Monday, February 2, 2009

Gone to the dogs.

I just spent a long, sleepless night in the company of a 13 year old Border Collie with restless legs, paranoia, and steamy fish grotto breath. I think we're all lucky to have seen the sun rise this morning.

She's always been a little quirky but has recently taken a swift turn toward complete pain in the ass. I love her dearly but she's driving me crazy. (Something I now hear Liam saying all the time. "Puppy, no! You're driving me crazy!")

During the day she's restless, following me so closely I can feel her hot breath on the backs of my legs. She does this all day long. Bill calls her Dragon Claws because she drags her claws across the wood floors when she paces. I call her, well, I probably shouldn't repeat some of the things I call her.

Because she can't really hear anymore and her vision isn't quite what it used to be, her reaction time is really slow. If she's hot on my trail and I change directions, she stumbles and falls. If I, god forbid, turn around, she freezes in her tracks and I trip over her. I hit her with more doors and cabinets than I can count, not because I'm hateful but because I can't make a move without her getting in the way. She's always right there.

When Liam's asleep and I don't want Miss Clickity-Clack to wake him up, my only choice is to force her to lay down (a full time job in itself - she needs to be reminded to lay down! every 15-20 seconds) or put her in the backyard. I would love to leave her in the backyard for his entire nap but she barks so much it isn't an option.

At the first house Bill and I lived in together, our landlord threatened to kick us out because so many neighbors had complained about her incessant barking. At our second house, we got a police citation stuck to our front door instructing us to "curtail the barking." No one has complained about it here (God bless The South) but I'm not about to take that to mean it's OK to let her bark. It drives me crazy and she's my dog. Just imagine if I didn't love her.

In the past week or so she seems to have lost her grasp on reality. We'll find her standing in the corner of a room, just staring at the spot where the walls come together. Or in the middle of the day, for no reason at all, she'll squeeze all of her 65 pounds into the tiny space between the wall and the bathtub where she will inevitably get stuck and have to stay there whimpering until someone (not me) conjures enough strength to shove the freestanding porcelain tub a few inches to free her up.

At night when we're trying to sleep, it's the worst. She sleeps in our room so every time she decides to get up and pace the hardwoods, she wakes us up. Sometimes she wakes Liam up too (like last night) so we do everything we can to get her quiet and make her lay back down. This, of course, is next to impossible.

She usually ramps up the pacing about an hour before the alarm goes off but last night she got to it as soon as we fell asleep. By 1:00 she had already been off her bed more than she had been on it. I knew I couldn't handle a sleepless night so I begged Bill to let me give her the anti-anxiety medication her vet prescribed for thunderstorms and fireworks (back when she could hear those things). He likes to hold off as long as possible because the pills always make her drop little poops on the floor (there's no worse way to wake up in the morning than by stepping in poop on your bedroom floor) but agreed that last night was an exception.

So we decided to meet in the middle and give her half a pill. I will go ahead and tell you since it isn't noted anywhere on the anti-anxiety medication: a half a pill will not calm your dog down or help her sleep. In fact, it will do nothing except make her poop on the floor.

I'm taking her to the vet this afternoon to find out what is going on. I'm hoping he can give her a prescription or suggest something we can do to help her get comfortable. If not, we'll have to take a different approach and medicate ourselves. One way or another, we've gotta sleep tonight.


Neil Edwards said...

Enjoy your old dog. She has great wisdom for you to learn from.
She may be a pain, but you will remember her for it. Talk to her....
My dog George drove me crazy when he became old, I didn't really know what he really wanted for the last two months of his life. I had to help him up and help him out....
I miss him more than ever and I will gladly do it again. Gladly.

We all deserve respect and care in our later years.

Love and happiness to you!

Maggie Conran said...

oh, neil, you're so right! i hate that it took a vet visit for me to see that but am thankful i saw it before i could really have regrets. george was a wonderful dog. i will give cloey extra love and attention for him today. ;)
love you!