Friday, December 12, 2014

Bravery, thy name is Ansa


My dog is getting very old.

Oh lawd.

According to the people she was taken from, she will be 16 in January. Extreme old age for a mainly border collie mixed with a vast unknown canine gene pool.

Arthritis, cataracts, poor old dear. Every morning, I give her a low-dosage aspirin for the arthritis. The stairs are becoming a huge challenge for her. It breaks my heart.

I've trained her to never go in front of me and to wait for commands when it comes to the stairs.

But these commands fail us badly when it comes to those stairs. Today, she fell down them again as she tried to go up and landed safely in the lower hall. She will not go ahead of me up the stairs even when I raise my voice.

I've got mats everywhere so she staggered up from her fall and went off to her downstairs bed and I went about my business upstairs only to find her curled up in her bed in my bedroom when I came out of the utility room. She had silently followed me up, in spite of the fall. Her love/protection of me outweighs her fears every single time.

It terrifies me that she will do serious harm to herself one of these days. She is smart enough for a "slow" command as she would always race down the stairs. Now she comes down slowly as she's also tripped coming down. I wait for her at the bottom, my heart pounding.

She still greets every day with joy, eats well and is continent even though she's drinking more water than usual.

In the moment: that's my girl.

As we all need to be.
In spite of.
Because of.

She has taught me so much.

25 comments:

  1. I carry Meg downs stairs every morning
    It's become ahabit

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  2. She's too heavy for me John, otherwise I would. A sling and pully has been suggested but the installation and operation of same is beyond me. Plus Ansa would hate it.

    XO
    WWW

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  3. It's very touching that she's determined to follow you up the stairs to be with you. I wonder why bungalows aren't the norm rather than houses with stairs? They would be a lot more suitable for arthritic dogs and arthritic humans.

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  4. Nick:

    OK order me a new house, a long bungalow :)

    XO
    WWW

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  5. My sister is in the same situation as you, her older Sheltie reached he eighteenth birthday last month. Now blind in one eye and with arthritis in the back end, it makes climbing the stairs in our old family home difficult. My sister has moved to a bedroom on the ground floor for the duration. As she says, each day now is a bonus.

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  6. I know what a difficult time this must be for you, and I am sorry. It's hard watching as our pets age. My kitty is in the same situation. She is now in her 23rd year and has lived more years than most cats. Her back legs are giving out and she is easily knocked over. Never on purpose of course, but I have to watch how I pet her. She too drinks lots of water and I know that is the kidneys giving out. She can no longer jump up on the furniture which relieves me because I fear her hurting herself if she jumped down. I, too, have mats all over for her to lie on. She follows me wherever I go and likes to lie at my feet. My darling little girl.
    Mary

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  7. My first thought was baby gates that have a door; but then I thought of how cumbersome that may be for you. Sadly, she is going through a natural transition, as painful as it is.

    It's good to read your post! I've been so inconsistent with blogging lately.

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  8. GM: I may move down here or as Anita says put in gates but I couldn't bear her crying either, she cries in a kind of silent way that would break your heart, little moans and deep sighs. Just like ourselves. I love the sheltie breed too, so loyal and intelligent.
    Thoughts to your sister, it is a rough time and having done it a few times before doesn't make it easier. :)
    XO
    WWW

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  9. MXT:
    They deserve our best after the long devoted years of service.
    Another friend was telling me over cards the other night, they cancelled two termination appointments with their vet as their old (15) dog rallied. As if he knew. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she said "he helped me raise the boys."
    Only animal lovers get this.
    XO
    WWW

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  10. Anita:
    Thanks for your kind words. Gates would give her separation anxiety and that bust-your-gut broken-hearted look full of accusation.
    We will stagger and tumble on. I wish I could lift her. I could always lift my smaller dog who lived 16 years.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. and that time it worked may - the chapta is no longer there. I am not knowledgeable enough to even know what an RRS feed is! It may because I am using macmate in England as a server. Will be updating to worldpress soon? Will try and let you know. Sad about your dog and wonder if you called her Ansa because she was your answer? They teach us how to Love!Lets see what happens when I hit Publish this time!

