Friday, August 14, 2009

Dusty the wonder dog

Dusty is the most amazing dog that has ever lived with me.

He was one of three Pekingese that I adopted after the owner passed away. At the time, he was eight years old and I never expected him to live this long. In January, he will be 17 years old. That is at least 200 in human years.

At this age, I wouldn’t expect much to work right and in Dusty’s case, nothing much does except for his nose which can detect McDonald’s french fries from a distance of at least 20 feet.

His kidneys are failing, he has a loud heart murmur, he only has one eye which is partially blind, and his teeth are not in good shape …

I would love to clean his teeth but I am convinced something very bad would happen to him under anesthesia.

His appetite is so-so despite being on an appetite stimulant. For months, he ate only eat chicken and rice and his kidney blood values went through the roof. I thought for sure he was not going to make it through the summer but all of a sudden, he developed a fondness for Prescription diet G/D and his blood values improved dramatically. Currently, he likes his G/D mixed with peanut butter. He likes this for now. Tomorrow, he might develop a complete aversion to it.

Last Saturday night, Dusty’s doomsday clock ticked a little closer to midnight. Late in the evening, he ruptured a disc in his back and he became acutely paralyzed in his hind end. I rushed him to my vet clinic and gave him opioids to help with the pain and steroids to help with the swelling. That night, he didn’t sleep. He sat up and cried. I don’t think he was painful; I think all the pain medicine made him completely loopy and he was seeing lots of pink elephants float by. Or maybe they were pink poodles. You hallucinate what you know.

Treating a ruptured disc with pills is always a difficult task. There are many dogs that don’t respond and either need a cart or sadly, need to be euthanized. Some dogs take weeks to respond and some only respond partially. The ideal treatment is surgery but of course, this wasn’t an option in Dusty’s case. On Sunday, I feared the worst because his reflexes were not showing any signs of improvement. I worried about the steroids putting even more pressure on his kidneys. I thought that Dusty was not going to make it to his 17th birthday.

Two days later, Dusty’s reflexes were almost normal. He was able to walk and despite his confinement, he tried to run. His attitude was great and even his appetite was pretty good. It was if the whole experience had not phased him in the least. To put it in human terms, this is pretty much like your 90 year old grandfather suffering a stroke and two days later good ol’ granddad wants to run in a marathon.

Thank God, I am his veterinarian. All these diagnostics and medicine do NOT come cheap but I get a discount.

This is the list of medications that he is on:

Prednisone for his back
Gabapentin for his back
Novifit for his cognitive dysfunction
Aluminum phosphate for his kidneys
Mirtazapine to stimulate his appetite
Pepcid to settle his stomach
Calcitriol for his kidneys
Vitamins for his anemia
Sodium chloride for his eye
Flurbiprofen for his eye
Fish oil for his arthritis

But Dusty pays it back in other ways. He loves to cuddle, although not always. Actually I make him cuddle. He sleeps in my bed sometimes but he tends to spread out and take up too much room. Most of the time, he prefers to sleep on the floor on top of dirty laundry.

I look at him and he makes me smile. He is just a little guy but he inspires me. No matter what is thrown at him, he just overcomes it. He never complains.

After reading all of the above, you might wonder if I’m “just keeping him going.” I assure you that his quality of life is still very good. He’s happy. And his life on earth is as good as it gets. I often think that he doesn’t want to die because he just isn’t convinced that heaven can be any better.

And I’m hoping that he won’t be convinced for a good long time to come.
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1 comment:

Beverly said...

Thanks for sharing about Dusty. It is truly amazing how our little friends can be such an inspiration and comfort to us. I must say that at times I much prefer the company of felines and canines over homo sapiens.