Sunday, March 07, 2010

Do you believe in magic?

So your Food Lady has a part time job ... working for a magician. Yup, you've read that correctly ... I spend a couple of days a week at the beck and call of a magic man. It's rather fascinating stuff. Last week I spent several hours making things out of FIMO ... I can't tell you what I made, or I'd have to kill you. Also, I'm still not really sure what it was I was making, cuz it's awful secretive, this magic business.

There are some downsides to this job:

1) It's kind of like working for a congenial and slightly less creepy David Blaine.
2) I'm a captive audience for all these magic tricks that make me SHIT MY MIND.

But there are also some real perks to this job:

1) He feeds me lunch, that sometimes includes cake!
2) He pays me in real dollars, not magicbucks.
3) I get to see one of my favourite things every time I walk into his house.

Remember this fine old gentleman?

Oh yeah - it's the world's most demented canine tyrant, His Majesty Sporticus. Now EIGHTEEN AND A FREAKIN' HALF YEARS OLD, Sport refuses to die ... probably just to be obstinate. Or, the most likely explanation, is that it's some kind of magic at work. How else can you explain how Sport, going on 19 years old, still shuffles around this earth making people do his bidding? It's gotta be magic.

This week, Sport is staying with me and my crew while my boss and his wife have disappeared into the magic box and reappeared in the middle of NYC. Sport rattled and squeaked his way into my living room, collapsed himself into a heap of dusty old bones on a big fluffy pillow and has been making me do his bidding ever since.

Sporty is much as I remember him - serious, sweet and bossy as fuck.

You! Peon! Bring me some food I will eat. Except I WON'T eat ANYTHING that I have eaten before, so be creative. But not too creative, for I won't like that one bit. In fact, maybe I'm not even hungry at all. You'll never know, will you? Why are you just standing there?! GET TO WORK!!

This is one OLD dog, my friends. He is on a million medications to keep his heart beating, his joints passably mobile and the grim reaper at bay. Every time I pick him up (which is shockingly often, and usually because he has gotten stuck somewhere) he wheezes and coughs and I'm sure the end is nigh.

He has a very special eating regime that I, apparently, SUCK at, because he completely refused to eat his dinner last night (a dinner, I might add, that involves several steps, about 40 minutes of cooking and a very specific presentation) until I peppered it liberally with slices of ham. And for a dog who gets stuck in corners, he's remarkably adroit at removing strategically placed ham-bits from the rest of his food.

This morning he woke me up at 6AM by peeing on my carpet.

I love having Sport here because ... well, because I love Sport! But I also hate having Sport here because I am nursing this 24-7 dread that he's going to die on my watch. His owners have assured me many times that if he dies while they are gone they won't blame me, because he's EIGHTEEN AND A FREAKIN' HALF YEARS OLD and he's bound to pop off eventually. But I'd much rather he waited until they come back from NYC and if he must kick it, he does it in their house and not mine. (Of course, if he doesn't stop with the refusal to eat anything I make him, I may kill him myself. Perhaps I'll kick him until ... oh never mind.)

A day with Sport goes kind of like this - he wakes me up at an ungodly early hour by pissing in my floor, so I leap out of a dead sleep, hustle him at a snail's pace to the front door and shove him outside. Then I crawl around cleaning up the trail of pee, crying because 40 seconds ago I was asleep and now I'm the opposite, and I'm confused. He wanders around outside sniffing stuff and trying not to get lost at the pace of .0927 miles per decade, then waits for me to reappear because he can't get back up on the deck. I lift him up, he coughs and wheezes - I squint my eyes shut and repeat the phrase "don'tdiedon'tdiedon'tdie" until he stops coughing.

Then we sort of propel ourselves through the house until we're back in the big room, where Sport whines until someone gets off his big fluffy pillow, where he promptly collapses. I make a meal he won't eat, replace it with something else he won't eat, lie down on the floor in front of him with a spoon and beg him to eat, kick his bowl across the room and hurl invectives at him for not eating, then I give him several slices of ham and some liver cookies, which he will eat. At least, which he will eat today. Who knows about tomorrow?

I finally sit down with my coffee and Sport decides he needs to pee again so we repeat the shuffle, lift, cough/wheeze, don'tdiedon'tdiedon'tdie, whine, collapse routine. And then it's time for one of his many medications, delivered sneakily in a liver cookie (I can do magic too, you know!).