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  12. Hi Betty, you did it! Ansa is an Irish word for "divine" and she is :)

    XO
    WWW

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  13. Gates are dangerous. Terry took the worst fall of his life when his foot caught on one as he tried to step over it, pulling it out of its moorings and landing him flat on his back in the hallway. Really scared us.
    One thing old pets love is a cardboard box with a towel or a piece of old blanket in it. Keeps off the draft, and they feel cozy and protected.

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  14. WWW, I am sorry to hear it. Not wishing to bring the mood down further: Have you thought about "helping her along the way" (having put her down) some time soon?

    You speak of breaking your heart seeing her suffer. What breaks my heart is that animals are so stoic in the face of discomfort/pain they can't articulate. They'll limp on regardless. When big Bouncer (a cat) fell off his weight in zero time and started turning his back to the world, just facing the wall, I knew his time was up. Took him to the vet - skin cancer. Inoperable. Had he ever so much as said one word, complained once? No. The vet dispatched him there and then. In my arms. My son's (whose cat it was) and my comfort? Good old Bounce was "fine" once more. Purring - all eight kilos of his former so very contented self - in the big sky of furry tails.

    Yes, I know, WWW, I am a mine of comfort in the face of adversity. Please forgive me.

    May Ansa stay strong - for you. And vice versa.

    U

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  15. I can tell you are a knowledgeable, thoughtful and loving person toward your canine house members as well as human ones. We recently watched the relentless and then sharp decline of our oldest golden retriever. I mourned that my own handicaps meant that I could not help my husband get this 69-pound dog to his feet and wondered, if I'd been able to do so, if this golden's life would have been longer or at least more comfortable at the end. He seemed content as long as not asked to trot around and even happy at the extra attention. He was on pain medications for his arthritis, but was he actually in agony? How to tell? The vet, when consulted, didn't think he was ready, but then one day he stopped wanting his food. The anticipatory grief and knowledge of your own human shortcomings are sharp, too, aren't they, as you try to make the best decision for this loved member of your household? My heart goes out to you as you watch and mourn and decide.

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  16. Hattie:
    She has two deluxe beds with padded siding. One upstairs the other down. She still walks well and has a little bound of joy when by the water.
    Thanks for the info on the issue of the gates, I would be the one to land in a puddle on the other side as I find I am getting more awkward as I age. I was never as graceful as a gazelle to begin with.
    XO
    WWW

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  17. Ursula - thanks for the kind words. I've had to make the decision for other companion animals so will be aware when her time has come, I hope. I don't think it's here yet, just the mobility issues and those just around the stairs, she still manages to jump into the back seat of the car.

    I remember with one dog we had, her back end went and that is always curtains. Not yet with dear old Ansa but I am living in the moment with her. And enjoying this wonderful companion even more than before.

    XO
    WWW

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  18. Linda:

    Thank you for sharing your own pain and grief and inadequacy. It is easier with smaller dogs, I've had both. The small ones can be picked up and taken outside, etc. I had one, blind and deaf who would trustingly jump into my arms from our back deck to be put on the lawn for her business. It never failed to move me, her jump into the unknown, her faith I would be there to catch.
    So sorry about your loved canine. They give us their best, we try and honour that when it comes to these painful decisions.
    XO
    WWW

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  19. When I bought this house I only looked at one-story places. I figure it may be the house I stay in and I may be the arthritic one prone to falling down stairs!

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  20. When the stairs became too much for our 12-year-old Maine Coon, we put covered two 6" wide boards with a strip of carpet and screwed a 1"x1" across every 8" inches. That ran from the top of the stairs to the bottom next to the wall and was secured at top and bottom by two wee L braces. No jumping required, he could scurry up and down without any problem at all. We still had the rest of the stairs and the handrail.

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  21. Your beautiful Ansa--I have so enjoyed your blog posts about her. May you have many more lovely days to enjoy your loyal and loving companion. There aren't many things harder for us than to see our animal friends age. She's lucky (as are you) that you found each other.

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