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Why do good dogs have to get old?

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  • Why do good dogs have to get old?

    I came home tonight to find my 11 year old black dog limping badly on his left front, wobbly in the rear, stiff, hurting, and leaking urine. *sigh*

    I ran him up to the vet for a set of xrays, to find that he's got some pretty bad disc degeneration in between his shoulder blades, with a lot of narrowing of the spaces and some serious bridging. Hence the ouchy pooch.

    One year ago Grizz was diagnosed with grade 5 lymphosarcoma in the large intestine. I was told that chemo was pointless due to the location and grading of the cancer, and that he might have six weeks if I was lucky. Upon doing a little research, I changed him to a grain free diet, and basically vowed to keep him comfortable.

    One year later, Grizz has been doing wonderful. He eats most meals, he gained weight, he's active, bouncy, and annoying. In other words, perfectly normal for him. The vet on more than one occasion has wondered if the oncologist got the diagnosis wrong.

    After tonights xrays, I don't think he did. On top of the spinal problems, he has "spots" all over his lungs. And an enlarged heart. *sigh*

    I'm worried about my old black dog. He's been the BEST dog. He is a lab/greyhound/chow mix. He's the smartest dog I've ever seen. We joke that he's one opposable thumb shy of being human. In his younger days, he was a fantastic agility and obedience dog. He's always been one of my best friends. He's a talker, and will walk up to you when he wants something, look you in the face, and go "arrrr. arrrrr. arrr. grrrrr. arrrrr" He's my enforcer in the house, making sure the other dogs and cats all follow the rules. He's also been called the fun police, because surely no one but him is allowed to have fun.

    Right now he's laying at my feet because he can't get on the couch. I'm hoping the steroids kick in fast.

    We will treat him symptomatically until he tells me he doesn't want to play any more. I'm hoping that's a long time from now, but there is no telling at this point. Until then, he gets canned food with his dinner, all the cookies he wants, and all the rides he can handle.

    Why do good dogs have to get old?

  • #2
    With hugs and empathy, all I can think of to answer you is...you are blessed and lucky to have had the priviledge and joy of making his acquaintence.

    Big hugs, to you and to your dear enforcer.


    • #3
      My sympathies on facing this. Watching your beloved pet, and knowing his time is limited is just so hard. I lost my "heart dog", a black Chow mix a couple of years ago. I still have 3, but I still really miss him.


      • #4
        So sorry, and hoping for lots more quality time with your dear boy. My Corgi, Gumby, will be eleven this November, and I can't even begin to imagine life without him, so I know exactly how you are feeling. Massive hugs from VA. Enjoy each day with him.
        stained glass groupie


        • #5
          I hate hate hate hate HATE aging. I don't mind getting older myself, but each day, week, month, year that passes is that much less I get to spend with my animals. It's never ever long enough. My heart dog passed away while I was on vacation 2 years ago, and I still listen for her when I get up in the morning. Ugh.

          I'm so sorry, I sure hope you get as much time as possible with your sweet boy.
          “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion.” ~Emerson


          • #6
            Losing a great dog is never easy, but I think it sucks more when they're young. I lost my 7 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback to cancer last spring. I would have given anything to have had five more years with him.

            Arrows Endure - I'm really sorry about your dog. It's never easy..but it's comforting in some way to know that they loved you and were loved back, that they had wonderful lives lived .with full bellies, shelter and tons of love..it's what every dog should have, and unfortunately many don't.
            "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


            • #7
              Enjoy the time you have

              Every second I have with my 13 year old yellow lab I value. Even when she eats the only tomato on my tomato plant.

              I feel your pain. Pain shared is divided. Happiness shared is multiplied. I majored in math and that was the best thing I learned.
              A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


              • Original Poster

                Grizz is feeling a little better tonight, thanks to some steroids. He's still weak, and wobbly, and obviously can't tell where his hind end is.

                I work for an equine vet, so xrays and initial diagnostics were done at our clinic today. It saves me a little bit on the costs. I take the films and blood to the small animal vet in the morning to get their read on everything. What we have found so far is 7 discs in his back are bridged. Two look completely fused together. He has small tumors in his lungs. The equine vets and I are disagreeing on his heart. I think it looks slightly enlarged, they think it looks normal. I'm letting the small animal vet make that call, it's been awhile since I've looked at chest rads on a dog. For the record, it's about 4 intercostal spaces, and I think it's supposed to be three to three and a half. But he was standing for the xrays, so maybe that makes a difference. It looks round on the V/D. He was on his back for that one, but probably not in the "ideal" position, as we didn't sedate him, and we were using an equine xray machine.

                Currently, he's chewing a bone, which is a totally normal thing for him to do in the evening. He is restless, and it looks like he can't quite get comfortable. I'm hoping that there is something we can do to relieve the pressure on his spine without getting invasive, but I'm probably just deluding myself and wishing for miracles. But, if I can keep him pain free, or at least mostly pain free, then he will be fine for a little while longer. I can wish, right?


                • #9
                  I wish I knew the answer. Lost my darling Trudy November of 2010 and now her son, Ch. Sonesta Annakin, is nearing age 12 and is very wobbly, with degenerative disks in his shoulder area. It's just never easy.

