Living with old dogs…it’s an adventure, to put it kindly.
A rollercoaster, even.
I’ve been sharing more of my old dog stories lately.
It’s what my life is like these days. I’m thankful for Schooner because while he’s middle aged (4 is getting up there for some Great Danes), he’s still playful and agile.
So my old girl, Lily, is 15 and 3 months.
Yes, at age 15, she gets credit for every month — when she’s 15 and a half, I may even start giving her credit for the weeks. Her canine cognitive dysfunction is in high gear. Her eyesight is getting worse, and I fear her hearing has completely abandoned her. I have self-diagnosed her with degenerative myelopathy, too. [I’m a dog trainer, not a veterinarian, so obviously, don’t rely on me or this blog for veterinary advice. Consult with your veterinarian for veterinary advice.] I’ll write another blog post about all these issues later, I just want to give you a glimpse into my crazy life and my crazy brain.
Early in the morning, around 5:15a, Lily fell out of bed.
No worries, the mattresses are directly on the floor to ensure she can still sleep on the bed and to be sure that when she does get out of bed (onto the carpeted floor) she doesn’t hurt herself. I heard her and I waited for her to get up and walk into the hallway, which is my cue to get up, follow her, and let her out to go to the bathroom.
But there was no noise. No movement.
I throw the covers off, flip the light on, and there she is, lying just as she fell. I go over to her, put my arms under her shoulders (at which point she usually rights herself and I then help her up). Nothing.
She still doesn’t move.
She’s breathing, she’ll even blink if I move my hand toward her face. But no movement. I call for my husband who is getting ready to leave for work. He gets on one end, I’m on the other and we lift her up. I’m sure she’ll start to move, stiffen her body, or somehow show some sort of indication that she’s aware of what’s happening and will try to help.
She’s breathing regularly, her gums are nice and pink, she blinks as I move my hand toward her eye. I watch her for another 15 minutes before the other dogs come in and tell me it’s their breakfast time. Confident I’m going to be calling my husband later in the day to tell him Lily has died, I reluctantly take care of the other dogs and get their breakfast ready.
Before I’m finished getting their breakfast ready, here comes Lily, be-bopping into the kitchen looking well-rested and ready for the day.
I laughed and laughed. That’s Lily. We joke that she’s like a Timex — takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. She’s a tank: she’s not fast, but there’s nothing that can stop her. We know her time is coming, and it’s not too far in the future. But I believe that right up until that very minute, she’ll be trucking on — over and through anything that’s in her way.
So until that time comes, I’ll still check her breathing (at least) five times a day while she’s sleeping to make sure she’s still alive, I’ll clean up after her (the degenerative myelopathy contributes to her incontinence), and our house will look like a wayward home for throw rugs and runners (to help her keep her footing on our hardwood and tile floors).
Greg Pike says
Laurie, I live with a 17-year old bichon, Prince, who suffers pretty much everything Lily is going through. We don’t have mattresses by the bed (but thick rugs) but we’ve had times where he falls off the bed despite the pillow fort we surround him with. Amazingly, despite the falls, he rarely hurts himself and once we prop him back up, is back to his tail-wagging self. But like you, when he’s deeply sleeping, we always check to make sure he’s still breathing at times, and have increased the use of throw rugs on our hardwood floors. And when it’s dinner time, he may not be able to see or hear well, but his nose definitely works(!) and he knows his food is being made! 🙂
Nicole Hughes says
I recently (9 months ago) parted with my 15 year old baby Osa. She was 15 years and 1 month when she passed. I can really relate to your story. She was most likely deaf and almost blind. She had a hard time getting up and was incontinent. But she didn’t let it get her down. Right up until she let me know it was time she was as active and bright eyed as she could be. I still cry when I think of her. She was my heart dog and I’ll love her forever.
Laurie, I recently had to put my dog to rest as she was in so much pain. Although it was very sad to let her go, I have so many memories with her, and it brings me so much joy to know that she lived a happy life. Thank you so much for sharing! your post brought back many happy memories. Thanks again!
Lily, I have a Great Dane who will be 9 years old in August. Xena has always been a wonderful, well mannered shy dog who aims to please. She has always been fearful of loud noises and strangers. I recently went to Texas for 8 days leaving her in the care of my husband because I don’t believe she would fair very well being boarded in a strange place. While I was gone, my husband informed me that she was acting strange and would not go out to potty. She will whine and acts like she wants to potty but when she gets to the door she acts like she has seen a ghost and runs back to the living room. When I returned home the strange behavior continued. We live on a farm with no neighbors. I also have a 1 year old Dane named Zoe who is totally opposite. I am wondering if Xena may be suffering from some sort of psychological problem. She never potty’s in the house yet the other night she got up and did #2 on her mattress. I am so perplexed. Please help!