Repeat several times daily, go through the whole eating thing at dinner time again, eventually go outside with him for the last pee lest he inadvertently wander into the mouth of a coyote, move his fluffy pillow into the bedroom, go back to the big room to convince him that the pillow CAN, in fact, move rooms and he doesn't have to stand where it used to be and stare at nothing, eventually lift him up and carry him to the pillow, cough/wheeze, don'tdiedon'tdiedon'tdie, sleep.

Sport is a lot of work!!

But having him here, and working with SAINTS, has really gotten me thinking about when and how our old dogs should die, and how much and for how long should we be keeping them alive? Sport can scarcely move these days, and spends much of his time either asleep or staring blankly at nothing, like a wall. Who knows what's going on in his little pea brain? Is he thinking "you bastards, let me go?" or is he going " ow ow ow ow ow" in his head or is he grateful that he's still here to rule the house from his pillow?

Don't get me wrong - I am in NO WAY second guessing his owners' decisions about his well being. I won't pretend that having him for a week is like having him for my very own, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that they are doing everything for him they can and with his best interests in mind. I'm definitely not suggesting that Sport should not still be with us (and besides, it's not like he's actually alive anyway; he's in a state of suspended semi-animation thanks to MAGIC).

It's just that I've never had a really old dog myself, and having this decrepit old house guest just, I guess, makes me think about this stuff. I try to imagine, say, Piper at EIGHTEEN AND A FREAKIN' HALF YEARS OLD - she is such an animated, lively, busybody of a dog. What would she be thinking if she were really old, and couldn't do any of the things she loved to do, and couldn't really move or walk or make Mad Teeth(tm) at her friends? Would she hate every blessed minute of it or would she just be happy that she was still hanging around being a puny little witch?

Kill me, and I will haunt you. And so will my sidekick. Bitch.

And when do they tell us that it's time for them to go? Do they know? Briggs never told me - my vet told me. But did Briggs want to die? I'll never know; all I knew was that he was going to die in a matter of days, possibly hours, and I didn't want him to hurt anymore, and there was nothing else we could do for him. His imminent death was inevitable, and as much as it pained me, I don't think I let him go too soon at all. But a dog like Sport - who is dying by degrees just because he's old ... when is it too soon? Or too late? How do you KNOW?

Part of me hopes Tweed lives to be as old as Sport, and part of me hopes he doesn't at all. Mostly because as long as there is breath in his body, he will bark at me, and I cringe at the thought of 9 more years of his incessant barking. Wootie will undoubtedly live to be about 43 years old, just to torment me.

Having Sport here this week is like a living (<-- interpret that liberally) philosophy lesson for me. Also, it gives me a glimpse of Hell ... a Hell where I will be forced to beg dogs I love to eat all day long. He really is an obstinate old goat. He maybe can't move much or even really function, but he can sure still lie down in the worst direction possible for getting a decent photograph. sp3

At SAINTS they make life and death decisions all the time. It must be heartbreaking for them. And sometimes, I imagine, the dogs make the decision themselves about when it's their time to go, which must also be heartbreaking for them. It's so easy to get attached to these little lives, isn't it?

Yesterday I took my dogs for a walk (but not Sport, that'd kill him for sure) and Tweed stepped on a whole branch of thorns - he was wearing a thorn shoe! And he limped right over to me, poked me in the knee with his nose and when I looked down, he held his paw right out to me to remove them for him. Can you imagine? We've finally reached that place. He's my old dog, and he loves me!!

Are you still on about that? doG you're boring.


Janice in GA said...

These are hard questions, for sure.

We lived with our old Ivan dog through times when we had to feed him by hand because he'd forget to eat. He'd also get stuck in corners, and we'd have to help him out. He didn't know much of what was going on anymore at all. He woke up one morning crying and howling, and we knew we'd waited one day too long to take him to the vet. :( He was about 14.

My old Cammie dog was mentally still as bright as ever, but her body was failing her. Her hips were really bad, and she would occasionally get over-excited and not be able to breathe properly. I totally didn't want her to die by suffocating if her heart/lungs didn't work, so we took her in maybe a little earlier than we could have. I still miss her lots more than I thought I would. She was about 15, maybe a little more.

