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.

Shadow’s Exciting News, Part 3

It’s hard to believe, but this past Monday was the two-month anniversary of Shadow’s stem cell infusion.

(You can read Parts 1 and 2 here and here.)

Our vet said Shadow should be the “poster child” for the success of the clinical trials!

Despite some GI issues* that Shadow was dealing with for the last several weeks, she has really benefitted greatly from the treatment.

*Suffice it to say, too much people food, even given with love, is not good for any dog, but especially those with sensitive stomachs.*

Anyway, the stem cells have helped with Shadow’s mobility, her confidence level, her emotional health; and in general, improved her overall Quality of Life.

She’s a sensitive “pup” – always has been – and I doubt that will ever change; but she seems to be handling stress a little better.

Her arthritis seems to be less bothersome, in varying degrees. In areas where it only bothered her on rare occasions it seems to be in remission. And in areas where it was most bothersome it seems just a tad bothersome at times.

Now my job is to continue monitoring Shadow for subtle changes in her activity – good or bad – and let the vet know about them. Since I have his mobile number, that last part will be easy.

Hubby and I have been really impressed – not to mention happy – with the way the stem cells have helped Shadow. As I said above, her overall quality of life has improved considerably. She seems to have a new outlook on life.

Today is three years since we said goodbye to Callie. It’s a sad memory; but sweet Callie is always with us in spirit, watching over all of us. I know Shadow misses her sister and best friend – so do hubby, Ducky and I – but she plays more now and doesn’t seem depressed so often. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Callie’s Here

Have you seen the movie, “A Dog’s Purpose”? Just in case you haven’t, I won’t tell you how it ends. I can tell you I used a bunch of tissues. ­čśó

And I will tell you that at the end of the movie, when the dog starts barking at his owner, Shadow went from laying on her side to sitting up and watching intently. ­čÉÂ

When Callie and Shadow were youngsters, Callie would always sit in front of the TV – watching intently – if there were dogs or other animals on any program we were watching. And sometimes if the dogs on the TV were acting out, Callie would bark at them as if she were trying to tell them to relax. Meanwhile, Shadow would just chill out, wondering what all the fuss was about. As I went to pick up the phone to take a picture, Shadow turned away from the TV. Just as she always did when she was young. For a minute or two it had been as though Callie was sitting there. Hubby and I looked at each other and then at Shadow. She had the same “What?!” look on her face. But I still feel Callie’s presence in the house.

A Heartbreaking Anniversary 


Today – this morning actually – is the first anniversary of our precious Callie getting her angel wings.

I’m handling it better than I expected to. Yes, it hurts like hell. Yes, I miss my girl more every day. 

But – a BIG but – she’s not suffering any more. She’s a healthy, happy soul again free of her earthly form. I’m happy for my girl. 

I’m happy to have been her mom. Happy for all the wonderful memories she gave us. Happy that she helped me raise her and her younger sisters. 

Life has not been the same, will never be the same, without our beautiful girl. But we’ve adapted, adjusted, and done our best to move forward. 

I watch Shadow during the day. She prefers to sleep in Callie’s old favorite spots – in front of the bathtub, on the one dog bed of Callie’s that wasn’t ruined during her illness, on the kitchen floor next to my chair, and right outside the bathroom door while I’m taking a shower. And she loves to play fetch and keep-away, just as Callie did. Odd that she won’t play with Callie’s stuffed toys though. I know Callie wouldn’t mind – she was always good about sharing all the toys. 

And Ducky? In her own way I’m sure she misses Callie; but she’s been playing more with Shadow. And giving Shadow good-morning kisses when I first let her out of her crate. And she’s not snarking at Shadow as much any more. I think she has figured out that Shadow is truly her best doggie friend as well as her big sister. I’m pretty sure Callie is smiling down at them both. 

I still need to dab at my leaky eyes with a tissue at times. The realization that I can’t stroke her fur or kiss her good night, watch her snuggle with Shadow, or watch her teach Ducky to mind her manners still feels like a dagger in my heart. Yet the memories of such moments make me smile, with or without tears.

Hubby said last night that “she left us too soon”. I said that “even if she had lived to be 15 and a half, like Kissy, it would have been too soon.” But she hasn’t really left us. Her earthly form is gone, but her spirit is always here with us. She watches over us. And occasionally she lets me catch a glimpse of her spirit. Somehow she lets Shadow know, too, that she is still here. I sense it at times.