Almost a year has passed since my last post, and that is unfortunate. I intended to scale down from two posts a month to one, but never did I anticipate life events would have me stop altogether. 2020 was rife with personal tragedy, affecting both humans and animals in my life.
In October 2020 Moose was diagnosed with advanced kidney failure following a routine wellness exam that included a senior blood panel. I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was. After all, he was a month away from turning 18, with a degenerative heart condition. Still, his bloodwork earlier in the year was normal, but a few months later that would change. Moose’s kidney values were off the charts. He was given several weeks to several months left with us. Even when you are somewhat mentally prepared for the inevitable, bad news still comes as a surprise.
We’re approaching October 2021 and Moose’s condition is status quo. We’ve heard that some dogs can live up to a year with Moose’s diagnosis. We’ve had to make some household adjustments given his new health issue, and I’m guardedly optimistic that he may see 19 in November.
Now more than ever before, Moose needs to have access to water at all times. This means that the dogs are no longer crated during the day while we are at work. They still eat their meals in their crates as a matter of habit, but food aggression on Moose’s part is no longer an issue as they are both elderly. There is a water bowl in the family room, which has been there for years since their mobility started declining. Our family room is sunken, and we didn’t want them troubled going upstairs into the kitchen with its slippery linoleum for water, even though yoga mats now line the floor for traction.
As for food, we have switched Moose from his prescription stomach food to a prescription kidney food. His appetite remains healthy so getting him to eat it isn’t a problem. He’s also fine with taking heart and thyroid meds in just about anything.
The biggest concession now is allowing the dogs free roam of the family and dining rooms when we’re gone. This means old blankets cover the couch. Even though the pups wear their man pants, accidents still happen. The coffee table is away from the couch, and a blanket is on the floor in the empty space between the furniture. Old pillows lay against the coffee table, buffering fragile dogs in the event they fall from the couch. Moose and Red can get down from the couch for water, but once they are down, they are not able to climb back up. The blanket on the floor cushions any falls plus acts as a place to snuggle since jumping on the couch isn’t an option for them anymore.
Last Christmas we took what we assume will be Moose’s last photos with Santa. It remains to be seen if he will see Christmas 2021 or his 19th birthday in November. While I’m optimistic, I’m not delusional. They are both very old dogs. While I would like to see Moose reach these milestones, I will not let him suffer to do so. The vet told us what to watch for when our time together is nearing a close. Until then I will savor our remaining days together.