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.