My Sasha collapsed and died at the vet from undiagnosed hemangiosarcoma. (I had a necropsy done afterward, because we'd had no idea she was so sick.) She wasn't quite 9. She broke my heart.

My Bouncer is 13 now, and has several chronic health problems. I'm watching him and loving him as much as I can right now, because I just don't know how much longer I'll have him. I just don't want to wait one day too long again.

Natalie said...

OMG, Sport! Great to see his pictures again, and absolutely shocked that he is still limping along.

Watching an old dog go downhill is freaking heartbreaking. When my brother's dog was dying from cancer it was much the same thing, even though she was young - she lost her mobility, she lost her appetite, she lost most of her joy in things. It was simply awful. I'm thankful that my Oreo still shows her spunk and joy and I know it's not her time yet, even though I can clearly see the age creeping up on her. But it's a very heavy heart I carry when I remember how she used to be. She's such a different dog now.... not the pup I remember.

Life in vet school said...

I know (I really know) that longevity is as much a matter of genetics, environment, luck of the draw, and a bazillion other factors as it is nutrition. But given that I can't do ANYTHING about most of those other factors, **please please please** will you ask Sporty's parents what they've fed him for most of his life? Please? If I could get my handsome bear to live to 18, I would . . . I don't know. Probably just drop dead myself, of happiness. I've read so many holistic health books, raw diet articles, taken nutrition classes, studied nutrition clinically, and still I'm convinced there's some magic formula. Will you please ask, and post it here?

Thank you for considering it!

KC said...

Great Post and questions that are part of being a loving and responsible pet guardian.

I do have a remedy for the carpet issues. I took care of a neighbor dog that I loved at the end of his life while his people were away. He would also pee at inconvenient times and places. I solved the problem by pinning a towel around him and inserting feminine pads in the appropriate spot. It worked great and he seemed none the wiser. Later, I sewed custom fit bands with elastic and velcro that even worked better but is probably more time consuming and more trouble than is necessary.

Good luck with the rest of his stay. I would be so relieved that you were taking care of my dog if I had to leave. I am sure they are grateful.

Erin said...

go back to the big room to convince him that the pillow CAN, in fact, move rooms and he doesn't have to stand where it used to be and stare at nothing, eventually lift him up and carry him to the pillow...

I remember this with Logan, my spaniel who lived to almost 18. He slept on his pillow 99% of the time; the other 1% was peeing in the back yard and then wanting to come right back inside because it was too cold for his old bones.

We made the decision that it was time to let him go when he stopped controlling his bladder in his sleep. It was heartwrenching but I sure did not want to selfishly keep him with me while he deteriorated into pain and misery.

@ Life in Vet School - we fed Logan kibble his whole life, along with leftover mashed potatoes and gravy after Sunday dinners. I think though that we probably just won the genetics lottery with him.

Unknown said...

Congrats on the the job any work is good if you get paid.

The age old question when is it time how will I know. Tough one.
I had one dog Wags a Shep x Lab he was with us until 2 wks before his 19th. He had spondulosous he had a tough time in the winter months getting up and standing but in summer spring & fall he was pretty mobile. When we put him down it was because we found blood in his stool knowing he got into the neightbours turkey bones we thought and so did the vet at the time that the bones caused it and it would be better to put him down. After necropcy (all organs of a 10yr old) we found no bones whatsoever but stomach was inflamed because of the butazone he had been on for so long. Was it time we will never know did we do it too soon sometimes we think so.

Raven 13yrs she let us know with the absolute horror in her eyes of messing on herself in the house and not being able to get up. I never have any doubts about when we put her down. It was time and she let me know.

Mocha 6 yrs old with cancer she was eating, active for the most part and quite happy. We woke up one morning she was bleeding from the nose. It was time. Although putting her down was the hardest because she would not go until she finished the cookie the tech gave her we were actually going for another vial of euth. When she finished her cookie she gave a great sigh and then died.

Trixie 13 with heart & lung disease she died at the vets overnight decision was all hers I just hope she didnt have any pain.

So Sheena we will never know for sure but at least we have the option to choose. Our pets have it better than our seniors in society they cant choose when theyve had enough.

Two French Bulldogs said...

now that is some kinda job. Could be fun...abracadabra send me nylabones
Benny & Lily

An English Shepherd said...