                  Hugs to you and your loved one.
                  Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


                  • #10
                    I once heard a story about a little boy who was able to explain why dogs don't live as long as humans. Basically, it's that we are all put here on earth to learn life lessons. To learn to love and be loyal. To be kind and gentle. Once we learn these lessons, we are taken to heaven. Dogs just learn these lessons faster than humans, so they don't need to stay as long.

                    Hugs to you in this difficult time.


                    • #11
                      I lost my best friend 1.5 years ago. We went through several health problems like ones you mentioned. I did everything to keep her happy and comfortable but the day came when she gave up. Its just horrible that dogs dont live longer.


                      • #12
                        Dogs were given to us to force us to believe in an afterlife. I love my girls, but Kipling had a point -

                        There is sorrow enough in the natural way
                        From men and women to fill our day;
                        But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
                        Why do we always arrange for more?
                        Brothers and sisters I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

                        Buy a pup and your money will buy
                        Love unflinching that cannot lie--
                        Perfect passion and worship fed
                        By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
                        Nevertheless it is hardly fair
                        To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

                        When the fourteen years that nature permits
                        Are closing in asthma or tumors or fits
                        And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
                        To lethal chambers, or loaded guns.
                        Then you will find--its your own affair
                        But--you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

                        When the body that lived at your single will
                        When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)
                        When the spirit that answered your every mood
                        Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
                        You still discover how much you care
                        And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

                        We've sorrow enough in the natural way
                        When it comes to burying Christian clay.
                        Our loves are not given, but only lent,
                        At compound interest of cent per cent.
                        Though it is not always the case, I believe,
                        That the longer we've kept 'em the more do we grieve;
                        For when debts are payable, right or wrong,
                        A short time loan is as bad as a long--
                        So why in Heaven (before we are there)
                        Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


                        • #13
                          OP, I feel your pain, as I watch my 13 year old brittany struggle to stand, she also has disc issues (and the cleanest hips the vet ever xrayed - go figure). She has gone deaf this year, and I think her eyesight it not what it used to be. But she still begs for treats at every opportunity, and is the love of my life. I say that the day she doesn't beg for biscuits will be her last on earth.

                          It sure is hard.
                          There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                          • #14
                            My deepest sympathies to you and your beloved dog. I got my heart dog Siren through one bout of hepatitis early this year, and then it returned with a vengence. It took her in two weeks, but at least she felt good (although she quickly began looking like she was ready to whelp a litter of 8). We were lucky that her liver finally ruptured on a weekday at noon so we were able to get her to the vet before pain set in. She wasn't ready to go, but her body was done.

                            Each moment you have left with this wonderful friend. Take a lot of pictures.
                            ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                            Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                            "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                            • #15
                              Why do good dogs have to get old...I ask myself this question a lot. Last December, I made the decision to put my old girl down as she was approaching 18 and having a very difficult time moving around. Doggie diapers were not able to contain her accidents and she had a very hard time just moving around in the house. She was always happy to see us and she continued to eat her meals, but the life she was leading was no life for a dog. It was one of the toughest decisions I've had to make, but still - I felt "okay" knowing she had led almost 18 years full of love and happiness. She was my family's dog and I fulfilled my promise to bring her home with me a few years ago and care for her in her old age.

                              My heart dog Sallie is now 8 and a half. She has been my buddy through thick and thin. We took her in to the vet yesterday to get a few new lumps checked over and I was extremely relieved they were all just fatty. I am not ready to think about her getting older yet.

                              It is really unfair that they don't have similar lifespans to us. I told Sallie she is not allowed to go until I do, so she should plan on getting pretty damn old. I don't really care if this sounds bad, but I love and care for my dog more than I do most people - topped only by my parents and husband (and the husband knows, barely topped ...

                              The good dogs just become more than a pet, they are part of your family.
                              Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                              A Voice Halted


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by lizathenag View Post
                                Every second I have with my 13 year old yellow lab I value. Even when she eats the only tomato on my tomato plant.

                                I feel your pain. Pain shared is divided. Happiness shared is multiplied. I majored in math and that was the best thing I learned.
                                Love this. My 15 year old almost blind and half deaf ancient aussie pooped on the floor last night (just a little turd) and of course I got up during the night and stepped on it. I just washed up and cleaned it up, petted and loved on him since he felt terrible about it and tucked him back into bed. I treasure every second with him. Because I love him.

                                Good dogs come to us to teach us about what is important and when they have imparted all their wisdom and love upon us it is time for them to go. And somehow they know.
                                Hugs and love to you both.
                                "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


                                • Original Poster

                                  After a visit to the small animal vet yesterday, we learned that Grizz has one disc completely ruptured, several more that are compromised, and a lot of spondylosis on the rest of his spine.

                                  His lungs are full of fluid. We can't see obvious tumors, but there isn't any other explanation for the fluid.

                                  Today, his spine seems better, but he's very quiet for him, and I heard him cough for the first time. He's still eating and following me around the house. Of course, we've been giving him canned in his food, and since I NEVER do that, he's loving his meals. His breathing appears normal so far.

                                  I kind of have a feeling that this isn't going to be my best weekend ever.


                                  • #18
                                    Sending you prayers for strength, and for Grizz's comfort.


                                    • #19
                                      I am so sorry to hear the crummy news--sending you sympathy and strength for the coming days.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by jetsmom View Post
                                        Sending you prayers for strength, and for Grizz's comfort.
                                        Same here. We are all here for you, when you need a shoulder to cry on.
                                        There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams