Kira snored softly while I spoke to my husband on the phone last night. He asked his usual question, “How is she doing?” She’d fallen a few times outside and a few times I’d barely managed to catch her inside but overall she is doing well. Over the past year Kira has been plagued by very serious and mysterious illnesses. We’ve twice been strongly advised to let her go. Thankfully, Kira had other plans.
She is a tough old girl. Kira is 12.5 and will be 13 in June. And last night my husband made a very astute observation. We are lucky that now Kira has a typical old dog issue. The vet diagnosed her with old dog vestibular disease. Kira has a head tilt, is wobbly on her feet and seems to have some vertigo, especially when she first gets up from lying down. Several times she has had nystagmus, where her eyes rapidly flick back and forth. All of this will likely greatly improve within a few weeks. And it is something old dogs get. Kira has stuck around long enough to have a condition that commonly affects old dogs. That is pretty remarkable. And my husband’s one observation greatly shifted my perspective. I’d been focused on how it was much harder now to get Kira up and down the one step into the garage to take her outside and how I often had to race to catch up with her to keep her from bumping into corners as she made staggering turns. I was thinking about how Kira slipped in the garage last night. Of course, Kira has not slowed down because she is wobbly and unsteady on her feet. She still moves at the same speed, Kira speed – fast and determined.
But just like Kira, we are adjusting. We bought a bunch of rug runners so she now has a runway through the garage. We moved things around so there is nothing to bang into when she careens wildly around a corner. We added another large dog bed that is fairly easy for her to get up from. We spend a bit more time bringing her toys and rubbing her ears. And I try not to groan when she barks wildly outside, telling the neighborhood she has her ball. But mostly we are just thankful to still have our old girl.
*In typical Kira fashion, she’s adjusted amazingly well and once she’s been standing for a bit can still move pretty well.
Way to go, Kira and Co.! We also had a vet advise us to put our guy down when he was about 15 and a half. He had a spinal injury when he was 9 and as he moved past 15 had a hard time with his rear legs which finally resulted in us getting a cart for him so he could still go on walks (and hikes!). I had taken him in to the vet for a front paw issue and to ask if it could have been caused by the cart configuration and if she could look at it and see if she saw any issues. She, instead, said that it might be time for us to let him go.
We talked and thought on it and his front paw issue went away and he kept barking us out of bed every morning to go on walks and we said, “no, he’s not there yet”. We found a different vet, who actually was able to help us get some of his mobility back as well as give him control over his bladder again. And she listened to him, and us, and trusted us to do what was best for him and him to let us know what was best for him as well. He was with us for a year and a half more. An amazing guy.