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Corgi getting older...and I'm having a hard time with it...

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  • Corgi getting older...and I'm having a hard time with it...

    My adorable, bossy, larger-than-life Corgi is starting to age. She'll be twelve next month.

    In the past few months, she has begun to gradually lose her ability to keep her little hind legs under her on non-carpeted floors. And while she's always occasionally missed the jump on one of the steps as she's climbing the five steps up to the house (her legs, after all, are only 3"'s a design flaw ), it is now harder for her to recover. Instead of "bouncing right back" and running on up, she now has to stop, regroup, and make a big effort to get going again to finish the climb. On her way down, she just zips right down...she's losing the muscle control to be able to stop if she wanted to. Once momentum has her, she has to go!
    She already receives anti-inflammatory injections and oral joint supplements per vet prescription, so there really aren't other options to slow down the physical deterioration process.

    The point of this post? I suppose I'm just looking for a pat on the back. I've had to put other dogs to sleep, and a horse, and I've always known "when." And I know "when" is approaching for my dear Daisy. The decision I have to make for her, though, is remarkably more difficult than it ever has been for me before. She is THE BOSS...the pack leader. Her hearing is perfect, her vision is fine, and she's just as feisty as ever. Outside in the grass, to people who don't know her well, she probably appears fairly normal. But I see, and I know, and even my husband (who--love his heart--isn't the most observant when it comes to animals) sees it.

    I even made THE appointment and cancelled it, worrying that I'm being premature. That is VERY uncharacteristic of me.

    I think my biggest dilemma is that even though her little body is wearing out, I fear she is one that won't ever tell me "when." I strongly suspect that she won't give up easily, and due to her extremely strong keep-everyone-in-line-and-whipped-into-shape instincts, her "when" would be well beyond when I should have stepped in and let her go.

    I'm pretty indecisive about this, and that in unusual for me. Does anyone have any idea what I'm trying to explain?

    Thoughts, advice, compassion appreciated.
    "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

  • #2
    Is she in pain? Corgi's are prone to DM which is not a painful condition, but a weakening one.

    If she is just arthritic, a NSAID trial may help her significantly. Its certainly worth a try if you are considering euthanasia.

    Might be something best discussed with your vet, name your concerns and see if they have any further suggestions for management, or support a decision to euthanize.

    Sorry you are having to go through this, its never easy to make these decisions.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks, Squish. I have a call into my vet. I will probably hear from her tomorrow and I will see what she has to add.
      "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


      • #4
        I do, indeed, know exactly what you are trying to say.

        and I am sorry for you.

        I would probably not allow her to get to the point of being unable to get around, but I also think I might try some other suggestions like what Squish offered.



        • #5
          I have had corgis for 34 years and I know how hard it is to let one go. Mine have always let me know when it's time. They were fiercely loyal, even up till the very end. I let them make the decision and then I'm at peace with the decision, even though my heart breaks making it. So sorry for what you are going through.


          • #6
            With some modifications, can she continue bossing, trotting, eating, playing, and cuddling?

            If it is weakness and lack of coordination, not pain, from that long Corgi back, you can make her life easier.

            Area rugs are her friend and easier for you than booties. 5 steps in and out of the house? Time to carry her. My own long-backed old man, due to suspected disc disease after one night of hind end laxity, is now forbidden from stairs and jumping off furniture. So he is carried over the short flight of steps to my front door and is banished from furniture. (I bought the little ramps to help him onto the couch because I thought, after sooo many years of being a lapdog, he would insist on being on the bed and couch. I was wrong!)

            My old man just went to the beach. He sniffed, sunbathed, tried to inhale dead fish, played, cuddled, and had a grand time. He still goes on hikes, car rides, still does tricks, meets new pups and people, etc. Some limitations for his safety and well-being don't mean he needs to be euth'ed. If he were in pain or at risk of damaging himself from lack of sensation (like toe dragging to the point of bleeding & infection), it would be a different story.


            • #7
              Can you add a maybe 12"-18" carpeted ramp to the stairs, so she can go up and down without steps and everyone else can still use them?
              Maybe make the ramp a bit longer than the stairs, so it is not too steep?

              Practically every corgi I have known to old age has ended up with a disabled hind end and generally that is when the vet and owner make that last decision for the dog, quality of life then being questionable.


              • #8
                I had one of these, down to the bigger-than-life-ness. When the time finally came, he did tell me. He was exhausted, and just not enjoying life--though not in pain. Just ... tired.