Great post, sport is one cool/old dog :-)


Jean said...

Sporticus, it is so good to see your picture and hear Food Lady's stories about you again!

Sheena, as mom to four seniors (youngest is 11, oldest is 16-18), I constantly ask myself the questions you have raised. And then I think back to the ones I have helped cross the bridge, both young ones (from cancer) and old ones (from old age or cancer) and I reassure myself that I will just "know". I did then, and I will again. For some it is easy to know - when I can no longer relieve their pain (at least not without turning them into zombies)it is time to let them go. But for others, like my Oliver who at 16-18 is deaf, nearly blind, and has advanced doggy alzheimer's but whose little body keeps truckin' along, the decision will be much tougher. I have to trust that he will let me know.

Corey said...

How bittersweet but utterly amazing that Sport is still around!

My college poetry teacher used to call stuff like this "mucous membrane writing," which I find oddly appropriate. :D Unedited (or seemingly unedited) journalizings like this are great to read, imo.

I have been extremely fortunate so far in that all but one of the dogs I've had have lived to a nice ripe old age and it has been very (medically) obvious to us when it was their time to go. The only one that did not had to be euthanized at 4 due to liver failure. That was 10 years ago and I still question to this day whether or not we kept her alive longer than we should have.

Barra is 13 now and shows few outward signs of slowing down. There are the standard Old Dog things, of course, like diminished hearing and worn teeth and the occasional wart...but I count myself blessed that that's all so far. Her genes give me hope- her sire lived to a nice respectable 15 and suffered what they figured was a stroke.

While it is heartbreaking to have to make the decision to aid a furry friend in its passing, I also have a lot of sympathy for folks who have to do the kind of soul-searching you discuss here because they just don't have those obvious outward signs that it's time to let go.

Anonymous said...

So great to see sporty again! The food thing... I've got a couple dogs I watch who are like that. No advice because what worked at breakfast, sure as heck won't help at dinner. And what works for dog A Monday, doesn't work for dog B ever.

I think each animal tells us - and if we're listening, we hear. Sometimes - it's tough to want to hear that message.

I too have done the don'tdieonmywatch chant when caring for a geriatric case. The hyper watch.. are they still breathing?

Great news on the job.

Barb said...

Sport looks wonderful! Especially for a dog older than dirt!

This post had me doing that roller coaster laugh-out-loud-then-start-crying thing.

One thing I can say - usually old dogs deteriorate so slowly that the owners do "get used to it" and it's not such a huge adjustment. There have been several times that I've had an old dog and thought "it's not THAT much extra work". Then after the dog dies all of a sudden it seems I've got all these extra HOURS every day. Which I think is great until I remember why, then I feel guilty as hell for enjoying the extra time.

The big question of when it is "time" is one we all struggle with, with every single pet we let go. It is (to quote Monk) both a blessing and a curse to have the opportunity to release them from their suffering. I think most of us tend to wait too long, but as long as the animal isn't really suffering (feeling old and creaky and tired isn't really suffering in my book) then that is OK. You just do the best you can.

cinnamondog said...

Well, color me callous, but I like it when a dog can die on its own -- and that doesn't happen often. Last fall a permanent foster Sheltie I had passed away, at age 18 or more. He didn't have any disease process or any organ failure, he just got really old and ran ... down ... like a watch that stops ticking. He died at home, in his bed. I knew he was dying and for the last week or so he was on hospice care, which mainly meant that I cleaned up the messes and said calm, consoling things to him like "gad, you STINK! Fagh, how can you stand smelling this bad!" Much as Mother Teresa did with the dying poor that she attended in her mission, I believe.

I now have a rescue Sheltie who is 16+ and is on the exit ramp, so to speak. My greatest hope is that Rudy-Dude can see himself to the door, to mix a metaphor; but if I have to help him find it, I will do that. I do think I will know when he wants to leave. But because he has dreadful hip and spine problems, his body may become useless before he actually does want to leave -- that's the decision I dread having to make.

It is good to see Sport again. Even if he spends more time out of this world than in it -- his hours of staring and sleeping -- I believe that he enjoys being present when he occasionally checks in and bosses people around.

