Friday, March 18, 2011

Need Some Old Dog Advice

Meet PJ, our elderly dachshund.  Here she is doing what she does best -- napping, preferably in a sun spot or in front of a heater vent.

She is 14 and a half, and will be 15 in June, which is getting way up there for a teeny little doggie.  So we've reached the stage with her where things get a little creaky and start to fall apart, but for the most part she's still pretty alert and loving when she's awake (which is not so often -- beyond mealtime, I think she may be awake maybe half an hour a day max.)

We're having the carpet cleaned today because it is absolutely fouled by her inability to control her bladder.  And that's where the request for help and advice comes in this morning.

After it gets cleaned, I'd like to try and keep it that way for the most part.  We have one of those home carpet steamers, which we plan on trying to use as often as possible when we find the accidents.  But the thing is, we don't seem to find them all immediately.

In moving things around to clear every corner, nook and cranny for the cleaners, I found several accidents that I hadn't even known existed.  Ugh.

Worse, this morning as I've been picking up chew toys and last minute bits and pieces, I found two more wet spots that she's made just in the couple of hours we've been up and she's been out of her kennel.

I'm at my wit's end.

Am thinking about a sort of indoor pen, inside of which I'd put down those pee pads that we could change out regularly but that would provide some measure of protection for the carpet.  Over those, I'd put a blanket so she could be comfy -- she loves sleeping in a blanket.  But I'm not certain it would work.  Has anyone done this with an elderly dog?

The thing is, she wigs out in her kennel these days.  Being separated from me is a no go for her, it makes her really nervous, and my goal is to keep things comfortable while minimizing our carpet damage as much as I can.

I'm really at a loss.  We are going to see the vet next week to see if there are medical reasons and tweaks we can help her with (e.g. if this is a diabetes complication, etc.), but I'm hoping to figure something out that we can all be happy with while not allowing the house to get this icky again.

It sucks when your baby gets old -- and she was our baby through all of the infertility hell, so I owe her really good care for all the support she gave me when I needed it most.  Trying to figure out the best way to do that, though, is really, really tough.

Any thoughts, advice, suggestions?  I'd love them.

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith.)


Anonymous said...

Ahh-- I've been through this process recently -- recognizing the true condition of my pet and then learning what those facts mean. We had a 15 year old shih tze and 16 year old cat that were no longer able to enjoy life much or nearly as much I enjoyed my love for them.

Unfortunately, if you read about the timing and decision to end a pet's life, given some time, you may realize that is in your beloved pet's best interest.

It was a very hard decision for me -- the dog began to have accidents just like yours -- although she did somehow limit herself to the tile floor near her pet door. She was almost blind, totally deaf, slept so deeply that you could drop something next to her and she wouldn't wake up. Her joints were stiff, she was also confused at times. But, even though she had all these symptoms of advancing age and poor health, when she was awake, if I'd carry her down the back steps and leave her in the sunshine, she'd explore her backyard eventually scampering up the steps and run quickly through the house to her place in my niece's room. During these brief times each day, she seemed like her old self -- but a hour a day out of 24 hours isn't much quality of life.

It's very difficult for each family member to prepare themselves for what is sure to come and may be overdue.

Best of luck navigating this stage of life with a pet, a member of your family.


Christy Hardin Smith said...

PJ is the same way about sleep -- she doesn't hear you at all when she is out, and you have to physically shake her to wake her up to go outside or to bed. She also gets lost out in the yard sometimes -- she goes out for a pee, goes a little further in the yard afterward like she has more business to do and then forgets what she is doing and just stands there until I tug on the leash to sort of show her the way back to where I am. You can see this look on her face like, "Oh! That's where mom is!" And then she'll toddle back to the sidewalk toward me, not very steady on her feet but still pretty happy to get to where I am.

At the moment, we have her penned in behind a chair, with a blanket on top of some pee pads. And she is utterly and completely miserable, as emotionally freaked out as if we put her in her kennel, which really makes her miserable these days. I wish I had a good answer on this, but I'm so torn because she has good, frisky moments occasionally, too. Am going to make a vet appointment for this week and get their opinion on whether anything can be done to help the incontinence -- and to make sure it isn't an indication of something even worse for her health-wise.

Anonymous said...

Good for you for making the appointment for discovery. I was lucky to get a kind dr. who explained my options with both pets. I wrestled with it --- but became comfortable with the decision to say good-bye after the process was explained to me.

It's such an individual decision and it does take time for everyone to come to grips with reality. At first, I was numb to the loss, but now am beginning to remember the good times. I will always love them and my pets who lived before these last two.


Anonymous said...

We had our lab mix put down this vet did x rays and there were several large masses indicating cancer. He had a few accidents and his legs seemed so wobbly. It came to the point where I was comfortable with the decision. It sounds like you have started this journey. In the meantime you might want to try these.

I use the belly bands for males when we visit until I'm sure they aren't going to mark.