Your thoughts and prayers meant so much when I thought our dog had been stricken by a stroke a month or two ago! Here’s an update. According to the vet, this was an inner ear problem sometimes called Canine Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome. He said there are several causes, and if it was due to something less insidious than a brain tumor, Buddy should recover fully within 14 days. Our beloved dog did recover, but it took a little longer than 14 days and he continues to have some residual effects. Does that mean it’s a brain tumor? I sure hope not.
In the meantime, we’ve all adjusted to this new way of being. Buddy is very old (15 and counting) no matter how you look at it. He still carries his head to the side. He occasionally stumbles and bumps into things. Sometimes he falls over when he shakes his head; he’s learned to stand next to us, and we’ve learned to reach out and steady him. In fact, we’ve steadied him so many times that he does what we call The Swoon: He’ll lean in to be scratched and just fall over if you’re not paying attention. He can no longer run without careening into things. He’s almost completely deaf and has been medicated for arthritis for some time. He has cataracts and one of those eyelid tumors that dogs get. The vet said it was too risky to do surgery at Buddy’s age, but it’s getting very close to touching his eyeball. What options will he have when that happens? I don’t know. I just pray whatever choices we make will be the ones he would make for himself.
Other than that, he seems quite happy and has actually earned himself some perks. He got so thin for a while that I started adding special canned food made for arthritic dogs mixed in with his kibble, and he loves it. I’ve elevated his dishes and moved the whole “dish throne” into the dining room because the rug in there is easier on his limbs and helps keep him from slipping. We joke that the dog is the only one in our house who actually dines in the dining room.
He has a bed in a very unattractive and inconvenient place right now: in the middle of everything. But when I move it to clean, Buddy stands in the spot and gives me The Pitiful Look until I put it all back. I figure his heart’s desire is to be in the midst of all of us, and this helps him to be there in comfort. He’s earned it.
He can still go in and outside and has learned to maneuver the two stairs again. This was the most important improvement of all. Carrying a sixty-pound dog down brick stairs is just not fun for any of the involved parties.
He still often whines, barks, and paces in the night for no apparent reason, but I hear that’s all part of extreme dog aging. Once my son got home from college for the summer, he started taking over so I could get enough sleep to function at work the next day. It helped immensely.
Like any care-givers, we are taking it one day at a time. We’re grateful for each one. And as always, we’re grateful for all of your prayers and good wishes!