Anonymous said...

good post!

food, tim bits (donuts holes for the yanks out there), chicken, tuna or egg salad sandwiches and gerbers pureed chicken baby food is the final last resort (don't even try to save money by buying the bigger chicken stew or chicken pasta baby food jars..they won't eat it..they like the very small $1.79 plain chicken puree jars)

when our dogs start turning their noses up at this end of the road food, i start planning their end of life. it is the ones who are scarfing down everything in sight butshould be actually suffering in all other ways that i find hard to decide about...stop eating please, so i know the time is here.

The Border Collies said...

**please please please** will you ask Sporty's parents what they've fed him for most of his life?

Well I'd love to, but Sport came into rescue when he was 16.5 and his owner died. I have no idea what he ate before he got here; all I know is what he will eat now. No scratch that ... I have no effin' clue what he will eat. He's been picky about food since we got him. You might like to look down the tags on the sidebar called "Sport" and you can read about how he came to rescue, and the trials and tribulations I had trying to get him to eat!! Sorry.

Liza said...

I lost my Dittany in July at 15-1/2. She was blind for the last 5 or so years of her life, and had CCD. Diapers solved, sort of, that problem, and I bought her her very own carpet steam cleaner. Put her on the WYWH diet (Whatever You Want, Honey). She ate right up to the end. I knew it was time because she told me, very clearly. But she was that kind of dog, she made her own decisions always. I probably could have kept her going, but she was tired and ready to go, and she let me know that.

JaderBug said...

I've been wondering how Sport is doing for quite some time, so happy to see he's still trooping, even if he is becoming an antique! Thanks for the update on Sporticus :-)

♥I am Holly♥ said...

Sport looks very good to be that age. I've never had a dog live that long. The oldest left me at 16. My last dog was sick for about 3 years and I had him on about 20 pills a day, I had plastic, papers, puppy pads all over the house, extra special vet food that cost a fortune but he ate it although usually got sick anyway. He had his good days, alot of bad days and I was a total wreck during that period. I loved him so much and every morning I would wake up and wonder what I would find when I went downstairs..would he be gone...would he be even more sick and could not get up and then what would I do...I finally made the decision to send him off to the Rainbow Bridge which had to be the hardest decision of my life. The big problem for me was he could still walk fine, he loved to eat although he got sick most of the time and I loved him with all of my heart. It finally came down to was the fact that maybe I was keeping him alive for my benefit and not his and as hard as it was, I took him to the vet one night and they talked to me along time and said "this will be the hardest decision of your life"....and let me spend time with him in the room until I said's time...and he was gone. I still miss him very much and like one post I read, I was hoping he would go on his own and I wouldn't have to make the decision but it didn't work out like that. Loving a dog that gets old and gets health problems is hard and I tell everyone that is thinking of getting a puppy to get that in mind..they don't stay young and healthy forever. Great post on a very hard subject that everyone with pets faces in life. Love, Debbie and Hollydog

riosmom said...

Sport is amazing - even though the photos only show his face, he doesn't look like an old dog now any more than he did when he first came into rescue.

How is Dexter with him? Sport probably doesn't even know Dexter exists.

Max, my 16 year old Shepherd/Husky/Lab mix, walked into the vet's for the last time with his tail wagging, still sure everyone he met was his friend. But he was deaf -though he always knew when I picked up my car keys - mostly blind, incontinent, and most seriously so lame he had to be helped up when he was laying down. When he fell back down after being helped up I knew it was time after months of agonizing whether I would be doing it for him or to him. At the time I was sure I was doing it for him but that wagging tail almost destroyed me. Looking back I am glad his tail was still wagging and his spirit was intact when it left his body.

I hope Sport doesn't die on your watch but if he does take comfort in all you have done for him.

Tristan and Braun said...

Yay! Congrats on the Magic gig! (Part time is better than no time!) I like your magician! He feeds you cake! That's awesome!

It's interesting to read about your Mr Sporticus adventures at your place. I'm sorry he is being such a complete pain and sucker at food, but like you said, at EIGHTEEN AND A FREAKIN' HALF YEARS OLD, His Highness probably think he's earned his rights to behave like a complete tyrant!

