Thursday, September 11, 2008

Geriatric Care - Not just an issue for humans

I am sorry that I did not get a chance to post last night. I was on dog watch. As I mentioned on, our older dog is not doing well and last night he took a turn for the worse. I actually have spent the night on the couch. We have decided to put him down today, but I wasn’t even sure that he would make it through the night. The poor thing has lost so much weight and hair. He is normally a beautifully full Keeshond (for those unfamiliar with the breed, they are like huskies). Now he looks like a skeleton with wisps of hair. Tumors have come back where they were removed a little over a year ago and they have spread. And he had started “leaking” for lack of a better word. He also over the past few months had begun chewing at his legs to the point that they were raw. The vet gave us medication in case he was chewing because of arthritis and medication for the leaking. Originally, there was an antibiotic because there were signs of it being UTI and a thickening of the kidneys, but when we finished that they put him on a maintenance pill that was supposed to help.

Over the past week and a half though, he began outright peeing. I think as his legs got worse; he just did not want to make the effort to go outside. Some nights his breathing was so labored, I thought this was it. As I continued to talk to the nurse at the veterinary hospital, she was very patient and helpful, understanding the difficult stages of an aging dog. She kept telling me that we can do everything we can. As I struggled to know, when it was time to say goodbye, she assured me I would know. Last night it became clear. We have done everything in our power to give him care and make his life worth living. When he could not get himself upright, I would stand over him putting my feet on both sides so that he could push against them with his back feet so that he could get himself upright. As food and cookies have become hard to chew, he has enjoyed a feast from the table: chicken, beef, and pork. We had to get rid of the carpet in the living room because of smell, but I have put out a blanket so that he would have a warm comfortable place to lay.

Yesterday though, as everyone was at their respective activities except me, the dogs, and the cat, the smell from him was worse than usual. I hesitate to keep giving him baths because he hates them so, but I had decided to just get him to go outside for a bit, maybe he was leaking again and that was what I smelled, so I encouraged him to get up. You should have seen his look of shame and apology. He had started going bm right where he lay. I thought you have to be kidding me. I had to wipe him up and get him outside, but now I would definitely have to wash him. When I went to get him from outside though to ready the bath, he didn’t want to move. I sat with him for a few minutes on the back steps crying. Then when he did get up it was clear that something had changed, he did not have full control of his back legs. Now I’m thinking do I torture this poor thing and give him a bath or just live with it for a night, because we have to take action tomorrow. My husband concurred. It is time. We have passed the time of comfortable but limited existence and clearly have moved to a point where he is uncomfortable to a point that we cannot help him. The poor thing was able to hobble in to his water bowl and after drinking tried to move away, but just couldn’t be steady enough on his back legs to turn away from the bowl and move to the living room. Then when he got to the living room, he couldn’t get himself to lie down. I decided to stay out here with him last night and again prayed for God to take away his pain, but this morning we all woke up again.

Now I am wondering do I give him the bath to take him to the vet (that vanity thing again) or do they just need to understand that the last thing I want to do to him in his last hours of life is the thing which he hates the most. But I have to take care of this today, because this morning I even had to bring his water to him, he could stand up, but could not seem to bring himself to cross the room to his water bowl.

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