Sunday, January 16, 2011

No easy weekend watch as dog grows more ill

Winter's winds blow cold and unforgiving.

They have no charitable feelings nor remorse. Always taking and never giving, these pangs do their best to rob us of our most prized possession; our best and most cherished memories. On that score, at least and fortunately, the cold winds of winter fail. And do so miserably.

Even so, the memories come at a price and for many people the cost is too high. I can understand that thought process just as I have chosen to steel my mind from it as best as possible.

As I sit here in my recliner I am watching my very aged, very much ill Jenny Lynn struggle with her own worst winter winds. I knew she has been growing more feeble and dying.

Almost certainly Jenny Lynn probably would not last until late spring when the grass is warms her sun-soaked coat and the birds return for her to watch.
But I have delayed as long as possible the inevitable, though I have long since vowed I would not be selfish and put my interests above her pain level.

A glimmer of hope came Saturday when I asked a favor of Jenny Lynn's veterinarian, Debbie Ting of Lakeshore Animal Hospital, located just around the corner from our home in Mentor-on-the-Lake.

I had left a message for Debbie and she responded by saying she would meet me, my wife Bev and Jenny Lynn.

"I'll see you in 10 minutes," she said.

We were there in five. Bev and I were prepared to have Debbie give Jenny Lynn the lasting peace from the grim pain of her own winter winds.
Ting inspected Jenn Lynn and said the 12-year-old Labrador had suffered what veterinarians call a "stroke," saying that the word is the best analogy in layman's terms they can give to a pet owner.

Then something unexpected happened. Debbie said a dog may actually recover on its own from such a physical storm though likely with slight limitations.

Asked what were the odds of such a recovery, Debbie said "About 80 percent."

When questioned about the pain level and fearful that Jenny Lynn would be tormented by it, Debbie reassured Bev and me that no veterinarian would allow a pet to suffer.

However, we needed to work with Jenny Lynn during this time. We'd have to put up with possible indoor urination or defecation until the healing is done. And we'd need to hand feed her and place a bowl of water on her head's still-strong side.

Then too, to take her outdoors or to get her to remain upright without falling we'd need to place a blanket, robe or similar piece of cloth under her as a sling.

On all these matter Bev and I were - ARE - willing to accept.

The critical period, Debbie also said, was the first 24 to 48 hours, though more full recovery may very will take days or possibly a few weeks.

It is a race against the clock, as all life is when you stop and consider the road ahead in any living thing's existence.

As I write this Jenny Lynn is resting comfortably, curled up in her favorite bed designed especially for older dogs with joint problems.

Yet I remain concerned enough to experience the arrival of stress-induced muscle pains and a headache that claims the high ground.

Sleep's been difficult, as well. Both Bev and I "rested" during the night, reposing in our respective recliners that oversee Jenny and her bed. We demanded of ourselves to be on watch.

I do not know at this point how the matter will resolve itself, though I am concerned. A short but required business trip will demand its coinage tomorrow.

No doubt I feel a great deal of guilt and anger with myself if I am not the one to see this thing through to its ultimate trail head.

Life, of course, is not always fair and seldom accommodates our most treasured desires.

Still, the winds of winter cannot rip away the fondest of my memories; thoughts of training Jenny Lynn, the sight of her finishing a puppy hunters' trial and the reward aluminum band that I still carry on the dog whistle lanyard, our field trips together that included everything hunting up South Dakota duck and pheasants to Ohio squirrels and fall wild turkeys, the time when as a puppy Jenny Lynn chewed the leg of a wooden rocker hand-built 100 years earlier by a friend's ancestor.

Nor of the way she greeted me each morning, laying on a throw rug in front of the closed bedroom door - just waiting for the reassuring scratch behind her ear and the familiar head-to-head snuggle.

Some day I will miss these things. They will come soon enough, I am afraid. But I hope not today.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


  1. I just went through a similar situation about a year ago. It's never easy to see a dog get old and move on.

  2. We too also have a very old dog before and it is so hard having a too old dog..