Sport does have a soft spot in my heart though. Right from the time I hear about him from rescue. The emaciated stinking old dog who wouldn't die. And still wouldn't. I know about the paranioa of "old-dog-sitting" coz I did it once for a really out-of-condition old dog who just went for a huge operation which basically has an incision that his half of his body size. For that 2 weeks, all I could think of was (as selfish as it seems) "DON'T DIE ON ME!!" so yeah, I know how it feels. But Mr Sporticus is a complete different diety and I believe he'll survive the hard life in the Sticks! ;-)

All that said, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to belittle the entire old-dog-care regime with Sporticus. It cannot be easy, even IF you don't have another 16 legs of your own to take care of. So I think you are doing an awesome job, FL and I salute you.

Today I'm happy to hear that Tweed is making you feel completely loved again. We do slave for these moments, don't we?

Three Dog Days said...

I know the frustrations of trying to get an old dog to eat... also about the peeing. What worked very well for my old boys was diapers. I used baby diapers and wrapped it around their waist like a belt (not around the tail like a human baby.) I know Sport is bigger but maybe you will find a way to make it work. I find it very hard to sleep when you are paranoid about waking up to the sounds of peeing. As for the eating, I say feed him what ever he will eat. I wish I had fed Blossom Puperonis his last night instead of hoping he would eat the chicken in the morning.

RachelB said...

Gentle hugs to Sport-- what a great long run he's having!

About that "please don't die" conversation? I cat-sat for a couple of weeks while some friends were out of town and their frail and ailing 17-year-old went on a hunger strike for the last three days of their vacation (and was hiding behind the water heater). I begged and pleaded and cajoled and enticed, and she was having none of it. She hung on until they got back and said goodbye, but just barely.

Ferreh Hiatt said...

One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard in regards to when to let a pet go is that you should make a list of his/her top three things they just LOVE to do in life. It might be eating, playing with the kids, frisbee/ball, herding, looking out the window, sitting with you on the sofa, you name it - we all know our pets best. But you make a list of those top three things that your pet lives for and when they are no longer able to do those things, that is when you know their quality of life is no longer what it used to be.

pibble said...

I read this last night, but I couldn't stop laughing long enough to comment. Now that I've collected myself... I can't believe how old Sport is. That's what good love and care gets a dog! His eyes are so bright, too. Jeesh! Yup, I guess I do believe in magic...

Kerry said...

Our Aussie Sydney just turned 14 last week. She's in terrific shape for a 14yr old. A few lumps and bumps, fading hearing, cataracts starting - but happy, and otherwise healthy.

I really watch her to make sure she still enjoys food, walks, life in general.

We lost two boys to cancer six months apart three years ago (worst year of my life). One went gradually over six weeks, and when we look back we realize we should have let him go sooner. The other went overnight within 24hrs with no warning that he was sick at all. He was my heart dog and it broke me.

It's really hard to know. With Sydney I just want to make sure we don't try to hang on to her too long, like we did with our sick guy.

I think once the suffering outweighs the enjoyments, it's time to let go. It's different for every dog.

StefRobrts said...

Thanks for the laughs, and the deep thoughts. This is a topic entirely too close to my heart right now, as our 15 year old eskie has cancer, and although she's made it three years since the diagnosis thanks to excellent vet care, it is catching up to her. As long as she has more good days than bad, it's impossible to give up and close those bright eyes forever. She breaks my heart everyday thinking about it. I don't mind cleaning up the accidents. It's the least I can do for a dog who has been such a joy for 15 years, literally the smartest dog I've ever met.

Sheri said...

I'm both laughing and crying right now. I can't believe Sport is still alive (mostly!). I mentioned way back when that I originally found your blog while searching the internet for old Border Collie health issues and a post with Sport came up. My old Border Collie is now almost 15 years old and we thought we were going to lose her one week ago today when she collapsed and could no longer stand. One giant steroid injection, and about 9 hours later, and she could stand and walk again. I think we have only bought ourselves a short amount of time, but the really hard part is that she is still alert and interested in things going on around her. The old girl used to live for sticks (not quite dumball, but close) but has seemingly adjusted the things she enjoys to her body's capabilities since she now stops to smell the roses (or poop as the case may be). This weekend, we bought 7 yoga mats to make "runways" on our hardwood floors so that she can move around better. It is so hard when she seems to want to be there, but her body is definitely failing. We lost her brother last year to a fast acting lymphoma and, while still very hard, it was clear that he could no longer go on. Anyway, glad to see the update on Mr. Sport!

Sheri said...

Oh, and congrats on the part-time job!

Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law and brother had their 6-yr-old rescued Saint Bernard go downhill fast this week, and she was euthanized yesterday. Turns out, per another Saint owner, the "8-10 years" normally predicted for giant breeds is really 6 years max for most Saints. The weekend was horrendous but ultimately she had a happy, healthy, post-rescue life, and a peaceful death that ended her suffering. Luckily for the animals, many of us have taken the responsibility to diligently manage a high quality of life for our pets, in life and in death, but unfortunately it doesn't get easier.
After the weekend's experience, and the Food Lady's thoughts on old dogs and SAINTS, I come away thinking all Saint Bs, all old dogs, ...all dogs, actually...are saints.

Debra Kay said...

My dogs have always let me know. It's a look and a knowing. They are done.

Ktbug Ladydid said...

Very difficult and important questions. Our old sheltie (15.5, diagnosed with kidney trouble at age 8) told us when she was ready; while this made the decision for us, it still wasn't easy. She was blind, deaf, and wonderful, but one day she just wouldn't get up, and looked at my mom.

I just hope that (many years from now) when my Half Pint is ready, she'll tell me, so I don't have to make that decision for her. Dogs (at least ours) talk to us, and let us know.

Sport sounds (though I can't say for sure, not knowing him) like he's enjoying his bossing-the-food-lady-and-other-dogs last days. I hope he happily makes it to 19.

Anonymous said...

Sport! Yippee!!! And he looks *exactly* the same - go figure :-)

Old age....I agree with Barb that you get used to them getting older. So if (or should I say "when") Piper reaches ancient old age, you will have already adjusted to her changes in attitude and energy level.

I have lost several dogs so far. One was an almost 16-yr old wolf hybrid (a big girl, she was about 65 pounds) and she simply stopped eating. Now she was a picky eater anyhow (not as bad as Sport but I still cooked stews for her) but when 3 days passed with no food, she was almost blind, totally deaf (with big teeth - that's scary to wake up!) and standing in a corner, I had her put to sleep.

Lupa was 12 years old and had bone cancer. That was horrid. She was still bright and perky - loved visitors and eating but was obviously in pain. She got diagnosed on a Friday, upped her pain meds in massive doses and when that didn't help at all, put her down on Monday. That sucked donkey dicks because she was still *here.* The first dog (Bandi) was soooooo friggin' old it was obvious it was time. Lupa-without the cancer - still had time left.

Now I have Oso who will turn 14 tomorrow. He is another wolf dog who is almost totally deaf and has moments of alarming senility - but at least they are always happy! He was out puppy play-bowing (or play-creaking as I call it) the other day with one of my other dogs so he is going nowhere in the near future. God willing.

And you are right - Wootie is going to live forever.

Anonymous said...

Sport IS the magic, don't you know? He's the reason your boss can be a successful magician!

Is what Sport is eating more important than the fact he's eating? As long as he's eating *something* when he's with you, I wouldn't worry too too much.

We adopted a 13 yr old cat with a class IV heart murmur this past summer. He'd been locked in a car with a buddy on a 100+ degree day by one of the volunteers at the shelter. When we heard about this old man, while looking for a kitty for my eldest daughter, we knew we couldn't leave him there. The chances of his being adopted were going to be very, very slim and old guys deserve to live out their last days in comfort. We were warned that any excitement could be the end of him, that he could go any day and to not expect more than a month or so with him.

First, we just let him be. He adjusted to the dogs although his ticker would race like crazy at first until he really got to know them. Then, we told him about Thanksgiving and Grandmas' laps. We told him if he'd live until Thanksgiving, we'd give him turkey. We bribed him with ham to last until Christmas.

Well, wouldn't you know it?! Here we're coming up to Easter and the little bugger is still going strong. He's even taken a thwapping or two from our 10 month old Doberman puppy and is none the worse for wear. Now, we have an old cat that begs at the table, jumps his teeny self up onto counters and is beginning to ask what we'll be serving for Easter!

The old ones, the surprise you sometimes!

Anonymous said...