                But not till after two years of dragging his butt around. I have a staircase that goes from my back porch down to my fenced yard. Before he lost his back end completely, I took some one-foot sections of 2x6 and built up the back of each step on one side so he essentially had a staircase at the side that was half-steps. This worked well for almost a year; then I had to start using my otherwise never-used "front" door and a small ramp off of the lower porch at that end of the house. That was during winter; absolutely destroyed the carpet in my living room, dragging his muddy self across it--but, heck, what's important here? Carpet can be replaced (or, in my case, industrially shampoo'd). That particular staircase did not lend itself to the ramp idea, though I did consider it. But the half-steps worked well.
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.


                • #9
                  pm eventgroupie2 ~ a 'wealth' of information & support in 'this' ~

                  First ~ Jingles & AO ~

                  Second ~ pm eventgroupie2 ~ a 'wealth' of information and support in this difficult old age scenario ~

                  Third ~ ((HUGS)) for both of you ~
                  Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                  • #10
                    I second the ramp and rugs. My dog door is placed in a wall on my back porch, and has a ramp leading up to it. Rugs with no-slip rubber underneath will provide better traction.

                    These won't stop the aging process, but will hopefully make her remaining time less stressful.



                    • #11
                      Are you mostly worried she won't "tell you" if she needs help passing? some dogs just quietly go in their sleep, maybe you'll be lucky that way..
                      I think you'll know when it's time.
                      But not now- all she needs is a ramp and some rugs now.


                      • #12
                        My little girl Corgi made it to 15 before I had to make The Decision. Like yours, she started to have a difficult time with stairs. Our back porch was 12 steps up and she just couldn't get her hind end going enough to make it. I began to carry her up the stairs, which was no easy feat as she really didn't like to be picked up. She finally realized that I was helping her and as long as I carried her facing forward, she would relax.

                        Her sight started to go and then she started to have difficulty getting down the stairs as well. Even the one step out the front door was hard because she couldn't judge depth any longer. She'd gather herself up and just leap, landing in a heap. She finally allowed me to help her down as well.

                        I had to put her on Metacam every other day to keep her comfortable as she was getting arthritic. Her appetite certainly never waivered! What Corgi in their right mind refuses food!?

                        When her mind started to go and she would "get lost" out in the back yard, not knowing which way to come back in, I started to question her quality of life. The decision making was her getting lost underneath our back porch at night and it took me an hour to find her. She had gotten pretty deaf, so calling her didn't get any response. I finally found her sitting, staring at the wall, stuck in a corner underneath the porch. She had no idea where she was. It was a heartbreaking decision, but she was always so vital, I knew this was no way for her to be.

                        I'm sorry your old girl is failing. The Decision is never, ever easy. I only wish I had one elderly that would go peacefully in their sleep. Of all the dogs I have owned in my lifetime, I ended up having to decide when for each of them. It sucks.
                        Lost in the Land of the Know It Alls


                        • #13
                          I know exactly what you mean. It's a horrible day when you look at your active, young dog, and realize that the dog is aging and will never be exactly what they were. It may be years from the start to a peaceful end, but it really hurts when you realize that aging is taking it's toll.
                          You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                          • #14
                            Adding to those saying the decision is never easy -- but anti-inflammatories, supplements ( for joints, inflamation and energy-- ranging from glucosamine, etc., to turmeric, Chinese mushrooms, etc), ramps, floor coverings with purchase (I've used Yoga matts), can all help a great deal to keep senior doggies happy for a long time. Also, a good (make that great!) veterinary chiropractor can be a literal life-saver-- or at least considerable extender!-- for dogs with spine and hip problems. My own (human) chiropractor uses a massage therapist who specializes in small animals for his severely arthritic 14 year old German Shepherd and says she does wonders.


                            • #15
                              The Corgi 3 R's

                              Rugs, Ramps and Rimadyl.

                              We lost our "Boss Man" Corgi in February to liver cancer, hard, as he had just started to slow down a bit, no stairs, but he could no longer get on or off the couch without help.

                              He had to be in much more pain than he showed, so I understand you being concerned that you won't know it's time. The MRI showed how advanced the cancer was, it had obviously had been there quite some time, yet until his system tanked and he got a severe respiratory infection, there was no symptom, other than he seemed a bit more willing to nap in the sun, and didn't go to the barn as often, only on nicer days.

                              Make the changes in your house that you can, and watch your friend. On the last day, after we had the diagnosis and the prognosis, I looked in his eyes, when he allowed me to give him a pill (sedative) without a snarling fight, I knew he simply wanted to be free from pain, he let me take over control. That was my answer.

                              You'll notice something with your dear as well, and that one thing will likely tell you it's alright.

                              Hope it's not anytime too soon.


                              • Original Poster

                                After a nice, long talk with my vet, we're going to change up her management a bit (she is not a single-issue dog...we've been dealing with multiple issues for a while) and see how things go. I am relieved, though, that my vet does not believe that she is any measurable pain. My vet sees Daisydog about every three weeks, so I have confidence in her opinion.

