer than Elvis made it if you do the conversion, and after a couple of scares a while back (liver disease, splenectomy) is doing remarkably well for a big, old dog.
I’m going to take him for a long walk by the river in a little bit. He’ll snoot around under the oak leaf carpet, pee on every third tree, maybe eat a stick, consider jumping in the river to get a duck but decide to just bark at them instead, and terrorize all the squirrels. It’s a good life.
Because things had been going pretty well for a few consecutive days, the Universe decides, in its perfect and infinite wisdom, to give me a badly limping dog today.
Turns out just to be a sprain, so a week of rest and NSAIDs should do it for the old boy.
But: sheesh, Universe.