This morning I finally had to give up the fight and take Anna on her final chariot ride to the vet. She was in so much pain, it just wasn’t right to continue trying to keep her going.
Even when I’d made up my mind and SDXB helped me get her there, I still wasn’t sure…maybe if the pressure sores were what hurt so much, maybe there was something else to try. The vet, Dr. Brooke Hoppe, examined the sore spots carefully. When she manipulated them, the dog evinced no discomfort at all—didn’t blink an eye.
Dr. Hoppe said the large sore on her right hip was not a pressure sore and that there really was no sign of infection in it. She concluded that it was a patch of somewhat inflamed skin, and that handling it did not cause any pain. That was why Anna could lay on the hard floor on top of it—because that was not what hurt. Ditto the elbow pain: her elbow patches were just the usual calluses. One had been a bit abraded, but it was not a pressure sore.
The pain was not on the skin: it was bone-deep. Her spine was effectively calcified into an inflexible rod, and her hips were becoming deformed from the arthritis and probably, too, late-stage dysplasia. She could no longer sit at all, and to lay down she had to cantilever herself halfway there and then slide to the floor with a thud. The hair on her hocks was dirty and worn where she’d had to slide to a down position. Dr. Hoppe said there were a couple of other painkillers we could try, since the Tramadol was doing little or nothing for her. But it was unlikely they would help much, and if they did, the effort would be strictly palliative: there was nothing we could do for the condition of her bones.
So, it was time.
It’s going to be pretty lonely around this place. While I was vacuuming out the double-sided dog door preparatory to sealing it into its burglar-proof mode, I looked up and expected to see Anna standing in the door to the room, where she would be watching me whenever I indulged any such behavior. And throwing away poor old worn-out Toy was pretty hard.
But on the other hand… Now I can go out of town for a weekend. I haven’t even made a day trip in longer than I can remember, or visited my friends on the far west side, because I’ve had to be back here by six o’clock to feed and medicate the dog. I have exactly no one who can be imposed upon to come over here and feed the dog twice a day and medicate her upwards of six times a day. By the time the end finally dragged around, I was giving her 16 pills a day, smearing two different ointments on her twice a day, and administering four eyedrops every day. No one is gunna do that so I can take off for Flagstaff or Santa Fe. Now I don’t have to scour dog poop out of the porous CoolDecking around the pool-almost every day!-and now I can take down the jury-rigged fence that kept her from falling in the drink. Now I can trade in the gas-guzzling Dog Chariot for a more fuel-efficient car. Now when I clean the house, it will stay clean for a few days. And now that I don’t need a big fenced yard, I can sell my house and move someplace smaller and easier to care for.
It’s amazing to think that dog has been with me through several major phases of my life. When I brought her home as a puppy, I was solidly middle-aged. Now I’m old. That was part of the dilemma about putting her to sleep. Hey! My bones ache, too—my back aches when I get up, and my shoulders hurt and my neck hurts, but I’m not ready to shuffle off this mortal coil because of it. Why should anyone think she would be? But I have to allow, I can get up, which she could barely manage.
Now what? On the one hand, I think no more dogs!!!!! On the other, it’s hard to imagine being without a doggy companion. I’ve had dogs—big ones, shepherds and retrievers and a dobe and a greyhound—all my adult life. If I get another dog, it can’t be another 85-pounder. It will have to be small enough that I can pick it up to get it into the car if it’s sick or hurt, small enough that I can pick it up to take it out of harm’s way (oh! the aggressive off-the-leash curs Anna and I engaged!). Since I don’t much care for little yappers, I can’t imagine what kind of dog that would be.
So for the nonce I’m done imagining.
I probably won’t post tomorrow. The rest of this weekend will be spent in a cleaning frenzy.