We brought him home 2 1/2 years ago. I saw him on Animal Control’s facebook page and I knew immediately he was going to be my next dog. He was elderly, maybe 9 or 10, and on their “VIP” list, which meant all adoption fees would be waived. It also meant that was the last attempt to get him placed before putting him on the e-list. He’d been picked up as a stray and then adopted out once before us. His first adopters fed him a bone which made him sick and they didn’t want to take him to the vet so they surrendered him back to AC instead.
I got him because I wanted him to have a nice place to live out the Golden Years. What hound wouldn’t enjoy their retirement on a small farm with a fenced back yard and horses and chickens to play with? So far I think we have given him just that. At first he was overly bonded to me and suffered enormous anxiety if I was out of sight. He has settled in and although not perfect he can exist independently of me. He loves trips out to the barn and when we take him camping he comes alive. He’s a therapy dog and joins me on visits to the nursing care facility. He walks in the rooms, gets his attention and love and then lays quietly at the resident’s feet while I visit. Other than his snoring, he’s a really good dog.
Lately life has been a little harder for him. Physically he is a bit of a mess. He has a blown ACL, borderline kidney function, a curvature in his spine, disc problems and arthritis. He’s almost completely deaf, has become incontinent and chews his back legs frequently (I suspect because of the nerve/neurological issues).
Aside from his physical issues I am struggling watching him go through the confusion. In the mornings he used to come in from his potty break and head straight for his food dish where breakfast would be waiting for him. Now, he seems to have forgotten that he eats breakfast or where we keep it and will follow me around blankly until I take him to his bowl. He will sometimes lay by himself in a vacant room and bark or cry for no apparent reason. He sleeps…A LOT…like probably 23 hours a day.
I know his time on this side is getting smaller. People always say “they’ll tell you when it’s time”. Maybe they do, but in my experience I have always missed that memo and waited too long until the choice is blatantly obvious. It’s a hard part of animal ownership, one we sign up for when we agree to be their steward. One I’m struggling with even more than usual because when your Dad is in hospice the fear of making a call that could be too soon OR even worse too late, is paralyzing.