Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life With a Old, Old Dog

Emma is 14 1/2 years old, and she is is incredibly good condition for her advanced age.  Even so, we are reminded that time with a dog this old is never to be taken for granted.

On Sunday evening, Emma was feeling great.  After her dinner, which she ate heartily, she went outside with Daniel to do her 'business'.  When she was finished, she trotted up the deck stairs, and she bounced into the house ... undeniable evidence that she was having a good day.

Monday morning, Emma was obviously in pain.  She yelped whenever she shifted position on her bed.  At times, she just stood with her head hanging, panting with her mouth open, clearly distressed.  My veterinarian told me to bring her right over, and they would look at her between appointments.  Over the course of three hours, they poked and prodded her, x-rayed just about everywhere, and determined that she had somehow injured her neck.

I brought Emma home, high on pain killers and a muscle relaxant, and she slept for most of the afternoon.  At dinnertime, she refused to eat.  I had to coax her to eat some stinky canned food so I could give her her pills (which cannot be taken on an empty stomach).  The pills made her loopy and confused, so I slept on the couch in the family room to be near her.

This morning, she again refused to eat.  No food + No pills = PAIN, so I cooked chicken and rice ... which she ate, thank goodness.  Right now, she is sleeping and she hasn't yelped in a couple of hours.

We have an acupuncture appointment for Emma on Thursday.  This should make her much more comfortable, but the one-hour car ride to get there sometimes stresses her.  It's a balancing act.  Is the stress worth the relief that the acupuncture provides?  I'm going to give it a shot because I think it's what she needs right now.

Whenever greyhounds limp or are in such pain, especially older greyhounds, we always fear bone cancer (osteosarcoma).  X-rays confirm that we have none of this with Emma, thank Heaven. She has two calcified disks in her lumbar spine, which we already knew about, and everything else on her x-rays shows a dog who is in much better condition than her number of birthdays would indicate. 

As I sat on the floor of the exam room with Emma, not knowing what was causing her pain, feeling helpless, I kept pushing thoughts from my head.  Would THIS be the trip when we have to say goodbye?   It wasn't.  (audible sigh of relief)

Such is life with an old, old dog.  Every day is a gift.  I make an effort to cherish the good days, I work through the bad ones, and I am thankful that there are more good days than bad right now ... and I try to make every day the best day it can be.

(all of the photos in this post were taken as Emma and I sat on the floor waiting to see the vet.  She was pretty drugged.)


  1. My heart just aches for pets in pain. I decided not to get another pet after we lost our last one. I just don't think I can take the heartbreak again~ I am glad that Emma is going to be okay and I hope you can get her pain free for an extended period of time (without drugs). xo Diana

  2. Glad she ate something and is feeling a little better. Give her a hug for me please!


  3. I'm glad it was something that could be treated. She looks like a sweet dog. Your vet sounds wonderful.

  4. Poor Emma and poor you! I know when our pets starting getting older we are more aware that the time left is much shorter then the time past~ makes me sad but I just love on my Charlie Kitty every day! Hope the acupuncture helps Emma.

  5. Aw! Sweet Emma. I hope the trip to the chiropractor helps and she is feeling better soon.

    I'm so thankful Emma has more time left with her loving family!

  6. I JUST went thru this with my greyhound--it scared the bee-jeezus out of me! I, too, thought it was the big O. Thank goodness for a little tramadol and the vet. Seems he pulled a neck muscle--so hard to watch them yelp and feel helpless. I hope Emma feels lots better soon.

    Mary Ann

  7. One day at a time. Love her with all your heart. It's all we can do when they get old.


  8. Oh, I'm so sorry that Emma isn't feeling well and I hope she feels better quickly. It's so heartbreaking with animals in pain. I just want them to feel better and it makes me feel so helpless. Please give Emma a big rub from me.

  9. So soon after losing Amy, I'm sure glad this wasn't one of THOSE kind of posts. My heart couldn't take it.

    God bless you both! Hope she feels better soon.

  10. Hugs to you and Emma, enjoy this time together. She is still a beautiful girl.

  11. Oh, my....you know that I know where you are.
    You are so right....enjoy every day you have with her.
    Love her like every day is her last.

