Monday, April 07, 2008

Getting Older

Our dog, Smokey, is getting older. He turns 15 this month. It is sad, especially for my husband who has taken him to work with him almost every day, until this year. Now, Smokey can no longer climb into the truck and can barely toddle down the front walk to the truck, let alone navigate the stairs without tumbling into a heap. We've blocked off the stairs in our house and we leave him at home during the day while we're at work. Physically, he's been deteriorating ever since the bizarre horse related incident. The physical ailments include poor hearing and eyesight as well as wobbly legs. But now, he's mentally losing it also. He often requires a nudge to remind him what we mean when we open the door to let him outside. He no longer responds with his usual sense of purpose. With a tug on his collar, he will finally walk outside, but then he will just stand on the sidewalk and stare into space. With a little more nudging into the grass, he will immediately do his business, but then again, he'll just sort of wander around until he is turned back in the direction of the front door. But then, when I open the door for him, he'll act like he's trying to enter the house through the wall instead of the door, nose pressed against the wall while the door is standing wide open just to his left. I think he is guided by light, and so the porch light shining on the wall is brighter than the open door. If I fill Cocoa's food bowl first, he starts eating out of Cocoa's bowl, rather than going straight to his own and waiting to be served, as he has for the past 14 years. Then when dinner is over, he wanders restlessly around the house, in search of scraps, like he's famished. At least he still has an appetite. But now, this...

He's obsessively licking the furniture. Seriously, he cannot be that hungry! I'm wondering if it's something in the metal trim that he likes, maybe an iron deficiency? Or maybe he's just senile. Stop licking the furniture, dammit! It's so hard watching them grow old.

Speaking of getting older, my last trip to the eyedoctor was on a Thursday afternoon. Apparently, that is the same day the buses transport seniors to their eye doctor appointments, because the waiting room was entirely full and all of the patients were elderly. But I forgot to mention one particularly interesting one...his name was Dick (I know this because he was wearing a flight jacket with the name Dick embroidered on the front) and on the back of the jacket were the words "Slick Chick." Of course, I chuckled a little at first, because I didn't know what it meant. I only knew that the words were incongruous with the man wearing them. Honestly, I thought he must be a Shriner, or something. But fortunately, someone else in the room knew what it meant and asked him about it as he was getting ready to leave. His eyes lit up! Turns out he was a gunner in WWII, on the B-17G Flying Fortress known as Slick Chick. And once he started talking about it, his daughter had a hard time getting him out of the doctor's office. I was moved by the brush with history there in the waiting room. I don't know why. It's not like I don't know that everyone around me has a story. It's just that I tend not to think about it much. Dick made me think about it a little bit more and I was appreciative of his service to our country.



At 9:07 AM, April 07, 2008, Blogger Sisiggy said...

Have you tried bumping up the type of food you're feeding him? Zsa Zsa is a compulsive licker, but when we had her on certain foods she'd also lick the furniture, the floor and the wall. We were feeding raw at the time which, it turns out, didn't agree with her. We started with Nutra, and ended up with Evo for awhile until the price got prohibitive. The Evo got rid of the wood licking completely. We've since switched to Iams and so far, so good.
Could he have cataracts? I'm not sure you'd do anything about it at this age, but it's good to know.
It's hard to see them slow down like this, though there have been Aussies that have lived up to 18 years. I'm sure your vet has probably already recommended glucosamine or something.

At 10:40 AM, April 07, 2008, Blogger Jen said...

Aw, poor pup.

At 6:13 PM, April 07, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Sisiggy, I hadn't thought about switching his food. We'll try that. He's on Iams now but the "diet" variety (because his brother, Cocoa, is a bit obese) so that could be a problem. Gosh, I hate to think we've been starving him all this time when I just thought he was going senile! I had no idea other dogs licked the furniture like this. Cocoa just seems obsessed with licking the pads of his feet. And yes, he's on glucosamine and Dera-maxx for the hips and joints. The Dera-maxx might be wreaking havoc on his digestive system too. And I'm pretty sure the semi-blindness is caused by cataracts, given the cloudy glow, but we're not inclined to operate at his age, like you say. We're fortunate though to have a vet in the family!

Jen, how's old Annie?

At 11:59 AM, April 08, 2008, Blogger Gwen LaPointe said...

Gwynne, have you heard of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?

Some of the loopiness you describe can be caused by that, especially in older dogs. It can be treated to some degree with Anipryl.

If it's any consolation my old girl (lost her 4 years ago) became completely obsessed with food the last year of her life. I just could not feed her enough and she would cry and cry for more food. I finally started freezing yogurt in those rubber kongs for her to knaw on, just to give her something to do. It's just the saddest thing to watch them age and it's hard to know how to help them.

Glad your eyes are responding to treatment.


At 10:02 PM, April 08, 2008, Blogger Gwynne said...

Thanks, Gwen, I'll check it out and ask the vet about it. Yes, nearly obsessed about food is right. It's driving my husband batty too because he tends to be obsess about not overfeeding the dogs. I'm going to have two nutcases on my hands soon! ;-)

At 5:43 PM, April 10, 2008, Blogger Eric said...

I feel your pain. 8-(

At 4:45 PM, April 13, 2008, Blogger Rach said...

Let us know when you figure out the dog! I tell you turtles for the next pet - they live a really long time!


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