August 14, 2011

Me and my shadow

The above cartoon was about cats, but my pooch has developed the same bad habit. She likes to stand in doorways, or really anyplace you might be headed where you can trip over her. This is not terribly new, but it is definitely getting worse.

She has always wanted to be where her people are, but was never this clingy. In the past, if I left the room, she wouldn't follow me right away. If I was gone for more than a few minutes though, she would come find me. But since we moved to California, she is at my heels at all times. If I leave the room to go get something, she gets up, even though her legs are bad and it pains her to get up. Often I am only gone for a few seconds, and I end up bumping into her on the way back in. If I am moving around the house too much, she will just stand a doorway, knowing that I, or someone else, will be coming by soon.

I was up in Washington for a week in July. While I was gone, she became ill. She couldn't keep food down and was losing interest in eating. The lack of interest in eating is pretty significant for her as she still does a happy dance when it is mealtime, even on two bad knees. With her diabetes, it is even more important for her to have a steady intake of food. When her blood sugar gets too low, she becomes disorientated and doesn't have the strength to stand. It can be pretty scary.

There was no cell service where I was staying, and my poor roommates were left to take care of my sick pooch without being able to contact me regularly. They were great caregivers. They cleaned up all the messes, consulted with Kristy for critter advice, and when the pooch didn't improve, they took her into the vet. The diagnosis was inconclusive, but they put her on meds to essentially shut off the brain trigger that makes you throw up. She was better for a day or two, but then was back to losing her meals. It was a helpless feeling being so far away and unable to do anything.

When I returned to San Diego, I continued feeding her the milder rice and chicken broth meals that my roommates had started. She improved relatively quickly, and was back on her regular food in a couple of days. My non-medical diagnosis - she missed me and made her self sick with worry.

This is nothing about what a great dog owner I am, it is just the way things are now. Things were already pretty different down here for her, but her sight and hearing have really deteriorated over the last six months. It is easy for her to feel lost and disconnected now. When I wasn't sitting next to her in the evenings, or in the bed next to her when she woke up in the morning, I think she kind of shut down.

I was recently over at Kristy's place to house sit for five days. I have left the pooch behind in the past because I thought it was more disruptive than having her at home. There are more stairs to navigate, and animals she is not used to there. But I brought her along this time, and the change of venue didn't seem to phase her much. She was just happy to be where I was.

So I will take the standing in doorways, getting underfoot and sticking to me like a shadow if it makes her feel safe. I am just happy to still have her by side.