It is hard to believe Sam has been with me a month already, and his folks will be home day after tomorrow.
Any time one looks after a seventeen year old dog - and a large dog at that (the larger the dog, the shorter the lifespan, usually), one hopes he will survive the stay.
Sam has being doing just fine, other than an initial adjustment on my part when I was likely walking him a bit too much and he just needed to rest his weary bones for a couple of days. We modified his walks to leisurely strolls on the beach, and he has been trucking along. Yesterday, we spent an hour watching the herons and gulls and cats, as the sun and the wind caressed our skin/fur. It was a great outing, with little walking but lots of mental stimulation.
I tawt I taw a puddy tat!
And then last night, Sam couldn't settle. He paced back and forth, wanted outside frequently, and paced some more. Eventually, about one in the morning, he lay down on the floor in my bedroom, his usually sleeping spot, and drifted off. And so did I.
I awoke at 5 AM and discovered Sam was no longer there. Stumbling out to the living room, tripping over Sadie who was inconveniently blocking the hall, I discovered Sam lying by the front door. Something was off. He didn't look like he was comfortably positioned, he had pee'd on the carpet, and while his eyes were alert and followed my every move, he made no attempt to move his body.
A couple of hours later, he still had not moved. I attached his leash and tried to coax him to rise so he could go outside for a pee. He struggled up, stumbled a few paces down the hall, and toppled over - kerplop - onto his side. And there he stayed. Looking at me. Unmoving. I checked his temperature, his respiration, his heart rate and all were normal, though his gums seemed rather pale. An internal bleed? A disc problem? A stroke?
My friend Liz came over, and together we dragged the hall carpet, with Sam on it, up onto his comfy sleeping pad which I placed in the mudroom - the most washable floor, and the handiest to the door should Sam wish to go outside, but with his pad to keep him comfortable. And I phoned my wonderful mobile vet.
Sam continued to lie flat on his side, not even lifting his head, but welcomed offerings of ice cubes and syringes of water. The vet arrived, and spent well over an hour with us. She confirmed all his vitals were normal, the colour had returned a bit to his gums a bit, and he accepted a cookie and then some liver treats from her. But he was clearly uncomfortable - not his hips, or his spine, but his abdomen. Possibly a mass. Maybe a tumour. Could be a lot of gas. Or perhaps a bleed. Or maybe he just had a tummy ache. Only an ultrasound would tell, and there is no clinic with an ultrasound nearby. And if it did show something, is surgery really an option for a seventeen year old dog? We decided to manage the pain, keep him comfortable, and see how he was in the morning.
I had given him some Tramadol shortly before the vet's arrival (on her advice), and it began to work - we were able to get him outside, the vet holding a towel under his back end for support and me guiding the front end, so he could go pee. The vet gave him injections for pain, for potential infections and for acid reflux - the one for pain was potent and within minutes he was nodding off to sleep on his mat, which was back in my bedroom.
The vet left instructions and medicines for morning, and we talked about our options should he deteriorate further. I've been emailing back and forth with his folks, who today greeted the birth of their granddaughter ( who was long overdue!) and who tomorrow will begin the trek home from England. They will be here Thursday night. They trust me to make whatever decisions must be made for Sam, and we agree that he mustn't suffer.
I am hoping Sam will be here to greet them. I am hoping his tail will be wagging and he will be barking and laughing and telling them "It's about time!". I am hoping.
Please hope with me.