Friday, October 30, 2009

Ah, old pets . . .

I tweeted yesterday (yes, I tweet now. Occasionally.) that "Old pets are expensive." I don't think I need to have added that they are worth it, as they are family. But just in case that wasn't understood: they are totally, totally worth it.
This seemingly disembodied head is dear 16-year-old Leroy in his cone, to prevent him from chewing at the growth on his chest. You might not know this, but these cones are really noisy in the middle of the night when the dog starts bumbling around, bumping into the bassinet (eeeeek! He's going to wake the baby!!!!!!) God, not a restful night! Jim is off right now buying some soft neck-pillow-type collar that will be more comfortable for him and much less likely to wake up Clementine.
He is also wearing a T-shirt to keep the lump from oozing on stuff. Poor old boy. We've already had this growth removed twice, and you know what surgery costs. We don't really want to do that again, because Leroy is 16, but when we got home from my dad's birthday dinner last week it had burst and was bleeding everywhere and Jim had to take him to Dove Lewis, the emergency hospital, and pay $75 for it to stop bleeding on its own while he was waiting, and then be told there was nothing they could do anyway but remove it, for double the cost of going to our regular vet. Sigh. Still trying to avoid surgery.

The lump, however, is not the thing we worry about. Leroy's having trouble with his hind legs. He's had arthritis for years. Check out this dog's pharmacy:
Crazy! He's been on regular Adequan Canine injections, which have worked wonders (if you have an arthritic dog, seriously: look into it), but now it seems like he might have a herniated disc in his back and he's just really losing strength, and kind of walking hunched up like a raccoon. There have been some bad days. He was actually scheduled for acupuncture this morning, but he's doing better so we canceled it. Jim and I have not even ever had acupuncture! Of course, nor have we had radiation (thank god), but Leroy has, a couple of years ago when he had melanoma on the roof of his mouth that -- by sheer luck -- the vet caught early while removing an abscessed tooth! (Usually that is not caught early enough to treat.)

All this stuff really adds up. Special food, multiple medications, vet visits. And looming over all of it is the terrible knowledge that one of these days . . . the time will come where we have a decision to make. It's not now, and maybe it won't be very soon. It's been three years since we lost our Shiloh, my beautiful Siberian husky. In her final weeks (when she deteriorated fast after initially responding well to radiation for nasal cancer), I remember that everyone would say, "You'll know when it's time," and I wasn't sure if that was true. How would we know? But you know what? We really really did know.

Leroy is a very tough old boy. He's still eating happily and can walk well enough (with the exception of a scary day or two last week) for two short daily walks. He's still happy, and hopefully will stay so for a while yet :-)


An another, totally unrelated, topic: Patrick Rothfuss has a great post up today on how even writers hate their job sometimes. Check out that unbelievable email from a reader . . . (thanks, Stephanie, for the link!) Oh, and while you're over at Pat's blog, scroll down a few posts. He's got an awesome fundraiser going right now: it's like a raffle; you purchase chances to win your name (or name of your choice) going into his next book! The proceeds go to Heifer International, who he raised over $100,000 for last year! This fundraiser is somewhat scaled back from last year's, which practically got to being a full-time job for him and his girlfriend. Since they have a brand-new baby, I'm glad they didn't attempt such a massive undertaking this year. It's pretty awesome they're doing it at all.

Cheers!

17 comments:

Shannon Messenger said...

Poor Leroy! I hope he feels better soon.

I know what you mean about knowing "when" it's time. I've already lost two dogs in my life (and I'm only 27, they just don't last long enough, do they?) and each time it was REALLY the time to put them down, we knew. (Still hard, but at least you can take comfort in knowing that it's really time).

Oh, and if you find a solution to the noisy cone problem, please share. That info might come in handy in the future.

Get some sleep and keep tweeting! (I look forward to them!)

Heather said...

Give Leroy a scratch behind the ears for me!

Gwenda said...

