Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Old Man

Butch is sleeping. Finally. He had a hard night last night, waking me up and asking to go outside no fewer than four times between bedtime and dawn. Yes, it was a hard night for me, too.

His legs seem stiffer than usual today, but not as stiff as I've seen them on his worst days. I think the unusually warm temperatures we've had have given him some relief and that his arthritis has flared up because the weather has turned colder in the last day or two. He's been panting all morning, too. I just gave him some food, a small, extra meal he doesn't normally have at this time of the day, and that seems to have done the trick. He has passed out and is breathing quietly now.

The melanoma tumor I can see in the roof of his mouth continues to grow. He has begun to sneeze frequently and to blow air out through his nose as if he's trying to clear it. That makes me think the tumor is enlarging in the other direction, as well, into his sinus area, although he doesn't seem to have any difficulty breathing. (As I said above, I think the panting today was caused by arthritic pain, and he isn't panting while he sleeps.)

Butch's appetite is strong. He gets excited about suppertime and eats his puréed meals and soft treats enthusiastically. He's eating every bit as much as he did before we discovered the tumor. Last night, not long after I had fed him and Levi, I discovered Butch  standing next to the kitchen garbage can, the lid knocked off on the floor beside it. I'd put the carcass of a rotisserie chicken in there earlier. I think his arthritic joints are all that prevented him from standing up tall enough to reach that chicken. Since his time with us is short, I'd like to indulge him with as much food as he seems to want, but I know the extra weight would put strain on those already painful joints.

He is friendly, outgoing, and social, the way he was for most of his life until the dark, whiny  period that started near the end of 2010 and lasted all the way into this past summer. He still asks to go outside multiple times in a row in hopes of scoring a treat each time he comes back in (a reward I should never have started). Sometimes he doesn't even bother with the pretense,  just steps out, turns around, and scratches to come back in. And, sadly, sometimes he waits too long to ask to go outside and doesn't quite make it to the door.

His nap is already over. And he's panting again. I'll go now and offer him long strokes and scritches. He's had all the food and medicine he can have until tonight, and I can't think of anything else to do for him right now but show him I love him.

(First published at Velvet Sacks on February 8, 2012.)


Snowbrush said...

I had to go backwards to find out what happened. No doubt people have suffered from the same ailments, and similar suffering gives us a common feeling and an empathy with dogs that we might not otherwise have. It is also what makes many of us more compassionate as we grow older. For example, now I KNOW what arthritis feels like.

Linda@VS said...

Snowbrush, your comparison of a dog's ailments to people's reminded me of something. When Butch was five, he tore the ligaments in both of his knees and was facing surgery. I remember making a comment to the vet that I didn't want Butch to have to suffer. The vet said, "I hate it when people say things like that. People get aches and pains all the time, and they deal with it, and nobody suggests putting them down. Animals can deal with it, too." That helped to put things in perspective, and I always remembered it on cold days when Butch and I were both stiff and achy.

Snowbrush said...

I like that vet's attitude, but I actually wish they would "put people down" past a certain point. Of course, people have the option of putting themselves down if their suffering gets too bad, and animals do not.