  12. Different dog, different circumstances, but I have travelled the same road too many times. Yet, I could not imagine a life without them, and I'm sure you are the same way.

  13. Sending hugs, good thoughts and prayers to Emma. Such a sweet face. I do hope she can be relieved of the pain and back to eating again.

    Take care of yourself, too. I know it's stressful and worrisome trying to do everything you can to make them comfortable and healthy.

  14. I hope the lovely Emma is feeling better soon. She is so lucky to have such a loving, caring owner! We lost our elderly lab a few months ago & although it was a time of great sadness we felt happy that he wasn't in pain any more.

  15. I am visiting from Savvy Southern and read your post about Emma. Yes, yes, yes...make the trip to the acupunturist.

    I have a 2 year old lab, Major, who suffered from bloat (right after receiving his final puppy rabies shot and being neutered) and had to have GDV surgery at 6 months. Bless the traditional vets, but all of Major's tests came back normal and they couldn't stop him from bloating, in fact, they suggested putting him down. I just couldn't make that call since he was such a happy pup. My homeopathic vet uses cold laser therapy and spinal adjustments every few months...18 months later...Major is WONDERFUL!

    We also have a 3 1/2 year old lab, Miller, who was diagnosed with prostatitis 4 weeks ago. Traditional antibiotics were helping, but poor Miller couldn't go to the bathroom...for 7 days! Before I could pay for the office visit at the homeopathic vet's office, Miller finally "went"...right on the lobby floor.

    I feel there is a place for both medicines, traditional and homeopathic. Now that you know Emma is cancer-free...you can reap the benefits of acupunture and other non-traditional treatments.

    I just thought I'd pass on our experiences...warm hugs and prayers to you and Emma as you tackle her back pain.

  16. I know the feeling, Connie. Ellie is 15-1/2. Every slip and stumble and odd sound makes me snap to a fearful attention. I'm so glad Emma got some relief - and you, too.

  17. Oh, wow. She's so pretty, and so obviously family - I know it's hard to know "when".

    I'll be praying for y'all.

    Heal quickly!!

  18. Emma is so pretty~ looks like a sweetie!!! So sorry to hear about her not feeling well~ pray that the acupuncture will help~

  19. Ah, poor Emma. I hope she is pain free and feeling better soon.

    I know what it is to love your pet. I miss my little girl so much.♥

  20. I've absolutely
    been there. Our
    Dane-Lab mix, Winnie,
    had the bone cancer
    that you feared. We
    lost her 10 years ago,
    but I still cry when
    I think of the end.
    It's something that you
    have to be willing to
    face if you are going
    to share your life with
    these amazing beings.
    Sending you and Emma
    prayers that she will be
    on the mend and still had
    a lot of days ahead of her!
    xx Suzanne

  21. There are those days when I love the fur children more han "people" I know. So, I know where you are right now with this. Like Snappy said, one day at a time. Emma has been a good girl all these years and really needs you now. These faithful companions ....lov'em. Debi

  22. Oh, Emma. I adore you!

    Over the years I have had to make the decision to euthanize so many wonderful friends. Many were *my equine charges* as I was their "nanny"! Many were mine...It never gets easier but I do believe it is one of the most humane and compassionate acts we are able to do for them-let them go so they do not have to suffer.

    I am very relieved to know Emma will be on the mend. Please keep us updated!
    xo, misha

  23. p.s. love that you made chick & rice for her..we are very alike, you and I.

  24. Oh my gosh, Connie - I was in tears by the end of this post. That poor little girl! :( There is nothing worse than seeing your furbaby in pain and not knowing what to do to help them. I will keep sweet Emma in my prayers,sweetie.

    xoxo laurie

  25. So happy that Emma is feeling better. It is a balancing act, I just brought our old guy into the vet because he's become quite wobbly. I suspected diabetes (which causes nerve damage and leg weakening) but he's fine. His kidneys are still iffy, and he has cataracts, but for 19 and a half, he's doing pretty good. Still, I hated to bring him to the vet (he used to be very feisty and the new vet was wary of the red dots on his chart) he didn't bite anyone this time, but did manage a loud HISS when they poked him. But today he can still jump on the bed to investigate new purchases which of course mean BAGS!!!!! I will continue to send prayers for Emma.


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