If you had asked me a little over two years ago, I would have said that Bridgett was fast on her way out. Tim and I talked it over and as having a “backup dog” was very important to me (much less sad than getting a “replacement dog”) we went ahead and got Corwin. On September 27th, 2008, as Flickr tells me. Our bet, due to a large tumor that Bridgett had on her rump and how not fast she was moving, was that she maybe had about six months. That would give her enough time to help train the backup dog, just as Heidi helped to train Bridgett when she was young and a backup dog. (Heidi was a backup dog for BJ, who was a backup dog for Jackie, who was an Original Dog in about… 1983 or so. We’d had other dogs before Jackie, but not in a number of years. For those who are trying to do the math in their heads, counting Corwin that’s five dogs in 28 years. There was much overlap; it’s not like a dog died every 5.6 years!)
Clearly I don’t want to talk about Bridgett being sick.
One of the reasons we wanted a backup dog, a reason we thought it might be soon, is that a couple of times Bridgett just… she would get up from a nap and not be able to walk very well. Clearly in pain and hunched over, she would limp around. It would take her almost two minutes to stand up. It would take her more than five minutes to walk across the house from my office to the bedroom, and she’d have to stop five or six times in order to do it. She wouldn’t sit down – she’d just… stop. Hunched. Maybe a little grunt or a small whine. And the giant cracking sound of my heart shattering into a thousand pieces.
Slowly over the next 24 hours or so she’d move faster, hunch less, look less in pain.
And then it would pass. She’d be fine.
I mentioned this to my vet, and he thought it might be arthritis and that she’d just stiffened up while napping – which she does for hours upon hours. He said to start her on an aspirin a day and to call him any time if she was having one of those spells because he really wanted to see her walk.
Well, she had a spell on Thursday, and I was pretty sure that he didn’t work on Fridays but I called him anyway. At almost 5, because unfortunately that’s when she woke up from her nap, and even more unfortunately I needed to get to the post office and to Wild Iris for spinning. This time it seemed even worse, though, so I was worried. Not worried that I was going to have to make The Decision. The Decision is both easy and hard, and I’ve already made it. Animals can’t tell you, you know? They can’t tell you when they’ve had enough. All they can do is love you and trust that you, the pack leader, will make the best decision for them. When Heidi was diagnosed with cancer, and they said they could prolong her life by about six months with an operation *but* she wouldn’t be able to walk any more, I had her put to sleep right then. That’s no life for a dog; not for a 16-year old 60-lb dog. If she was young, and small enough that I could carry her (or if I could get her one of these) then hell yes I would have prolonged her life; but she hadn’t moved, hadn’t eaten, hadn’t had any water in days and was clearly in pain. I’m not so self-centered that I’d keep a dog around for me if it’s that hard for them. And I would make the same decision for Bridgett in a heartbeat. EXCEPT. She gets better within hours. Sometimes I think she’s just fucking with my heart.
Dr. Camp called me while I was at Wild Iris, and I rushed home to meet him and we could see what needed to be done. Every time Bridgett has one of these spells, I think this is it, this is the time. And this time she looked so pained, so hurt, so pathetic… I just… well. Anyway. Only when I got home, Dr. Camp wasn’t there yet, but Tim had come home and let both dogs out in the back yard and didn’t think that Bridgett was moving any slower than normal.
When the vet got there, though, and watched her as I made her walk back and forth across the room, he agreed that she was not as sprightly as normal. He prescribed some heavier pain pills for her and said they’d either work or they wouldn’t, depending on what was wrong with her. And it might be one of three things. Arthritis (best case scenario). Hip dysplasia (which I’d been preparing myself for since I got her, since she is such a large dog). Calcium deposits around the vertebra that have either formed into points or have broken off while she slept and are tearing into the muscles around her spine.
Well. That’s about all I have to say. This isn’t resolved, she’s only been on the new stuff since Thursday night. And she had another spell this afternoon after waking up from her nap. So.
How ’bout those Mets?