Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Never Mind All This Blather!

How are the dogs?

Murphy is 14 this month, and as of this week has graduated to having to be carried down the stairs. He can still manage up on his own, but he stumbles going down. He's not in any danger; he is on his leash and he wears a soft padded mesh harness, so when he stumbles I can catch him immediately, but he naturally doesn't like walking down the stairs anymore and prefers to be carried.

I think this ties to his failing vision. He broke my heart the other night - I'd been feeding them their bedtime treats while sitting on the couch, and got up to get a few more from the kitchen. I came back to see him staring very excitedly at the spot where I had been sitting, squeaking expectantly, while I was still across the room. I came into what passes for his "view" and he was startled. He fakes being able to see and hear so well, and he has bursts of energy of a much younger dog, that if you met him you wouldn't see these infirmities right away. Like the stubborn old man who fakes being able to see well enough to drive, Murphy is determined to carry on. But his accidents on the floor have gone from rare to 2 or 3 times a week, and have I mentioned lately that the new flooring was the best money ever spent?

Despite his increasingly obvious infirmities he's quite happy and bossy, has a good appetite, sleeps well, and is obviously not in any pain. He's just slowing down. He'll be 14 on the 24th, and I'm thrilled to see him reach this milestone, 5 years into a disease that at the time of his diagnosis had few survivors past 2 years. I'm delighted that he got old enough to get blind and deaf and become an old dog. It wasn't a likely outcome when he was diagnosed.

Sophie continues to surprise me. With this change in activity level I realized that poor Sophie was being really shortchanged in the Walkies Department. I tended to walk both dogs together, and that meant we kept the pace of the Old Dog. I didn't even realize what was happening, because these changes are so gradual, but that's definitely how it happened - walks got both shorter and slower.

Sophie will be 5 next month, and I don't want her to slow down into old doghood prematurely. Apparently she doesn't either. This morning Murphy had already had an accident on the floor after coming in from their FIRST relief trip of the morning, and didn't have any real need for a second walk. I left him in the house to take her for a normal-paced walk. We walked the route I usually take with both dogs, and when we got to the other street into our small neighborhood, where we usually turn for home, she turned the other way, and indicated that she wanted to cross the main road! So we did, and we walked up that road awhile, until I had to turn her back because I had to get ready for work. We walked twice the distance at a much faster pace, and I now realize that I have been cheating her out of the exercise she really needs and craves, and I feel guilty! She wants to walk more, walk farther, walk faster, and I must make it so. After that half hour walk with her, I carried the old man down the stairs and gave him a ten minute leg stretch, letting him set the pace, which was plenty for him. This evening we instituted separate walkies, and both dogs are happier. It's good for me, too - the more walking, the better!

Dudley is doing well, and though my daughter thinks she sees another lump on a different leg, so far it appears to be another fatty tumor rather than one of the Bad Ones - right now it's watch and see.
EDIT: My daughter just texted me a picture of a large new lump, this time on his side. Shit. Damn. Shit.

Layla has a new diet food she likes, so she's less depressed about her diet. She has slimmed down a bit, too.

And that's the canine update.


KatyaR said...

I read this after midnight last night, and it just made me so sad. At least Murphy's still trucking--slow but sure. And poor Dudley--I'm heartbroken over him. After reading that news, I had to get Basie under the covers with me to hug for a while. I'm so sorry.

Love to you all, KatyaR and Basie

Gae, in Callala Bay said...

Re Dudley - do not be completely downhearted, until you know what you are dealing with. Italian Greyhounds, another breed with a very fine 'bodysuit', starting about middle age, show all sorts of lumps and bumps on their skin, and the vast majority of them are harmless. You should just see old Ace - at least three Lipomas, lots of warty looking things, and other oddities, checked by our Vet regularly. Our Vet is not sure if these fine-coated dogs really are more prone to such things, or if the truth is that the lumps and bumps are more visible.

Best of luck to Dudley,

Gae, in Callala Bay

Anonymous said...

I realize no self-respecting Yorkie would see it this way, but Murphy is very lucky to have you. My Teddie was blind at the end, and she was good at hiding it too. She moved around the edges of the room and used the edges of the furniture as a guide. Every once in awhile, she would find herself in the center of the room and become disoriented---she seemed to lose her bearings and be unable to figure out exactly where she was. Hannah will be 13 on April 4th---I keep saying "NO MORE DOGS!" but I know I won't be able to stick with it. She needs a haircut and a bath, but it's still way to cold here for that.

Catherine said...

Gae, my daughter is going to take him to the vet while she's on spring break, but this new lump on his side feels hard like the mast cell tumor, not like a fatty tumor. He appears to have another lipoma coming up on his other leg. His new name is Lumpy.

Brenda, I think Murphy can still see shapes and shadows if the lighting is bright enough, but if I drop a treat on the floor, he can't spot it, and, yes, apparently he mistook a large throw pillow on the couch for me the other night (which is highly unflattering, now that I think about it.)

Zippi Kit said...

Hurray for Sophie's longer walkies. And, playing is a good sign for older dogs. Murphy is a happy boy even if it entails shorter walks and being carried down stairs. He's obviously a very happy little dog with a tough constitution to beat back that terrible disease as he has.

And yes, shit, Damn, Shit! Poor little Dudley. Damn!