Friday, March 26, 2010

Hanging In There

So I'm off to Dublin in just a few days now and while I'm looking forward to it last week a situation reared its ugly head that had me a little concerned.

It was Friday night and the old fellow had not really looked right since I'd been home. He'd thrown up overnight and had done so the day before as well and he just wasn't himself. Listless is probably how I'd describe him. Even as he has aged, and he has aged quite a bit this winter, he has not lost his essential dogginess. He is cheerful and he is affectionate and he hovers outside of the dining room waiting for the baby to declare that supper is over by tossing the remnants of her food onto the floor, whereupon the cleaning staff (him) rushes in and does its duty.

But for a couple of days he had been doing nothing but laying by the door, which is his normal spot and activity, but no welcome was there from him for me when I came home, no bated breath waiting for the splat of chicken on the hardwood, no wagging tail for any of the kids. His breathing had become pronounced when he slept and at night I could no longer hear him wandering the main floor as he often does.

And so as he lay there on the kitchen floor I sat down beside him and rubbed his greying head and even then, no happy wag, no lean into my hand, no contented sigh.

And so I sat with him and held him for a while.

The next morning I came down to find him panting heavily. We walked into the kitchen and he stood beside his water dish, which was full.

For five minutes this went on as I asked him to please have a drink. Nothing.

I walked over and picked up the water dish and dumped it and filled it and then he acted as if I had just filled an empty dish except he took one lap and then stopped.

My wife came home from work and I told her I was worried and she said that he's been dying for three years now goddamnit and I told her to just keep an eye for the next ten minutes and after that she looked at me and then she went over and gave him a pat on the head and she looked at me and said, oh, poor old Ben.

And then being practical she asked what would happen if he passed while I was away. He's tipping the scales at around seventy five pounds and we live fifteen steps up from the street and unless she was going to launch him from the porch on a toboggan she was going to have an issue.

Not to worry I assured her and I emailed a buddy of mine down the street with what is certainly one of the weirdest favours he's ever been asked but he's a good guy and so he agreed that if worse came to worse he'd come over and help dispose of the big fellow's earthly remains.

Now I'm happy to relay that it must have just been a flu or perhaps he just had a bad couple of days or maybe he got a hold of some bad cheese because he's turned it around and he's back in the canine saddle if there was such a thing. Last night he slurped some succotash that had tumbled to the floor and after dinner we walked down the street and while his top speed these days is a fast walk he did manage that and he got up those stairs besides, all the while his tail a wagging and sure enough when we came into the house, both of us dumb grins a mile wide, the wife looked over and sighed and said, three years, three years.

So things are back to normal and while everytime the boy mentions the August birthday when the old man turns thirteen he throws in the caveat 'if he makes it', it definitely looks better than it did a week ago and here's hoping that warm summer air loosens up those old bones and puts a spring back into that step at least for a little while.

Have a great weekend everybody.


MikeP said...

Here's to hoping the old boy holds out long enough, man... The inevitable sucks, even when you know it's coming. I've been in your spot before.

andy grabia said...

Thank God. I know how you love that dog (just a tiny, tiny bit more than your wife and kids, I think). Glad to hear he is doing better.

rubbertrout said...

I feel for you man. My dog just turned 7 and that was an eye openeing experience for me because I've always thought of the little man as a pup. Now I see dog food for "seniors" that say 7+. Here's hoping the big man holds out and remains happy and healthy for a long time to come.

thenorthernlight said...

I came here looking for Oilers talk but instead I found a man is exactly where I was last year. I had my dog put down after 15 years and it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Cherish what time you have fella, friends like that only come around once in a lifetime

Chappy said...

I'm pulling for the big guy, Pat.

Best to you.

macaotim said...

Thanks a I'm sad. I miss my dog Willow now more than ever. We had to leave her in Edmonton while we are on this China experiment. She was/is an always willing running partner, a good hunting buddy and a nice hot water bottle under the covers when I am sick. Not to mention the most gentle dog with babies ever. Ahhh Willow, Dada's coming home soon!

Black Dog said...

Thanks for all the kind words all. I'm as ready as I'll ever be I guess and he's getting damn old. The vet said last checkup that he was perfect and I said we had different definitions of perfect I think and he said well he's alive and he's over twelve and that's damn good so there you go.

