Last week I took Abby, our twelve and a half year old sweet yellow lab, to our vet. She was favoring her front left leg and was showing some swelling in the joint where the leg can bend. She had been seen by her vet ten days before and we were told to keep her quiet, no walking and to limit stairs and activity to see if that would resolve things… I was told to bring her back if no change.
So here we were she and I back at the vets. I love the staff there as they care for the animals so much and really know each and every client coming in the door.
Abby was seen by the vet and an xray was recommended to see what was up. There were various reasons older dogs can present with her symptoms and some that could shorten her life. Abby went off for her xray and was returned to me. All of a sudden there was an announcement from the receptionist – an older dog was being brought in with respiratory distress. All the staff were incredible lunging into action to assist the situation when the dog arrived carried in a blanket. I could tell things were grave by all of their faces and the speed at which things downplayed.
The room Abby and I waited in was dead quiet I started looking at posters on the wall for various diseases and prevention tips. A staff member came in and asked if I could wait longer to be seen. I said “No problem,” and that I could return tomorrow instead, but she said it won’t be too long.
As I sat there my mind wondered… how much time did I have left with Abby? I have had labs all my life and they did not live longer than 13 years. I felt myself choking up looking at her of course she not even realizing my thoughts wagged her tail and came to sit beside me. She is always nervous at the vet and shivers at times. She has had a couple of surgeries so has reason to be leary.
I remember our excitement as a young family driving to go and get her from the breeders with our two daughters and a friend they had brought along. Previously we had “chosen” her from her siblings as they were contained in a laundry basket. Her colouring was lighter and we liked her darker ears and personality. We were told she was “perfect” for us, and we agreed!
Fast forward our Abby has been such a blessing.She is a dignified older gal now that occasionally will show a flash of puppyhood by spinning around in circles after a shampoo or being flirty with a large Sheppard or Husky her personal faves at the dog off leash.
She is a creature of habit regarding feeding times being a typical lab!Abby will follow me around when 30 minutes close to her dinner time to make the point. If I am sitting down and getting up she is anticipating a food run. After having her breakfast and having gone to the bathroom all is calm and she returns to a favorite spot to sleep. Life’s simple pleasures 🙂
She is terrified of fireworks and takes cover in our basement usually under a table. Abby is also pretty scared of the vacuum cleaner and will not even lay near it despite being turned off.
She has kindly shared her personal space with the occasional boarding dog and her beloved family members too over the years. We do screen dogs prior to a first board and her opinion counts!Young bouncy pups are not tolerated by our senior so we respect that.
She has some adorable traits we find endearing. Abby has quite a few stuffed animals we call “lovies” or “babies.” She holds them between her front paws and gums the toy or uses it as a pillow. This started in her middle age!
A few years ago she looked at me as we were out on a walk after I had picked up her poop and tied the bag off. She was insistant about something. I figured out she wanted to carry the bag lol! I placed the handle part in her soft mouth as labs have and off we went she with tail in the air and VERY proud. This has cars slowing down in amazement and people wishing their dogs would do this too when they pass me in person. She has made many strangers smile!
She will run for the ball now three or so times, but at more of a trot. Afterwards she loves to sun even if indoors on a patch of sunny floor. She can communicate by many various sounds (to which I will dedicate another post).
I could see out the window from the waiting room the vet was looking at her xray pictures and she called in another person to see them. I felt helpless watching not knowing what I would hear. I was called to come and see the xrays and talk to the vet. I heard that the older dog passed away that was brought in and my heart sank for the family.
I crossed the hall and the vet explained it looked like arththritis and the joint was swollen as a result. Bone cancer can also present like this and only time will tell as it is too early on. She was given a prescription, and was told that after a week we should see a difference. It is a week later and my girl can walk much further and hardly limps so I am thrilled! We will enjoy every day with her knowing her age is not in her favour but we still have her to give us the joy she brings and savour the years and the memories along the way.
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