Well, I just finished icing the dog’s back. And I don’t mean “covering with delicious chocolate frosting,” which would be not only demented, but extremely messy. Especially for a sheltie.
No, I mean “icing” as in “icing an injury.”
Maydeleh’s very good about it, really. Even though she clearly thinks I’ve lost my marbles, she sits patiently while I hold the icepack to her spine for the required 5 minutes.
You see, our wee doggie has reached the cusp of her golden years—she’s 9½, which translates to about 66 in human years—and she’s begun to suffer some of the aches and pains that flesh is heir to.
It’s not our dog’s first rodeo
Poor pup. She’s been through her share of health crises in the past few years.
First, there was the 2-inch bony lump that appeared on her front…knee? elbow? Whatever.
It developed seemingly overnight, accompanied by extreme lethargy, both of which had our vet looking deeply concerned. She started using words like “amputate” and “biopsy” and “specialists.” Not words you want to hear about your beloved pet, I can tell you.
At around the same time, we discovered that poor Maydeleh’s thyroid had given up the ghost, and her thyroid hormone levels had dropped to almost nothing. That’s when we started giving her Synthroid, which seemed to perk her right up.
Weirdest thing of all? When we took her back to the vet to get her thyroid levels re-checked, not only were they right back where they belonged, but the Mystery Lump of Doom had completely disappeared. It was gone, as though it had never been there in the first place. If we hadn’t seen it on an xray, we’d have wondered whether we were making the whole thing up.
Our vet actually got choked up with emotion when she told us, “It’s…completely gone! I’ve never seen anything like this!”
We all felt like we’d dodged a particularly nasty bullet.
That was then…
This time around, it started with panting and pacing.
Dogs pant. It’s what they do to cool off in warm weather: they don’t have sweat glands, so they have to rely on releasing their body heat via their tongues.
And our dog, as mentioned, is basically wearing a fur coat 24/7. Great in Ottawa’s ridiculously cold winters; not so wonderful during our brief but hot summers.
So at first I didn’t think much of it when Maydeleh would start panting for no apparent reason. But when she started panting and gasping all night, every night, in our air-conditioned bedroom that’s not even a little bit hot, I started to wonder. She’d also started having a lot of trouble getting up and down stairs, and a couple of times has actually stumbled and fallen backward. Not at all her usual thing.
Then, one night a couple of weeks ago, she was panting so loudly, and getting up to change positions so frequently, that neither she nor I slept at all. (Mitchell snored blissfully through it: advantage deaf guy.)
This is when I knew we needed to get her to the vet again. As the vet poked at her back, Maydeleh winced visibly—a big deal for a sheltie, since these little dogs are deceptively tough and hate to show signs of pain. We left that visit with a bottle of doggy painkillers, and instructions to ice her back three times a day.
For the past couple of weeks, poor Maydeleh hasn’t been allowed to chase her ball (the activity that gives meaning and joy to her life), and has had to submit to thrice-daily icing sessions.
Lately, whenever we sit down with the ice pack, Ralph saunters over and joins us; it’s as if he knows his long-time buddy isn’t happy, and needs his support. Or he’s just bored. Hard to say, with cats.
For her part, Maydeleh sits stoically through her icing. It does seem to give her some relief, but she’s really not back to herself yet, so she’ll be seeing the vet yet again this afternoon.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s another “magic disappearing lump” situation, but I don’t know how realistic that is. I mean, how often does that happen?
I’ll tell you, though: this little dog couldn’t be more loved. I’ll let you know what happens.