Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


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!

What a wretched lot of old shriveled creatures we shall be by-and-by. Never mind—the uglier we get in the eyes of others, the lovelier we shall be to each other; that has always been my firm faith about friendship. ~George Eliot


  1. What a wonderful family Buddy has. His own dining room, a special sleeping area — the things true dog-lovers do for their beloved pets as they age. I love to read of families like yours.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Buddy is so lucky to be a member of your family. It's warming and heartbreaking to care for a geriatric dog - and big dogs don't seem to get much lighter in their latter days! I wish Buddy (we had a Buddy until last year) peace and love and dignity. These wonderful animals are so very special.

  3. Buddy has so much character in his face and eyes. He's a lucky pup to be so spoiled, and your family is lucky too, because you get the love of Buddy to enjoy.

  4. I'm glad Buddy has made some improvements. He seems to be happy and getting along reasonably well. As far as the future goes, you'll know when the time comes to say good-bye...


  5. Shadow, Bamba, Mouse and I are all pulling for you Buddy, prayers as well. Please don't think I'm crazy but try local honey. My oldest Shadow has inner ear troubles and it has helped immensely. And if your interested I have a recipe for a great frozen treat. One last thing, he is so darn cute!! :D
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. If Buddy could talk, I bet he'd have some loving things to say about you and your family. It is tough dealing with a geriatric pet; to love them so much and watch their decline is painful, and yet we wouldn't give up the years we've shared with them for anything. Buddy sounds like he's making the most of things, staying close to those he loves. God bless.

  7. Your kind thoughts and comforting words mean more than I can say. You brought tears to my eyes. Same back to all of you and the beloved pets who've inspired you.

  8. My heart aches...tears well. Buddy is in good loving hands tho, I can tell!!! Awwwwwww, such a precious, wonderful furbaby!!

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