I have written about being a multiple dog parent and the pros and cons of having more than one furry family member. For us, the pros always far outweigh any cons but this year my husband and I managed to hit the trifecta with dog diagnoses.
In addition to teaching Best Buddies Dog Training classes where focus is on reading dog body language, facial expressions and mannerisms, I volunteer for a rescue and do pet therapy visits. I agree with the saying “In a perfect world every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog” and I’ve done my best to fill ours up with rescued dogs. Had I been better at staggering adoptions and ages, I might not have a home full of seniors right now. Doesn’t mean I love them any less, it just means that given their ages, we are dealing with age-related health issues.
In January, my ten-year-old Labrador Retriever/Corgi mix with was diagnosed with bladder stones. There were so many that my poor dog required surgery to remove the 40 or so stuck in her bladder and urinary tract. Snoop is also my pet therapy dog so this also meant we had to take a hiatus from visits for a couple of months.
In February, my ten-year-old Schnoodle was diagnosed with diabetes. We noticed our dogs seemed to be gaining weight but attributed it to my husband’s hip replacement and recovery, and inability to walk them daily. Another factor, we thought, might be the new higher quality dog food. Sophie seemed to be the heaviest and when she became incontinent, we knew something was seriously wrong.
The result of a series of vet visits and blood tests delivered the diabetes verdict. To keep it under control Sophie needs daily insulin shots following each meal. Finding the correct insulin dosage and caring for a dog (or family member for that matter) with diabetes can be a bit of a challenge. Sophie, one of my dogs that is scared of everything, who panics and flees the room if someone merely shifts position in their seat, has had to spend entire days at the vet’s office. Throughout the course of the day, vet techs test her blood to monitor her sugar and adjust the insulin dose. It’s difficult for me to leave any of my ‘kids’ for an entire day at the vet’s office but it really pulls at my heartstrings to leave Sophie. This morning when we arrived at the clinic, I had to carry her into the practice. She just does not understand that we are doing what is best for her and will ultimately make her feel much better.
This month we reached the third part of the trifecta. My husband and I took advantage of a beautiful warm, sunny day and took all five dogs to a state park to walk the trails. When we arrived at the park, our dogs, who had been housebound for weeks, were literally giddy with excitement! As everyone descended, I noticed my eight-year-old Golden Shepherd limping. We checked her foot, pads, leg, nothing so we proceeded up the trail. She stopped. We started again, she limped, stopped, limped again, stopped. A trip to the vet the next day gave us the news we feared… a second torn ACL which requires expensive surgery and 6-8 weeks downtime and rehab.
My point for sharing this is to tell you that I understand how difficult it is to make decisions for them.
We spend a fair amount of time ‘projecting’ our feelings onto them to ease our minds. We must rely on our dog’s body language, facial expression and mannerisms to gauge the way they feel. And expense? Holy cow… when you sign the papers to bring home a dog you had best believe it’s a serious lifelong commitment. In sickness and in health definitely applies to our canine companions!
I love my houseful of seniors. Most have been with me the majority of their lives and although they have cost a penny or two here or there, one cannot put a price on the love, affection and devotion they provide. Our canine companions bless us daily in so many ways.
A native of Massachusetts and a resident of Georgia where I have lived since 2008 with six rescue dogs, commonly referred to as my merry band of misfits, and one husband. I am the proud owner of Best Buddies Dog Training in Hoschton, GA. When not in the training studio, you'll find me in a nursing home, hospital or special needs class with my certified pet therapy dog or recruiting for my pet therapy organization, Happy Tails. I also spend a great deal of time researching the latest information on dog food, health and training techniques and volunteering with local rescues. I have written stories to contribute to Titan's Tales and Other Dog Adoption Love Stories and In Dogs We Trust.