Monday, September 25, 2006

Old Dogs old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well.
- Bonnie Wilcox, Old Dogs, Old Friends

My dog Kate is now in her eleventh (correction- 12th)year. Her eyes are starting to dull with the beginning signs of cataracts. The fur around her muzzle is either fading in color or turning white. With each passing year the white has creeped farther and farther up her face and has now reached the area around her eyes. She has arthritis in her hips and her knees. When I run my hands over her I feel more bone and less muscle than when she was a puppy. Getting up off the ground when she is cold is more of a struggle these days and her gait is a little stiff when she walks. Being eleven means she is somewhere around 77 years-old in human years. My baby is geriatric.

One thing I know is her mind is as sharp as ever. She is still playful, sneaky when it comes to getting extra food, smarter than my other dog Duke, personable, charming when she wants to be, and stubborn. The stubborn part has become more a part of her personality as she has aged. I see this the most when we are on a walk. Before she was pretty easy going, You want to go that way? OK, let's go that way. Now she is like a tank that cannot be turned that quickly, Kate, this way. Kate, head down and pulling on leash, No, we are going this way.

Then there are the times she makes me laugh with her doggie ways. We had to switch her to a liquid pain medication for her arthritis since the one she was on before tore her stomach up. This medication is measured out in a small plastic syringe which we then have to squirt into her mouth. The first few times I did that she seemed to hate it. Whenever she saw me with the syringe in my hand she would get a Yikes! look on her face and quickly slink out of the room. I would have to follow her and then hold her muzzle while I eased the syringe inside her cheek and then slowly push the plunger. After it was over she would wag her tail and run back to the kitchen to wait for her breakfast.

After seeing Kate's reaction to this procedure my husband suggested that we put the medication in Kate's food instead of squirting it into her mouth. I agreed so that morning I put a dab of yogurt on top of her food and squirted her medication into that. Kate sniffed her food and then walked away. I called her back and she turned around, came back, sniffed her food, looked up at me, then walked away. I called her back one more time and she went through the same routine. She stood over by the refrigerator giving me the same look she does when she is waiting for a treat after her dinner. I looked at her a minute then picked up her syringe, filled it with water, dipped the end into the yogurt, walked over to her, squirted the water into her mouth and stood back. She wagged her tail, trotted over to her food dish, and started eating.

That's when I figured out what was going on. Kate liked the taste of the medicine (it has a very stinky smell), what she didn't like was the syringe in her mouth. The last time she had stomach problems she stopped eating and drinking. When we took her to the vet she was so dehydrated he put her on a saline drip. Then he told me to give her 40cc of water every hour for the next two days to help rehydrate her completely. The only way to get the water into her was by using a large syringe. Kate hates the syringe but loves the taste of the medicine. She has connected her very tasty medicine with the syringe. So, every morning she get a squirt of medicine right before her breakfast.

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