                                Thank you, everyone, for your compassionate stories and helpful advice. Your accounts of your pets and kindness are very heartwarming
                                "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                  Are you mostly worried she won't "tell you" if she needs help passing? some dogs just quietly go in their sleep, maybe you'll be lucky that way..
                                  I think you'll know when it's time.
                                  But not now- all she needs is a ramp and some rugs now.

                                  My old man passed away this winter. Not a corgi- he was a rescued shepherd mutt, somewhere around 12 years old. He deteriorated a lot in his final years- cataracts started when he was 9ish, diabetes kicked in at around 10, and towards the end arthritis made it difficult for him to walk on our tile and wooden floors.

                                  We bought carpet runners, dutifully gave him insulin shots at mealtimes, and otherwise did our best to make his last years comfortable. It was almost lucky that he wasn't moving around much, because it meant he didn't have much issue with bumping into furniture (he went completely blind as far as I can tell).

                                  At the beginning of the winter, it became pretty obvious his time was coming. He was always a bit of a mopey/sleepy type, but he was becoming less and less interested in his food and going outside. I left for a 3-week school trip in January, worried that he would pass away while I was gone, or even worse, that he would still be hanging on when I got home, and I'd have to be the one to tell my parents to euth. him.

                                  I found out when I returned that one morning, my dad carried him out to the curb for potty after breakfast. After bringing him back in and depositing him on his blankie, my dad began to prepare his own meal. When he went back into the den, he was gone.

                                  Although it was upsetting that I wasn't around for his last few days, I find comfort knowing that he went on his own and he was surrounded by loving family.

                                  If they're not in pain (moreso than the general aches of aging), I'm a strong believer in letting nature run its course. You will know if/when you have to make the decision for her.


                                  • #18
                                    I agree with the others... if you have to make that decision for her, she'll let you know. Otherwise, as long as she's still happy and not in major pain, just make accommodations to help her get around and remain happy and comfortable.

                                    My older dachshund is at least 12 now and I'm going through the same thing... she's had a ton of different issues this past year or two, and I worry that she's losing her sight and hearing (and sometimes her brain as well... she seems very confused often). But we have her on joint supplements and Chinese herbs and are adding in an NSAID now as well, and she gets carried around the house and has a special front-pack to ride in when I take them for walks, and she is quite happy being borne around like a queen everywhere. Yesterday we took both the dogs for a long hike, and though she rode in the front pack most of the way, she had quite a few stretches where she got down and waddled happily along the trail and went wading right into the creek to splash around. So although it kills me to see her slow down and get old and have her painful or confused moments, I know that she's still happy to be alive right now and I just need to do what I can for her as long as I can.
                                    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                                    Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                                    • #19
                                      Many older corgis develop DM - degenerative mylopathy. It is not painful - only good thing about this darn disease. I suggest you join the yahoo group "wheelcorgis". Great people, very supportive, and knowledgable about dealing with DM. Corgiaid will lend you a cart that your dog can learn to get around with. There is a simple DNA test to determine if your dog is at risk, but no positive diagnosis until a necropsy is done after death. DM cannot be cured, but you and your dog can learn to live with it until you both have had enough. I would suggest not making "the decision" until you read and talk to some of these people so deeply commited to keeping their dogs happy for a long as possible.
                                      PS - I only know about all this because I have a coming 12 year old corgi named Gumby who, next to my husband and my Arabian Willie (who many of you have met through his journey through penile cancer, surgeries, and laminitis bouts), is the love of my life. He started dragging his back left leg shortly after Christmas last year, and has progressed to having no control over his hind left leg, and only pushing ability with his right hind. We built ramps over the deck steps and have tons of throw rugs making trails over our tile and hardwood. He goes out to do his business with a sling for his hind end. He has not taken to his cart, but many will. We are still trying to convince him to use it, but he is quite the stubborn boy. He still has control of his bladder and bowels - that probably will be the deciding issue for us, as I will not let him lose his dignity, and messing in the house would upset him terribly as he has never done that unless ill. So we are still on the journey with him, but this phase could last quite awhile before "that" time comes. It is a heartbreaking journey, but as long as he comes out to play with his toy (best he can) and is happy being petted on the couch next to me at night, we will continue the journey with him. We owe him that much.
                                      stained glass groupie


                                      • #20
                                        Sea breeze. I am going through something similar with my almost 14-year-old Corgi. His hind legs do not allow him to stand up. He scoots around the house he doesn’t seem very happy about this. I’m so heartbroken but wonder if it is time. Please share what happened with your experience. Thank you.