I was very happy to see Mr. Sporticus is still doing well! I am an avid follower of your blog and am a fellow rescuer. I have only had one of my own dogs pass in my life to date. She was adopted by me around her age 7, and as a Boxer that is quite the senior. She was my heart dog even though I have 2 eskies that are both age 11 and I have had since pups. My best friend through Boxer rescue kept telling me as Maisy became older, incontinent (pullups with a little hole for her nub worked great) and deaf that I would just "know" because she would look "through" me and not at me. My poor girl developed Cushings disease and then pneumonia and after countless visits to the emergency vet getting the best of care, I kept her going on her medications and within a few days I came home and saw her panting heavily and she didn't see me, she looked through me. My vet told me I had given her the best of care and love and it took them forever to even find a vein so I know that it was her time. The hard part was I felt that I saved her life by rescuing her, but then I took her life. I know I did the right thing, but that was hard for me to deal with. Now her ashes grace my mantle and I want them buried with me when it's my time.
Godspeed Sporticus and I wish you much happiness until your day comes too.

Alaska said...

How nice to see Sport again. I innocently thought I would go back through the old Sport posts to relive some important moments, like the time he fell through the railing. The old Sport posts turned out to be quite a trip down memory lane, and that's all I'll say on that subject.

I once took care of an old cocker spaniel named Pookie Bear (yup) whose owners thought it likely he might not last until their return, and told me not to worry if it happened. Far from it! In the company of my crowd, Pookie rediscovered quite a bit of the old piss and vinegar. One day we were zooming across the water at warp speed in an open skiff, when Pookie spotted a duck and took a flying leap into the gloaming. Another day he was walking along a pier at low tide and suddenly disappeared (does this sound familiar?). Eventually I realized that the sound coming from the kelp bed 20 feet below was no other than "the old dog" practicing his dog paddling again, having strolled off the edge of the pier when my attention was elsewhere. He lived for a good long time afterwards, and I imagine Sport still has a few more rounds in him as well.

Anonymous said...

He's still alive. Long lives Sporticus. I have been wondering about him, esp since my sister's BC has now decided to go geriatric on her. I keep on saying: Be prepared for years more ... there's this rescue BC online who's 17 plus ... now 18.5! My childhood companion passed on when I was 18 and she was about 17 (rescued as a 1-2 yr old when I was two; she is a part of all my childhood memories). She was quite sleep-incontinent for a while before the end but by no means ready to go; the family house still shows her fave sleeping spots by the discoloured patches of fir flooring. So I'm always reminded of her more than 30 years after her death. She is still the canine "gold standard" that all subsequent dogs have been admonished to follow. Straight old age is a tougher call than illness. When my rescue retriever X got cancer at age seven; the vet said "you'll know when it's time" and I did, although I might have been a day later than when Angus told me through his eyes that it was time. In retrospect, I'm thankful the cancer came on so quickly and that there were no reasonable treatment options. It is tougher with palliative care. I think that Sport is one of those old codgers who will go on his own, when he wants to, just because. More power to him. And kudos to you and the magician for letting an old dog have his day.

Tammy said...

So glad to see an update on Sport..I cannot believe he is that old. Amazing. I can only hope to hold on to my old girl for that long. She is currently 13.5 and I love her so much. She has gone deaf, an irony considering that she spent ten years of her life as my hearing ear dog. *sigh* From time to time, I think about what clues are going to tell me that her time has come and I only hope that she will go gently into her goodnight. Thankfully, other than her deafness and a minor spinal issue, she seems to be in good shape. I wish dogs lived longer.

Pet Stain Remover said...

Magic indeed! Sporticus (fantastic name by the way) looks great for being almost 19!

citydog said...

Hooray Sporticus!

I've lost (well, they died--I didn't misplace them) five oldies in the last few years. Each was different.

My Lab was horrified the day he soiled himself and couldn't get up, and made it clear he was done.

One of my Belgians was in really rough shape (multiple terminal illnesses) but made it clear he wanted to stick around as long as he could, and died at home with no vet intervention.

The BC let us know when she'd had enough (age and hemangio).

My other Belgian wasn't ready, but he'd had a few brushes with pneumonia (secondary to megaesophagus) and I saw how bad it could get and how quick, and didn't want him to die that way.

In all cases, there were incontinence, and mobility issues, and I see those as part of the process. Once you work out your ways of dealing with them (pads and this brilliant harness from Ruffwear which I wish came standard with old dogs over 20lbs or so) it's pretty livable.

My weapon of choice for dogs who won't eat is the supermarket chicken pot pie (in the hot prepared food section).

Keep on keepin' on, Sport.