the elderly years

As Rusty’s muzzle and facial hair whitened, other age related symptoms appeared. He did not jump on the couch anymore. He no longer had the endurance for the runs in the yard. He took longer breaks in between jaunts. 

He would carefully decide where he wanted to lay down so he wasn’t in the way and have to move again. I was giving him glucosamine and acetamenophin, but he still moved like an old man.  In this photo he is a tired looking old dog that I was not ready to put down. 

16 years old
16 years old

He would still greet me when I came home from work. He would still go to the bedroom to sleep and if I didn’t following within a certain amount of time, he would come back out to get me.

When he started needing to go outside more often, especially in the middle of the night, I knew his time was near.  Then he started having a hard time holding it in until I got home to let him out. I bought him pee pads. He was not eating much, but he did drink his water. I loved him so. I figured he might die in his sleep, on his own. I did not want to make an appointment to put him down. I did not want to decide the day that he should die! This was a gut wrenching subject.DC0262The above picture was taken with a flash, so his face is extra white!

I did check into an animal clinic emergency room in Monroeville that would take walk ins. So I knew how they operated just in case. 

The day did come.  August 12, 2012, the grandchildren were over. Their dad was cooking steak, corn on the cob, etc. I offered Rusty a small piece nice and juicy. He sniffed it and turned his head away. I knew then that today was the day. I told the kids that after I drove them home that I was taking Rusty to the emergency room in Monroeville.

I did not make the decision. Rusty was telling me that it was his time. He knew I needed his ok, a message. When he did not even lick the meat, but turned his head, I gently hugged him and cried. I was sorry for letting him suffer so long.

We had our own little room at the hospital, he laid down on a comfortable rug and I sat beside him.  The doctor came in, sat with us on the floor and told me what was going to happen. She was very respectful and the staff was very caring. All was over about 10:30 pm. He went to rest peacefully.

still learning

They say you can’t teach an old dog a new trick. Dogs and humans are always learning. Some might take longer than others, but when it clicks, you got it!

Rusty continually learned new ways to get around my rules. He also would tell us when he wanted to play and what game he wanted to play. He alerted us to critters in the house. He told us when he needed to go outside and when he wanted to go outside.

Rusty would sneak a coin and lay it in front of himself. This told us he wanted to play. We had made up a game where we each tried to snatch up the coin first. He was so cute. He could roll his eyes in a suspicious manner like he was teasing me to make the first move.

The only toy he never shredded was the little squeaky lamb made from real wool. We called it his baby. We asked him to go find it or bring us the baby and he would. He would shake it and throw it in the air, grab it again and lay on it. At times he would just gnaw on it, lick it or ignore it. When we would hide his baby, drag it on the ground, Rusty loved following the scent to find it. This seemed to be his favorite game. He would bring us his baby and place it at our feet looking at us, wagging his tail while backing up a bit. He was telling us to get up and hide it so he can sniff it out.  He always found where we hit it.

ruff and tumble days

Life was pretty settled. We ran on a routine. Rusty knew his boundaries and he had his own spot and chair in the living room. Since he was short, he couldn’t see out the windows. He could lay on the back of the couch to see out the front window. To see into the yard and the road up to the driveway, we reserved a chair for him. You give a child a highchair, we gave him a window chair. At times he wanted to sit beside us when we were home. When we weren’t home, his chair gave him access to the outside world. It happened one day that we were all busy rushing to leave the house. When I got home after work (it was summer) he was sitting at the edge of our property by the basketball hoop. He didn’t take off and my neighbor had given him some water. He sat their most of the day and watched the cars go up and down the highway waiting to see my car turn up the lane. He was so cute when I did turn up the lane. He wagged and made circles all the while knowing to stay away from the car until I parked. It was a great moment.

While I was at work, my son called me from home said the oven was shooting out a flame from the connector to the inside of the oven. The flex tube had cracked and lit up. I called the fire department and told my son to grab the strong box, (which he didn’t even know about) and get himself and the dog out. Everything was fine. The fire department arrived, shut off the gas and checked the house. The big trucks, men in fire outfits scared the heck out of the dog. Rusty walked around with his tail curled between his back legs for days. It would not straighten out!
stance of frightened dog

He was fine after a few days. It was the most activity he had ever experienced. Poor guy.