Friday, November 24, 2023

Thinking about goodbye...

Over a month ago, I thought I would have to say good-bye to Charly.  It was very late on a Thursday night.  Charly woke me with her crying – unusual because she has a stomach of steel and very rarely needs to go out at night.  I went down the stairs thinking that maybe she was feeling well enough to want to come upstairs to sleep.  I found her in her dog bed in the living room.  I hugged and petted her and invited her to follow me upstairs.  She didn’t move.  She stopped crying for a couple minutes, then started again.  I went back to her and pet her.  I didn’t have my glasses on, but up close, I suddenly saw that her eyes were bouncing – she was having a vestibular attack and couldn’t move as she could not sense direction.  I held her and that helped her stop crying, but her eyes still bounced.  Off to animal emergency me and my family went, not knowing what might happen.  

After three hours, Charly’s vestibular issue had resolved enough that she could walk with some stumbling. Whether the issue would recur was unknown, and if it did it may take days to resolve or not resolve.  We left with our old dog…yet again miraculously having pulled through.  While her bank account was drained again, and we all were very tired, I could treasure every moment with her the next day.  

That night affirmed for me that in my heart, I am ready to let her go when she tells me it’s time.  And, that I think I will know when it’s time.  A surreal calm had come over me that night as she cried with discomfort…a feeling of knowing that she could and would not be made to suffer, and that I will have to at some time unknown, say good-bye to my old friend.  

Friday, November 17, 2023

Not more laundry...??

Charly has never been much of a marker on walks.  In her first year of life, she and I had a war over whose papasan chair it really was that occupied our apartment’s little sun room.  She reinforced her strong opinion by marking that chair…each time after I called “Paul” the furniture cleaner to clean it.  But, otherwise she has never peed in the house.  About two years ago, I thought she was again engaging in a war – this time over her beds.  There was pee in them, and we would wash them, and then there would be more pee again.  Did she not like the scent of the detergent?  Was she upset that we had moved or temporarily took her bed(s)?  No.  Charly was incontinent during sleep.  Our shoulders sagged with the thought of doing more laundry…especially dog-pee-laundry.  How many more loads could we possibly do in a week?  

Thankfully, there is a liquid oral medication that assists (mostly) with preventing the incontinence.  But, about twice a week (mostly on days when no one can be home to cover the lunchtime walk), Charly’s bladder will empty in her bed.  She dislikes it as much as we do, and will look at us in earnest and paw near the offending area.  She refuses to lay in a soiled bed.  So, we bought a handful of really fluffy waterproof dog blankets – she loves to sleep on this fluff and it keeps the accidents focused in one area.  And, it turns out that we can do more laundry than we thought we could!  Our time has stretched because it had to – Charly is old, and so is her body.  And now, this extra laundry is just part of our family’s life.  

Friday, November 10, 2023

The nose knows

Charly’s heritage stemmed from hunting dogs some of whom were also developed into show dogs.  As a new dog owner, I knew not the keen skill of English Springer Spaniels to hunt – to spring to flush out fowl and to locate the kill.  When she was only two and a half months old amidst a prairie winter, she had the opportunity to trek to find a deer that a hunter had shot and wounded late the evening before.  The deer had travelled some distance, but bled drops as it went.  The space between the blood was a few metres, and difficult to see with the dusting of fallen snow overnight.  I let little puppy Charly off her leash in front of the first blood drops, and she immediately bounced through the snow, leading the way.  That new nose knew exactly where to go, and soon the now dead deer was located.  Impressive!

Unlike many of her other aging body parts, Charly’s older nose has retained its prowess.  Usually on walks, she sniffs and sniffs and goes in curvy paths as she attempts to track down something.  Sometimes she just sniffs around an area to locate miscellaneous compost items that fled the green bins before they were emptied on trash pick-up day.  She and I disagree as to whether our walks should mainly be in the gutters where those bins awaited emptying, or on the sidewalk.  I think the ripe apples near the sidewalk from neighbours’ trees look very appetizing, while she turns her nose.  

What still surprises me is her ability to locate something that I cannot see – and likely she cannot see either!  It’s in the clover on the boulevard.  It’s deep in a bush.  It’s mashed into looking like part of the road pavement.  But, once located, it’s gobbled up as if she’s a starveling rather than a marginally over-fed dog.  She still impresses me when snow has fallen the night before, and I think we are the first to tread, but I can see that her sniffing is not confused…tracks of various sorts and coloured marks evince what it is she’s smelling.  Happily, her old nose still knows!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Bedroom Renovation

Quite a few months after Charly lost mobility to take the stairs on her own, she stopped wanting to come upstairs at bedtime to sleep.  She declined the Edivator (see last week's blog), and no longer needed to sleep on the floor in her dog bed beside me.  My heart hurt for the first while as our invisible string had to stretch.  Then, I realized that she was not only content, but actually happy with her new sleeping space.  

I look back and now see its innocent start and slow evolution.  As I returned to working in-person at the office, Charly started napping occasionally in my closet.  There was a warm water pipe that ran through it under the floorboards, and that’s where she would lay.  I’m sure it smelled like me with all my clothes and shoes and dirty laundry, and it was cozy and dark.  Perfect for a dog.

Then, she started remodelling.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight that’s exactly what happened.  I would come home to her sleeping in the closet on top of boots and papers that she had pulled off the bottom shelves.  Sometimes, she would nest in dirty clothes obtained from the laundry basket she would tip over.  You may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t Carol just close the closet door, for heaven’s sake?!”  I did contemplate doing so, but history has taught us that Charly will scratch and scratch and scratch at any door she wishes to enter.  She will scrape that paint off like an electric sander.  Charly cannot be contained – she’s lived freely for her entire life roaming about the house like she owns it.  And that is how she slowly ended up with a very thick soft pile of blankets, her favourite fluffy one on top, in the corner of my closet.  She had built her own perfect bedroom…or rather, she had me do it.  And, then the voice of my dad reminds me, “She has you well-trained, dear.”  [Sigh].

Practically perfect…even at Hallowe’en

Let’s ponder OldDogBlogs “Practically perfect” from March 13, 2024 and “Brazen” from December 8, 2023.   Essentially, let’s just add them to...