Monday, January 07, 2019

Living With an Old Dog, Part 2

Yes, it's been a month since my last post.  Life has gotten in the way, of course: a big day-job project, Christmas, New Year's, and a thousand other things.  One of those things is our dog, Soozzee.

You may remember a previous post from August of last year.  Soozzee had just turned 15.  She was pretty much deaf, was blind in one eye and almost blind in the other, and had a variety of ailments.  All that is still true, of course.  She's had Addison's disease for over a decade - an ailment that is deadly if not treated, but if treated (a pill a day and a shot every 4 weeks), is almost invisible.  She has dry-eye in both eyes, requiring medication twice a day.  She has a thyroid condition, requiring another pill a day.  She needs a Pepcid a day to keep her stomach settled.  She has two skin conditions: one that results in "old-dog bumps" all over her back, and another that results in skin flakes that need to be scraped down with a tick comb periodically.  She has two big stones in her bladder and possibly more forming in her kidney.  The vet doesn't want to cut the stones out due to her age, so Soozzee lives with them.  And because they seem to give her a good bit of pain every now and then, we give her some Gabapentin to help ease it.  Yeah, we spend a lot of money on the little girl every month.  And there's no Medicare for elderly dogs.

Since my last post, Soozzee's case of doggie dementia has gotten a bit worse.  I think it's exacerbated by not being able to see or hear much of anything anymore.  She gets lost in the house, or will sit or stand and just stare off into space.  She gets "the wanders" in the afternoon: around 2:30, she wakes up from her post-lunch nap and just ... wanders.  All over the house.  Bumps into things and stops.  Gets stuck behind a door.  Really, she needs one of us to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't get into too much of a problem.  Which means that one of us is wandering along with her, or nearby.  And she gets really, really spooked if we go off somewhere and leave her at home alone.

This dementia development has really put a damper on our out-of-the-house activities, both work and social.  Either Soozzee goes with us, or one of us stays home with her.  So: going out to a movie and dinner in Asheville?  Umm, nope, can't leave the Sooz for more than an hour.  A day trip somewhere?  Probably not, and only if we can take her along.  Fortunately, we can leave her in the parked car for a while since she doesn't freak out like she does if we leave her home - she seems to understand that we gotta come back to the car at some point.

When I go to the studio, Soozzee often goes with me.  But she doesn't just curl up on the couch and take a nap the whole time.  Nope, she'll go down for about an hour to maybe an hour and a half.  Then she wakes up and ... yep, she wanders.  I keep the doors to the outside closed, but she goes everywhere and, of course, it totally wrecks my concentration.  So I'll give up after a bit and head home, usually with a stop up at the church so she can do her happy run.

And that's the coolest thing.  Here she is, 15 1/2 years old, running across the grass like a puppy.  She can't see where she's going so I have to steer her, but she still gets that happy-dog smile.

There have been a few times over the past six months where I've thought she finally started her last downward spiral.  Each time, she's bounced back within a few days.  I'm so very, very thankful.  Yes, living with a dementia patient is hard, whether they have two legs or four.  But I'm happy to put up with it.  When she plants her butt up against my hip at night and starts snoring, it's all worthwhile.

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