Saturday, 21 July 2012

Old dog, new dog


I hate to admit this, being the dog lover I am, but I've never had a dog that lived to be 12 before this year.

On the farm, we had only four dogs I can remember: Penny, the golden who was hit by an asshole neighbor when I was six; Timmy who was put down because he had a pathological love of eating facecloths; Susie, an outdoor dog, who was put down for chasing chickens; and Cindy, the poodle who went to live with my Auntie Margaret after we sold the farm.

In my adult life, I've had many dogs, some died tragically, one was put down, a couple were given away. The most recent batch seemed to live longer. Ming was 12 when she died of respiratory issues and Hannah was nine and died of cancer. Now we have Gordie who is approaching his 12th birthday and seems to be going strong except for having lost half his teeth combined with bad legs.  We also have Finnigan who just turned five months.

It's odd having the old guy around as he sharply contrasts the young pup in everyway. Finnie is teething and is a good boy only when he's sleeping or fishing kernels of kibble out of his bright orange ball. Gordie spends most of his days prone on the pillow, except for the many times of day -- like exactly right now -- when he's fighting off a Finn attack from the rear. I feel very sad for Gord most of the time, but he can hold his own outside, where he can turn on Finn and take a chunk out of him when he really, really gets pissed.

I love Gordie to death, and I can't bear the thought that we might one day soon lose him, too. I try not to think about that; losing two dogs in the space of two months this winter was almost unbearable and losing Gordie would be devastating. He looked like he was a goner shortly after dental surgery to take out half his teeth. It took months for him to bounce back, and fortunately, he seems pretty good these days.

Except for two issues.

First, he has developed a case of sleep apnea. About every hour or so during the night, I hear his breathing turn jagged as he sputters out a few snores, then tries to catch his breath. This is not good in a pug; I spent five years listening to poor Ming fight to breathe and I'm hoping Gordie isn't going in that general direction. So I wake up with him and shake him a little until he calms down. I wish I could find one of those breathing machines they have for humans, or maybe a puffer but I think he'd bite me if I tried anything like that on him.

The other disturbing behavior is stress pooping. Everytime my granddaughter is in sight, Gord barks frantically then empties his bowels in a clandestine manner, and by clandestine, I mean behind the feet of the unsuspecting customer who steps in it. Once, during a fight with Finnigan, he pooped right behind the very chair in which I'm sitting and I rolled right into it.

Yesterday, I went downstairs and left Finn and Gordie alone in the living room. When I returned, I caught Finn licking the chair in a somewhat guilty manner. He was, obviously, hiding the evidence. Gordie had pooped all up the back of the Lazy Boy recliner. Thank God for leather.

Like his incessant barking, it's just one more Gordie Blackstone behavior I have to put up with. Thank Goodness, his arthritis is so bad he can no longer lift his leg and pee everywhere.

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