Le Moo likes to hang out in our partially unfinished basement. We don’t know why…if it’s the cold concrete floors, the darkness, or the general idea that she gets to sleep uninterrupted down there. We have a baby gate on our steps that we try to keep closed when we’re not down there, otherwise she goes downstairs and refuses to come back up unless there’s food involved. Unfortunately, sometimes Hub goes downstairs for something (it’s sort of his man-cave) and Le Moo follows. Then when we finally get her back upstairs, if Hub forgets to close the baby gate (it’s set up down half a flight of stairs around a corner out of sight) then Le Moo will just kind of disappear and we’ll have to go searching for her.
So she was down in her lair this morning and it was time for their lunch, so I’m yelling and yelling for her–sometimes she’s a hard sleeper–while I’m putting together their food. I turn around and I see her in the hallway at the top of the stairs and I’m like “you lazy cow”… and then I realize she’s limping. And my heart sinks.
We adopted Le Moo in the fall of 2011, and from what I remember, she was about 3 1/2 years old at the time. We’re at about 4 1/2 years from that time, so she’s about eight years old. She’s 95lbs (ish…we’re working on getting some weight off of her, even though we’ve never been able to accomplish that in the last 4+ years), and we think she’s a large breed dog. Large breed dogs have shorter life spans than their smaller counterparts. Le Moo is the twilight of her life. She’s had these limps on and off through her entire time with us, and our vet has never found anything. Despite Le Moo’s stature, she can haul ass when she wants to, and she’s prone to po-go’ing when she sees a bird or some other critter she wants to chase outside the fence. We’ve never gotten the po-go’ing on camera, but it’s pretty amazing the amount of air that she can get when in flight. Most of the time, the limp resolves, probably because she strained something when running or jumping. It’s wholly possible this limp, too, will resolve. I sat on the floor and checked her feet, paws, toes, leg, elbow, etc. She didn’t show any distress and I found nothing.
After the initial alarm, I’ve left her to rest on her own. Now I’ve been interrupted by the request to go outside. I took the opportunity during Le Moo’s snooze on the deck to inspect her paw and I have found a sore. I thought there was something on her pad and I pulled it off but it felt like…a sticker (as in a piece of paper with glue on it). But now there’s a sore left behind, which explains the limping. I’ve contacted the vet to see if we need to do anything other than keep it clean, but there’s not much we can do with a foot, you know?
Anyway, after the initial alarm and the back and forth with Hub about what was going on, I told him If there was any reason for me not to get another dog in the future, it’s the worry and anxiety I get over them. It’s so hard to be worried all the time. He said he understood, but that they give us so much back, it’s worth it. I said, Some days it feels too hard. Some days it does. Le Moo is in her golden years. I can’t even fathom the idea of losing her, especially after losing SP. Butthead has been throwing up on and off, not to mention her ACL replacement and ensuing second surgery AND ensuing limping issues. I go to sleep every night and wake up every morning wondering if Butthead has gotten sick. We don’t know why she’s throwing up, and it’s sporadic and hard to figure out. We’ve put her on digestive enzymes in case it is acid reflux or tummy issues, and we have pepcid on hand at our vet’s recommendation if the enzymes don’t work. But it’s more worry for me. More anxiety. These I need like a hole in the head.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs. I love my dogs more than I love most of the people in my life. I can’t imagine my life without them. I couldn’t imagine life without SP or life without my parents’ dogs over the years (their current, Cray-cray Lab, is limping and we don’t know why…sigh). But the stress over caring for them and worrying for them is tough. How do I balance it? How do I manage it?
How do I handle the ache that keeps settling into me knowing that Le Moo is aging…and that one day she’ll be gone? How do I not sit in this chair and cry?