Ah, the consummate "gotta please Dad" dog. Shadowdog has never done anything in his entire life
that he did not give his all. From chasing his 'bumper' (a Kong), to eating, to just laying down,
he knows no way other than DO IT NOW!
I got Shadowdog when he was 8 weeks old. Sitting all alone in a cage and no one wanting him, I knew I just had to have that square-headed dog with the strange looking fur. As you can see by the first picture below, he was mostly white.
At first I thought I'd ended up with a ditz. He was clumsy, and acted the part of a twit. "Hey, I thought Cattle Dogs were supposed to be smart!" Boy, did he prove me wrong. His style was to watch and observe and learn. When competing for my attention, he acted the part of court jester to the hilt, but when he had that attention, he became totally focused. It was amazing to watch the transformation.
His debut as a guard dog was when we were in a park and a full-grown Dalmatian approached. Only a few months old, he turned into a whirlwind, all teeth and legs, chasing the bigger dog away. All I could do was stand there and laugh at him, but he's never backed down since.
Never the lounge dog, he's always on the move and wanting to play. Walks, running, ball, bumper, anything and everything he can do to have fun is his agenda. His favorite sport is to attack an old tire swing in the back yard.
But contrary to how he might appear to an outsider, he's a big kissy dog. Guaranteed to give you a bath with his tongue he greets everyone with a wag and a bark. What an absolute joy.
Shadowdog has been diagnosed with "Congestive Heart Failure." If you don't know what that is, it's a condition in which
the heart can't pump enough blood to the body's other organs. The symptom that Shadowdog suffers from most is edema (excess
fluid) in his abdominal cavity. This, in turn, causes excessive pressure on his diaphragm and results in difficulty breathing.
Currently, Shadowdog is on a heart medication to help the heart pump more efficiently and a couple diuretics to help him
eliminate excess fluid from his body.
Already, Shadowdog has had large quantities of fluid (over a liter and a half!) drained from his abdomen a number of times. He handles this quite stoically and doesn't complain. The people at the Veterinary Clinic think he's quite a dog and express their great affection for him. I've placed him on a reduced-sodium diet, and naturally he doesn't like it.
We are going in again on Saturday to have him checked over. The fluid seems to build up faster of late. Eventually, I think his heart will just give out, but hopefully that will be some time. He's almost 13 years old and that's a good age for a dog. While I'll do the utmost to keep him happy and comfortable, I won't take any heroic measures with him. He's had a good life, and like Gizmo, there's no point in keeping him alive if he's going to be miserable.
Well, it's been a long road for the Blue Dog. We've been getting Shadowdog's abdomen drained about every 2 weeks of up to
4 to 5 liters of excess fluid. Up until the last time on the 17th, he's come out of the back room at the vet's wagging his tail
and 10 pounds lighter. An amazing change that's kept him in high spirits and feeling pretty good. This last time, however,
there was no tail wagging and it was a dazed and confused-appearing boy who staggered out. Holly, the vet-tech who's been
taking such good care of my boy said that the fluid was apparently thicker and had a lot more blood mixed in this time. I could
see he was somewhat in a state of shock.
We got home and Shadowdog staggered to the front door. His usually watchful eyes showed nothing more than a glassy stare, like he was stunned. He reminded me of a deer caught in headlights. He came in and paid down on the pillow in the living room I laid next to him and had my arm over him, gently stroking his neck and chest and legs. Normally, he won't allow close body contact for more than a minute, but he just laid there and let me pet him. Occasionally, he'd wag his tail a bit, letting me know that he appreciated the attention. I got him some chicken, which he loves, for a bit of protein, but he refused to eat After a while I got u pand let him sleep, which he seemed to need.
About an hour later, he appeared a little more alert, but still had no liveliness in his eyes. I offered him the chicken again and he wolfed it down. 2, 3, 4 bite-sized pieces, then the rest was ignored. He slept some more. A little later he got up and drank his fill and laid back down. I petted him off and on for the remainder of the evening, letting him know he was loved, but trying to let him rest. During the night he still got me up a couple times to go pee.
Friday he seemed to be ok, but still very tired. He ate his breakfast, and did his business outside. I went to work and had my friend Ken check on him during the day. He was still sleeping a lot, but he ate more and drank water without difficulty. Saturday he slept all day, except for a trip outside every couple hours, He gobbled some string cheese (one of his favorite snacks) and went back to snoozing. There's still no spark in his eyes. His breathing is labored and he's gurgling a bit, indicating fluid in his lungs.
Sunday I called the vet, and Jen answered the phone. It was so very hard to make the appointment, but I promised that he wasn't going to suffer. Once he reached a point where he wasn't happy and obviously very uncomfortable, I had decided that I would have him put to sleep. So our apointment is today at 6:00 PM. Dr. Mallov will be his doctor. He's a new vet, but he has a lot of compassion for animals. He's seen Shadowdog a couple times and I've been impressed by his concern for my boy. Like with Gizmo, I hate to have to do this, but I'm not going to let Shadowdog suffer, I went over to my friends' Tim & Debby's house after making the appointment with the Boys to let them say goodbye. It was so hard to say that I'd made that appointment without breaking down and bawling like a baby. Debby offered to go with me for the appointment, which was very kind. She's had Cattledogs for a long time, too.
Shadowdog had New York steak for dinner, with ice cream for dessert. He ate a good portion of steak, but not as much as he normally would. He's sleeping next to the refrigerator right now in his favorite spot, but I can hear him wheezing once in a while. It's half-past midnight and I'm dreading making that trip in 17 1/2 hours, even though I know it's for the best. It's almost 1:00 AM... I think I'll go back to bed for a while.
Well, it's 19:15 hours. Shadowdog left peacefully at about 18:25 while cradled in my arms. It was very quick and Dr Mallov and the whole crew at Animal Medical Clinic showed us such compassion and sympathy. I sat on the floor and held my boy's head and stroked him. He left knowing he was loved and cared for. Debby was there and a wonderful support. Roo came along to so that he could say goodbye to his companion of four years. I've lost a good friend and companion of almost 14 years...but I know he's in a better place.
Good-bye my beautiful Blue Dog.
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