Don't know if Mr. Leroy is on something like prednisone yet, and it definitely has its side effects--BUT it kept George the Dog mobile once he hit 14 and was far easier on him than some other things we tried. At that point, we were very much in the place of, "He's 14, make him as comfortable as possible!"

Much love, as always.

Mel said...

Poor Leroy -- he looks utterly enthused with his 'lampshade'. We just went through that with our weiner dog - he managed to tear himself on something while we were out hiking and had to have it stitched. You can trim down the expanse of it so it's not quite to satellite dish-ish....as long as he can't contort to do the chewing...

*sigh*

I'm a vet tech, in real life *grin*, and I have to say that Leroy must have a guardian angel - oral carcinomas are wicked-deadly so to have caught it...well...a blessing indeed.

On the arthritis front -- anywhere you can take him for cold laser therapy? We do it in our hospital and it's FAB...non-invasive and VERY effective. I'll also plug the acupuncture...we did it for Oscar (the warrior weiner dog) when he hurt his back a few years ago...

Lots you can do to keep him comfy...like you say, you'll know when the time comes...

Katie said...

Oh poor sweet Leroy :-( I hope Jim's pillow can make him more comfortable.

Shari said...

Laini, just when I thought I couldn't admire you anymore for being such a creative inspiration....the amount of care and compassion that both you and Jim are giving to Leroy is truly amazing. Thank God that he is part of your family and you are showing him such a great amount of love during his transition. I think if Karma has anything to do with it, you'll be accepting a special award in the near future!

Anonymous said...

Acupunture and canine chiropractic is sooo worth it. Both take a while to exhibit all of the benefits, so please start BEFORE you think he needs it.

Bless you for taking care of the boy who has blessed your lives!

Mary Ann

a cat of impossible colour said...

Thanks for the link to Patrick Rothfuss's article - I love it when he rants! :) And wow, hard to believe that someone actually emailed that to him.

Nothing drives me crazier than people saying, "I've always wanted to write a novel, but just never had the time." I'm always tempted to ask what they do, and then tell them the same thing. "I've always wanted to be a lawyer/plumber/astrophysicist ..."

All the best for Leroy's recovery! You're taking such great care of him, and I'm sure he will be with you for a long time yet.

Shelf Elf said...

Laini - my puppy Malcolm knows the "cone of shame" well. I hope Leroy gets along better with a lovely soft cone. He is one lucky hound to have such loving people.

*belly scratches for Leroy + homemade cookies*

Shelf Elf

Animal Shelter Workers said...

The situation with Leroy sounds so familiar. I've lost 3 old dogs in the last three years so I've been there, with the meds, constant vet visits, knowing the time was coming. But, I wouldn't change a thing. One thing I wanted to tell you is that there is a good collar that is something like those we humans wear when we have whiplash. It is easier for the dog to eat/drink and they don't bang into things while walking around.
God bless you and Leroy. Sweet looking boy.

Katy
animalshelterworkers.blogspot.com

Suzanne Young said...

That link to Patrick's post was awesome!Thanks for sharing it!

Anonymous said...

Poor Leroy, I hope he gets better soon!

-QZQ

anne said...

as long as he's eating and having some quality of life, responding to you all, well, he's just an old pup, is all. Yes, it IS expensive, and emotional, but some day, that will be over, and then you'll have good memories of his long life and how you did all you could for him, to assure his comfort.

children are similar, but different, that way. They go off on their own, after you've done what you can to raise them, and you are left with (hopefully) good memories. (and the possibility of more, as adults!)

be well

johanna said...

Big hugs and kisses for Leroy. Poor little guy.

BJW said...

Good boy Leroy. Linus sends his regards.

pixie said...

Laini,

So sorry to hear about your boy. We're losing our Blue Girly and it isn't easy.
Elizabeth (SAW) mentioned your name over lunch yesterday, so I came here and this is what I found.
Sending peace to you and your fam.

-pixie

Elena said...

Poor Leroy! I hope he starts feeling better!