Friday, November 27, 2009

There's the sun, the moon, and Harry

Harry (Dalcross Bandleader) 25/8/99 - 26/11/09

Once there was a little fat sausage

who became a beautiful puppy

who grew up to be a stunningly handsome dog

with a sunny, happy, clownish personality

who loved to run

and jump

and bounce

and then run some more.

Which is why I couldn't condemn him to a crippled half-life of indignity and frustration, although I would have loved to keep him with me forever.

Sleep well, my Baby Boy, my dog in a million. I love you. May your star ever shine brightly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cry me a river

Here we are, two weeks on. Two weeks. (Two whole weeks. How the hell has that happened?) And there's really no change. My Harry still can't move his hind legs. He can't wag, even though on Monday we thought we saw the faintest ghost of a hint of a wag, but it didn't happen again, even when the Boy called in, which usually fills the dogs with joy. Until yesterday, when being stood up to be pottied and his bedding changed, if his legs were put in the right position he could support himself for a couple of seconds. Today he hasn't been able to - I hope tomorrow will be better. We can't go on like this for much longer, neither he nor us. My heart breaks every time I help him move, and he's such a valiant, patient, accepting little soul that he'll do anything I ask of him. Yes I know he's 'only a dog'. But he's my dog, and he's my special dog, and I don't care if it's silly to be so attached - I just am. Although I love all my dogs, out of all of them he's the second who's been so very special - the first was his great-great-great-grandmother who I lost suddenly in 1980. Now him. And I feel guilty for resenting the fact that it's not one of the others; we've been braced to lose Beattie, who we were told would be lucky to make double figures and is now heading for 15, or Piglet, who, if we're honest, is only here because nobody else wanted him when he was a puppy, so he stayed. Poor Piggy, always the bridesmaid - the eternally unwanted. It's not his fault. I can't let this nightmare, this living hell, go on for much longer; it's just not fair. Harry hates wetting himself and soiling his bed. It's hard work keeping him clean and dry to avoid urine scald, and turned to avoid bedsores. He's heavy, even though his hindquarters are so wasted through lack of exercise, despite the physiotherapy, that they're almost skeletal. He doesn't seem to be in any physical pain, but they're so good at hiding serious pain that it can ber very hard to tell. I hope he isn't. I couldn't bear to think I was making my lovely boy suffer.

Sorry for the incoherent, self-indulgent ramble. Grief and exhaustion do strange things to a person's mental state.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

How fragile we are

For many months now we've been psyching ourselves for Beattie's passing, so recent events have totally caught us on the blind side. Tuesday was a normal day; the only difference to any other day was that Harry squealed when playing his usual game with Ned - the game that they play most evenings. After the squeal he was waggy and perfectly normal; the evening followed its usual course and then we went to bed.

Harry was a bit subdued on Wednesday; still waggy and happy, but decided not to run when we were out on our walks, but trotted everywhere instead. Other than that there seemed to be nothig wrong. On Thursday morning he was a bit wobbly on his back legs, and he accidentally knuckled over on his right hind paw and was very slow to correct it, so to be on the safe side I took him for a check over. His spine was carefully felt, and his hips, and his stifles, and his shoulders - everywhere. He was still wagging and giving his trademark flippy-flappy kisses; we assumed he must have pulled a muscle or something, so he was given a steroid injection to reduce any inflammation and lead-exercise only for a few days was prescribed. Friday dawned, and his back legs were still drunk, and when he walked I noticed he'd started scuffing his hind toe-nails on the pavement; this is a sure sign of nerve damage, which was worrying. But he was still cheerful and settled down after their lunchtime walk (peeing was a bit of a problem because when he tried to cock his leg he toppled over so had to straddle like a girl) to sleep till we got back from work.

That's when the day turned black. When we got home he couldn't take any weight on his hind legs at all, and was dragging himself along the floor. As the evening wore on he was getting more and more distressed at not being able to move properly, and wasn't able to pee at all, even when supported. So at about 9 o'clock (apologising profusely for calling out of hours) I phoned the vet and arranged to meet at the surgery. There he was sedated and x-rayed; it seems he's prolapsed a disc (L2/3), with a very guarded prognosis for recovery.

The treatment is steroids to reduce the inflammation and hopefully allow the nerve function to start to recover, and cage rest for at least 6 weeks. The poor boy is so frustrated at being confined, and not being able to move (his back end is now totally paralysed, even his tail), and being shut away to be 'kept quiet'; he's been crying in distress and struggling to get out, which can't be doing him any good.

Those of you who've met Harry know that he's my dog-in-a-million; to see him suffering like this is almost too much to bear. If only we could explain to him what's going on, and that if he lies still he's more likely to recover. Of course, if the damage is permanent we'll break our hearts and release him from the suffering. It's so sad - when he's lying down he looks completely normal; but when he tries to move ...

Genie Towers is not a happy place at the moment.