I know you are all just being really polite, putting up with my stories of plumbing nightmares and the like, just hanging on, waiting for the really important update:
How is Murphy doing as we head into 2014?
He's...pretty good. He's showing his age, more and more. His hearing is not so good, and his vision is getting worse. His big brown eyes are blue with cataracts now, and I think he sees shadows and movement, but not much detail. I often have to hold a treat under his nose before he notices it, and when we walk down the stairs to go outside, he doesn't have his old confidence. He takes the steps slowly and carefully, and stumbles now and then, and he definitely feels more confident in bright sunlight. But he still wants to do it himself, and I haven't resorted to carrying him up and down yet.
His remaining teeth are terrible, and I feel terrible that there's not much I can do about it. His groomer mentioned this today, and I told her the issue about his roots going to the very bottom of his jaw, and how I was afraid to have them removed surgically at his age. She nodded immediately, "No. He could lose his jaw." I shuddered, but that is of course exactly what I fear. He's so little, and his little jaw is so tiny and so delicate and the roots of those teeth are so ridiculously HUGE, and all the way down at the bottom of the jaw, on the bone. And of course, those tiny, delicate bones are old, and then there is that underlying disease that rules every decision and weakens his system. No, I really don't think surgery is an option.
He'll be 14 in March, and though his breath is horrible, his teeth don't seem to bother him. Even as I type this he's under my desk DEMANDING animal crackers. I've found that baby cookies and animal crackers are low-fat enough for his tolerance, and they are much easier to chew than dog treats, though he demands those too, and somehow manages to chew/gum them. So, though I hate the idea that his teeth are hurting him, he's soldiering on, and the alternative is just too risky. I'm certainly not going to do anything to deprive him of his ability to demand animal crackers at this stage of his life.
So the body is failing in bits and pieces, but the spirit is still strong. He's still totally Murphy. He went to the groomer today - this is only his second visit to his new groomer, because I swear even his hair isn't growing as fast as it used to - and she remarked at what a good boy he is, and how he's a pleasure to groom. He's bossy when he wants me to do something, and I still swear at him and tell him to quit pestering and shut up, though I'm pretty sure he can't hear me anymore, but he's always a sweet little gentleman for everyone - neighbors, the vet, the groomer, random children in strollers, he charms them all. The frailties of age don't mean a thing; he's still the Bossy Little Dog, and the day he stops bossing, I'll know he's too tired to go on. But we definitely aren't there yet.