Just gave him a pretty good rubdown and wrestle and he's got a big smile going and so do I. Its a good way to end a long week.

Tim - I left him for eight months myself when he was pretty young, that's tough.

Ribs said...

I was eating supper at my parents house the other night and I noticed one of their old dogs (14yrs I believe) was holding her leg funny. She was still standing by the table, begging for food, like always, but holding her leg up funny. We went to check her and she tried to put some weight on her leg. She yelped, and fell to the floor. What the heck? She was just standing there! She yelped when we tried to move her and we figured her hip or knee or something had to have blown out. My dad proclaimed "She's a gonner. Yep"

I tried to haul her over to the carpet because she was having trouble moving around and there was some real worry in the room. I got her about half way before she started howling. What the hell do I do? I kept going until I reached the carpet. My parents gave her one of our old dogs pain pills (my Dad's best pal passed away just months ago) and she calmed down a bit. We waited about 15 minutes until she tried to get up. We still didn't really know what was wrong with her. She flopped back down once but got herself up the second time and managed to three legged jump onto the couch. I guess she was okay...?

The vet wasn't open so they watched her for the night and the next day she was hobbling quite a bit but it wasn't nearly as bad as maybe we had thought. The vet the next day tells us she has arthritis in her knee and pulled a muscle. She's fine.

My dad's old boy lasted quite a while on his cheap heart pills and he seemed pretty content. My girlfriends uncles dog has outlasted him it seems and he still greets me at the door most times when we go visit. If he doesn't, and it's a bad day, I make sure to go give him a scruff behind the collar. I guess when I was a kid I always thought when your dog is having problems like them, you put it down. It was the humane thing to do. But these guys can last longer than you'd think. And they're happy buggers. And it's a great thing.

I think your guy has still has a ways to go. Try not to worry too much, and just have fun with him.

Halfwise said...

Guys whether it's us or our pets or our parents, we are all making our way across a foggy field towards a gate that we know is out there somewhere, but we can't see it. Sometimes fate shoves us or a loved one out through the gate unexpectedly; some just get to amble along year after year, some bitch with every step and make life miserable for those nearby.

Enjoy each day. Maybe your real job is to leave footprints of the true and highest you.

Seems to me that is what Pat is doing. Thanks for letting us see how it can be done, Pat.

HBomb said...

Let's hope the big guy has one more summer and a couple more raccoon ass-munchings left in him...

Black Dog said...

Thanks Halfwise, HBomb and Ribs.

Ribs - doing my best but you're right, its best just to enjoy each day, sometimes I lose sight of that. I hope you're right and he has a lot of time left but we'll just do our best to enjoy what we have.

Bruce said...

Glad to hear Ben has bounced back from this episode. Enjoy those moments that you have with him, this is bonus time so make the most of it.

Funny how the bigger dogs have a shorter life expectancy. I had three small dogs that lived to 15, 15 and 13, then we got Venus who was about 60 pounds and she only made it to 11 before we lost her suddenly two Marches ago. So we're back to having a smaller mutt which is more appropriate for our household anyway. No matter what size, though, they sure know how to find the soft spot in your heart.

Coach pb9617 said...

Hey Pat, glad to hear he's doing okay. I had to put down my girl when she was just 7 two years ago. She had a grand mal seizure while I was playing with her.

I just choked up thinking about it and I still choke up every time I think about it.

I'm as ready as I'll ever be I guess.

No you aren't.

Baroque said...

No you aren't.

Seconded. You never are.

The old man of the family is 14 now, and sometimes we need to look very carefully when he sleeps so deeply to see if he's still breathing.

In some ways the love of a dog is one of the cruelest things around. It is forever, no matter what happens, but at the same time the price for such an unconditional love is the accelerated knowledge of mortality. The only way to avoid the pain is to not love in the first place, and if those are my only options ... well, I'm quite capable of making more tears.

Have a safe trip to Dublin and enjoy yourself. I think the old boy will still be there waiting for you to get back.

Scott Reynolds said...

Glad to hear that things turned around. I hope you have a grand time in Ireland and that he's there to greet you when you get back.

Black Dog said...

Thanks I will do my best. ;)