life saving duty

Jake was getting on and anti social when we got him, four years ago. He protected us from swimming pools and violence on TV, from passing strangers, and from Grandad. He guarded me against bookclub buddies, making sure that anyone who movedin their seat got a Very Hard Stare. He made it clear that approaching dogs would be eaten, and that he shouldn’t be let off his lead.

Now he’s properly old, and blind, and he doesn’t care about what’s happening on TV. Visitors can step over him without causing a stir. Bookclub buddies are ignored. Dance mates are warned about being inadvertently friendly. An unthinking pat can cause much aggravation, but Grandad may be permitted an odd pat. When he least expects it. Jake will approach and welcome displays of affection, but only when he feels like it.

And we’ve discovered that doggy health is more complex than we thought. He’s been drinking more and eating less. He’s either in a deep sleep or pacing about, as if there was a sausage somewhere he can’t find. We thought he’d probably need his insulin uptake boosted, so took him to the vet. Hmm, said Peter, bring him back in the morning for a blood test some hours after he’s eaten. Hmm, said Peter, I want a better look at his eyes. Hmm, said Peter, I may do a kidney function test.

We spent the evening reading about doggy renal failure.

We were not prepared.

Yes, we need to top up the insulin again. No, there’d not be a kidney function test just yet.

Instead “It wouldn’t be fair to keep him going like that. With his very bad eyes. They’re very painful. Never mind the diabetes, or the kidneys. The eyes are that bad.”

Whaty what what?

Jake has always had gunk about his eyes, which gets removed when he’s showered. The gunk got worse over the past few months. We noticed, but thought it was old age. We never considered that it could indictate something serious. Dry eye. No tears being produced to clean and lubricate his wee unseeing eyes. Now, scratched and painful eyes. “If I saw that dog out walking, with those eyes, I’d wonder about his vet.” And we, goofy people, had no idea. Our lovely grumpy pet is in so much pain that it would be better to put him to sleep, and we knew nothing about it.

So now, we’re in doggy ER mode. Superduper ointment in his eyes 3 times a day for 10 days to try to kickstart his tear ducts. I wonder if that’s even possible, or if Peter is giving us time to get used to the idea. Giving us something to do, however useless, to assuage our guilt. Giving us time to show our love to the boy by holding his muzzle tight shut, his paws tucked in, while we stick ointment in his sore eyes. (Yes, it’s a 2 person job.)

Giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. Giving us a chance to forgive ourselves.

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6 thoughts on “life saving duty”

  1. Just crying… A wee bit… Define caring. You, Jake, The vet, the family. Funny thing I just was reading a James Robertson short story in Republics of the Mind, same thing about caring and love, none of that grand stuff, gunk and wiping. Jake will know the touch whatever you decide he’ll know it’s love. Take care. Xx

  2. I don’t really “like” sad dog stories. I handle them worse than tragic people stories. I am so sorry for you and Jake. My own Rupert is indescribably old. Indescribably, because when we adopted him from a shelter they said they thought he might be 7-9 years old. That was five and a half years ago. I miss him every day, but when I try to bring him to town with me, you can tell he is not as happy as being out at the farm with Leif and the other dogs and the farm cat. He has a few lumps that worry us, teeth in dire need of a cleaning, and Leif thinks his hearing and his vision is starting to go. But, he seems happy except when it’s cold out. He runs and plays and still makes the massive jump onto the bed when he feels he’s not getting his share of the dog love. He still keeps the other dogs (three times his size) in line, protects the cat from the young dog, leads the charge against wild vermin trespassing on the farm, and never misses a call for a treat. But considering he could be pushing 14 years old, I know that any day now we could have to make some similar calls. And that makes me very sad indeed.

  3. I was totally unprepared for this Jake story this morning now I’m bawling like a baby after all I am “the westielover” My last one is 15 I will Hug him a little tighter today whether he likes it or not and I’ll close like I always do Kiss Jake. >^..^< woof!

  4. Not an easy decision at any time, but we seem to have much better professional care for our animals than for our humans. I’ll keep the Mcspecs close to my heart in the days, weeks and months to come.

  5. Oh my oh my oh my! I don’t like to hear that any precious pet is suffering, and I don’t like to know that any of my friends are facing THE decision all animal lovers dread. I know you’re treasuring each day. ox

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