My Dogs Last Chapter
Its tuff seeing my best friend fade into old age issues. At 15 years old, he's in the December of life. I'm doing everything I can think of to keep his health and quality of life going, but there's only so much I can do. He'd be a goner by now had I not given considerable extra effort in diet and exercise. Last Fall I built him a handicap ramp because 13 stair steps to his favorite chill spot was too much. Its at a 2 on 12 pitch. This week I added grip pads because its a bit slippery after its been weathering. His hind legs are weak and get the typical slip and slid old dogs get on hardwood floors.
Mainly his biggest issue is his hind legs, weak with atrophy. I often lift him up from a laying position because he has trouble getting up to a standing position, he can do it, but its very strained. He had TPLO surgery on both his hind legs, one leg at 7 years, the other at 11. Getting him going after he's been laying for quite a while is like starting an old chainsaw. He's slow and wobbly at first, then he's ok but slow once he gets warmed up. He can walk a mile if we get him to, although very slow cause he's gotta smell absolutely everything. He does fall sometimes when he loses balance on his rear legs on trails that take some navigating, but I'm always there to get him back on his feet. We walk him on trails with not too many obstacles. Also because he drags his hind legs a bit, we walk him on soft paths of leaves, grass and soil. On pavement we gear him up with rear shoes so he doesn't trash his pads and claws.
He used to like all kinds of teeth cleaning naturals like beef bones, pig ears, antlers, etc. Now he doesn't like them at all, assuming it makes his mouth sore. The only thing he'll chew on now is Greenies Dental Treats.
No more marking his territory with the leg lift, just stand and let it go. He can only do a half squat now, and he's less concerned about a proper dumping zone. Amazingly before when he was young, he'd never do it on a trail path or on our lawn. Now its whenever and wherever nature calls. I let him out a couple times a night, whenever I wake up to use the bathroom.
I have noticed a personality change and less sense of awareness. He's still the same dog, but different. Well, that happens to humans too. He's sleeping a lot more, a very deep sleep. I know he dreams, because I see his legs moving while he's sleeping, its kinda cute. I hope I'm in his dreams with him, I think I must be.
I remember my dog practically pulling my arm off every time I had him on a leash, he was so strong. Now he's a slow old man, but he's still my baby forever. Not sure how much time I have left with him, but I'll make the best of it....for my best friend, for life.