Our oldest dog, Zoe, turns 15 July 30th. If she makes it that long. That’s her up above, a few months ago.
Zoe was called ‘Trilingual’ in the newspaper ad where I found her. Her mom was a full apricot toy poodle, and dad was half Italian greyhound, half chihuahua. So she had French, Italian, and Mexican in her. That still brings a smile to my face.
Zoe (named after the Doctor Who character by my hubby), loved to run. That Italian Greyhound in her. And she is/was just the sweetest darned dog ever. But she has the annoying habit of shredding any ‘potty pad’ that she is left in a room with, and whining constantly to get up in the morning. Never could break her of that habit.
Anyhow, in the past 3 months, her quality of life has gone downhill fast. Before that, we all used to joke, ‘are you sure she’s this old?’, because she was still so lively. Although about a year ago, she started having pooping accidents at night. She was sleeping downstairs at the time, alone, because that way she didn’t whine in the morning. (yes, daddy has always spoiled all of his girls.) Because you couldn’t leave her with a potty pad, hubby started laying out cheap bath towels for her. That worked. He dealt with the clean up. She also started struggling to get up and get going in the morning, particularly cooler ones. We attributed that to arthritis and age, and hubby just wouldn’t force her to take that early walk, and would just walk her a little later in the morning once she got going. (he works from home 4 days a week.) If you can’t already tell, she has daddy wrapped around her little paw.
That’s kind of the problem now. We had had ‘the talk’ when she was about 10, about how far we would go, financially, for any of the dogs (we have 3) as they got older, and agreed on that. We didn’t have the talk about what symptoms would indicate it’s time for an elderly dog to be ‘let go.’ The unspoken was that it would be some obvious sign.
But now, we are here at that time. In the past 3 months, she started throwing up several times a week. This past weekend, I found 2 containers in the fridge that were a mix of white rice, carrots, and chicken. I knew but asked anyway, ‘what’s with the big containers in the fridge?’ Hubby admitted that Zoe hadn’t eaten her (regular, dog food that is the kind made for elderly dogs) for 2 days; he was moving her to this food mixture he had made. (fortunately, it’s worked. She’s eating again and not throwing up, so far.) She’s always been very lean (the Italian greyhound in her), but now she feels like skin and bones. Her back legs occasionally will just shake, almost like shivering, sometimes when she stands up. He now carries her up and down the stairs. Sometimes, if she’s moving fast, or turning a corner, her back legs slip out from under her and she kind of stumbles. He doesn’t force her on the 4 long walks a day he takes the dogs on. (he admitted that recently, as soon as she’s done her business, she is DONE. Before, she was the front dog on all walks.) (he just takes her to the grass outside our unit for each trip now, alone.) She sleeps so deeply sometimes now, that you have to check to see if she’s still breathing. Every morning he’s now in the habit of half-joking when he opens their door (she no longer stays alone downstairs, because I was smelling something foul about 6 weeks ago, and decided she’s doing something to cause the foul smell, so she’s upstairs in the room with the other 2 dogs.) He says, “Zoe, you are still with us!” (or Zoe, you made it another day.) But our hearts are hurting. She doesn’t play with the chihuahua any more like she used to. She doesn’t play with toys. She’s mostly sleeping, even more than dogs normally do. She isn’t in any apparent pain, but she doesn’t enjoy life anymore, either.
I’ve read the articles. I know the time is now. Hubby is trying to squeeze every last moment of love from and to her that he can. When I’ve tried to broach the subject, he admits he knows it’s soon, as he picks her up and smothers her in soft hugs and kisses. It breaks my heart. I’m at the point that I can’t softly suggest it anymore; it’s gotten into nagging territory. And trust me, at me being 16 years younger than my husband, it does warm my heart to see him being so faithful and loving and resistant to letting Zoe go. I know that indicates (oddly enough), how he will be with me, too. When my time starts to come. (Heck, he already is with my recent UC diagnosis, and other sundry medical issues associated with my aging. He is an absolute rock star with me.)
Don’t get me wrong. I love Zoe too. Although she’s always had a habit of throwing me the stink eye occasionally. (I kid not.) But that’s because I’m daddy’s ‘bad cop’ in the house with the dogs. Just the rolls we have ‘parenting’ three little dogs. Daddy’s the good cop, mommy is the Enforcer.
But I feel bad. For both Zoe, and especially for my husband. I know he still hopes she’ll give a definitive ‘sign’, (or just pass naturally on her own)…but I hate to have her circumstances degrade much further, but I can’t force this on hubby or back him into a corner on it.
ugh. This just SUCKS.