Shadow’s Golden Years

These last several weeks I’ve been watching Shadow closely. At times she seemed in great shape – playing with Ducky, chasing her favorite ball, almost running up the three steps to the main part of the house – and other times she stumbles or misjudges her footing on the steps. Those tough times have really been breaking my heart these last few weeks.

Ten days ago she stopped eating her food. And this is food she has loved from day one. She was taking her pills – wrapped in pieces of pill pocket – and treats. She especially loves the treats I bought from Jan at Wag-n-Woof Pets. And on Wednesday of the week before last, when she was so hesitant to go down the steps to the back door, I immediately called the vet and made an appointment. Meanwhile, with hubby’s help, I got her outside and walking around. She did well.

On Friday morning, we went to see the vet. After a hands-on body exam, the vet said that my poor girl had somehow pulled the groin muscle in her right rear leg. And sure enough even I could feel how tight it was. It will take 10-14 days to heal. And her appetite should follow suit. We decided to treat her with muscle relaxants. On Day Five I was only starting to see slight improvement. She slept most of the day. And she balked at going down the steps to the back door.

Saturday last week was hubby’s birthday and we had the pet sitter take care of the dogs so we could go up to Charlotte (NC) to spend the day with his son and his family. I felt a little guilty leaving Shadow; but I knew Susan loves my girls and would take good care of both of them, so I didn’t worry too much. On Sunday afternoon, I pulled out the Carelift lifting harness I had bought for Shadow a couple of years ago. (I got the idea from our friends, Joy and her Emma at My GBGV Life when their Katie was a senior and needed assistance on her walks.)

This past Wednesday was Shadow’s biannual senior exam. The muscle relaxant was already doing its job on the groin muscle; but it was also suppressing Shadow’s appetite and making her seem almost lethargic at times. Getting her up on her feet and outside for bathroom breaks – even with hubby’s help – was difficult at best. Anyway, her labs came back pretty close to normal. Once she’s been off the muscle relaxant and the week’s worth of NSAIDs to help strengthen her joints for two weeks, we’ll do the labs again to make sure everything is back on track.

It’s now Day Nine of the muscle relaxants and Day Three of the Meloxicam for her joints, and I’m finally seeing promising improvements in Shadow’s overall mobility. Her appetite is still mostly suppressed, but after a few days of not even wanting treats, she’s back to taking them from me again. It’s not great, but it’s a start that makes this dog mom feel better.

Knowing my sweet girl’s age is catching up with her breaks my heart. She’s had some tough times in the three and a half years since her older sister – and best friend – got her angel wings; but Callie has stayed with her in spirit and helped me get her through it all. This past week in particular I was beginning to wonder if Callie was trying to tell me Shadow’s time to join her was coming soon. I know it will eventually; but I don’t think Shadow’s ready quite yet. Her eyes are still bright, and she’s back to fighting for her independence. I know she misses Callie, but Ducky’s been keeping her company and mostly been a sweet little sister. Especially this past week.

My (Crazy) Golden Life

We’re still here. A little tattered after a busy summer and fall, but here.

Ducky is still her crazy, sometimes hyper, drama-queen, lovable self. Trying to work with her in between hubby’s various doctor appointments and my own school work wore. me. out. I’m not as young as I used to be. ๐Ÿ™„

Then, there’s poor Shadow. Oh, don’t worry…she’s still healthy and happy.

But her digestive issues have been concerning me the last several weeks. To start with, the company that makes her food went to an “improved formula”. (Improved my butt!) And that so-called improved formula has been giving her some “silent-but-deadly” gas, especially at night. So she was refusing to eat her full meals. Add to that her refusal to stand on floor mats while she eats, despite her arthritis, and the Denamarin for her liver function. And her depth-perception vision issues. I discussed all this with our vet on Tuesday morning while we were there for an unrelated matter. He suggested waiting until after she eats breakfast to give her the Denamarin. It works best on an empty stomach, but still works on a somewhat full one as well.

So, I tried waiting and it made no difference. And I tried using a different food bowl. And I tried spoon-feeding her. Nothing made any difference.

Until yesterday. I was feeling totally at a loss, totally frustrated. Shadow’s IBS makes it inadvisable to change her food, even gradually, so that’s out. I ordered some probiotic chews. Hopefully they will help with the flatulence.

Meanwhile, I was on FB Messenger with my friend, Jan. You know her as “the Momz” over on Wag-n-Woof Pets. I needed a different perspective on my problem. Jan mentioned that she uses a plate, rather than a bowl, for beagle Cricket’s food. It was close to time for Shadow’s lunch, so I pulled one of our dinner plates out of the cabinet and used it instead of her bowl to feed her.

Voilรก! One problem seemingly fixed. Now to dismiss the notion that she should only eat twice (or thrice) a day. So, since I’d already split her breakfast into two meals, why not her dinner as well? No noticeable flatulence last night. We’ll see how it goes tonight.

That’s what my life has been like these last few months. Crazy, sometimes exhausting, puzzling, but much better and preferable than the alternative. The girls, the hubby, and I will get through it.

Happy Howlidays to ALL our friends and family. โค๏ธ๐ŸŽ„โ„๏ธโ˜ƒ๏ธ

So The Vet Said…

About ten days ago I shared with you that I was concerned about Shadow’s odd meal-time behaviors in my post, Senior Eye Exam Scheduled

I wish I could have gotten a better video to show her odd behavior, but it just didn’t work out. 


As I told the vet, any time she senses that she’s being watched, Shadow stops eating. Period. But that being said….

When I finished telling the vet my slightly abbreviated version, the vet checked everything. Shadow’s eyes, her teeth, her spleen/abdomen area, and his records on her past visits. Her teeth are all good – which I expected him to say – except for a little tartar on one of her premolars. She does not have cataracts. She has a little bit of sclerosis (hardening) of the lens of both eyes; but it’s so slight that it is not a concern, nor is it painful.

I raised the concern that she’s not eating enough to stay healthy. The vet knows me well enough to know how hypersensitive I am to Shadow’s issues after Callie’s illness last year. I told him that on days when she eats her full meals she gets between 800 and 1,000 calories…

“For a dog her size, her age, and her activity level, she’s getting enough calories on average.” She had lost very little weight since January – maybe 4 ounces, if even that – so we’ll just do monthly weight checks and see if there’s any need for concern.

“In short,” the vet said, “Shadow is playing with your head. She knows your emotions well. So, what I suggest is some ‘tough love’ at meal time. Continue with the same food; and when she walks away from it, pick up the bowl and put away whatever’s left until the next meal. Eventually she’ll figure out that if she’s hungry, she’s going to have to eat her whole meal first time around. She’s not going to starve. If she starts losing weight too quickly, we’ll run tests again; but I don’t believe she will. There’s nothing in her chart to worry me right now.”

And with all that out of the way, we had to do an X-ray on her left foot. Since Wednesday afternoon, she’d been alternating between favoring the foot slightly and really limping noticeably. I’d been using ice packs on it and giving her some Tramadol; but it didn’t help. Turns out that in one of her jaunts around the yard – chasing the ball – she stumbled and sprained the second joint of the left toe on her left, front foot. (We did the X-ray to rule out any tumors.) So, she’s on rest, Tramadol, and generic Carprofen for the week. We go back for a re-check on Friday. She was already walking better by Friday night, so the Carprofen must be working. ๐Ÿ™‚