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Had a weird experience with the dogs today.

Dick and I rescued two dogs before his death. Champion, our All American Mutt, was the first. He is the greatest dog in the whole world. If he was a person, he would be a Hospice nurse, I am totally sure of that. He is loving, devoted, loyal, compassionate, silly, comforting, and just wonderful. He was Dick's true buddy. HRH Miss Sophie, Queen of the Universe, a Parsons Jack Russell Terrier, is the second and actually more my dog than Dicks. She is total Jack Russell Terrier! Champion is, I think 12 years old, Sophie is 8.

Both of these animals were such loyal companions for Dick as his health declined and he was not able to work any more. Champion, especially, was so devoted to Dick..with total concentration.

Today, I took the dogs to the dog park for a bit of exercise. Champion totally believes water should ONLY be found in his water bowl. He is not interested in any other form or source of water. I noticed him standing in a patch of grass at the park acting strange. He was picking up one paw, putting it down then picking up the other paw. He just looked so funny and wouldn't come when I called him. I walked over to him and saw that he was standing in a patch of soggy grass. He didn't like the water on his paws, but seemed not to be able to figure out how to get out of the squishy mess. I managed to get him to run out of the grass with me to dry land. He was so pleased to be on dry land. Strange.

Later, I noticed him standing in the middle of a big patch of snow. He looked so stressed. He was lifting a paw, trying to lick it, trying to lift a back leg, then sitting down. He was panting really hard and when I got to him and put my hands on him, I could feel his heart beating hard and fast. I think he was having a panic attack or something! I had to pick his chubby 45# self up and carry him out of the snow to dry ground. I squatted by him and petted him and talked to him and finally his panting and heart thumping slowed down. By the time we left the dog park, he was his jolly old self. I am beginning to think he is beginning to have dementia or something.

I know this probably seems silly to you all, but the thought that Champion might not always be with me almost gives me a panic attack. I know he is getting old and will die at some point, but I am not ready for that to happen.

As weeks, months and years pass without Dick, it seems things other than memories connected to him are disappearing. The dogs were things he loved and enjoyed so much. It makes me sad to think about the two of them being gone.

Another sucky thing I am going to have to learn to deal with.

Again, life is a marathon, not a sprint and we all have to adjust and adapt to what is the new normal. It's just kinda made me melancholy this evening.

Anne

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Anne, I totally understand your post. Our dog, Bentley, is a huge connection to Bill who died 22 months ago. He was his companion on the darkest of days, is my therapist who at 74 pounds feels it necessary to leap onto my lap when I cry, and at 8 is starting to show signs of age as he pauses before he jumps into the car. He, like your Champion, has his own fears....any changes in the house set him off. When he was a tiny puppy he would notice the slightest change and bark at it. The first time I came home from the grocery store and put the bags on the counter to unpack them he started barking at the bags and it was clear to him (and to me) they did not belong there. To this day he will bark at any changes I make in the house...my coat over a chair instead of on the hook by the door, etc. These critters are so kind and sensitive...I love your description of Hospice Nurse. When Bill died at home, I was in the hospital bed with him wrapped around him. Bentley leaped up onto the bed (a high leap) and curled up on top of our legs and stayed put until Bill died, then licked Bill's hands and went down onto the floor next to us for a couple of hours.

The thought of losing him, like your thought of losing Champion-is one more connection to Bill -GONE. I treasure every connection I have especially our dog who we have had since he weighed just 7 pounds and met when he was 5 days old. Your description of Champion standing paralyzed by fear in wet grass and snow is so vivid. It surely sounds like panic. Do you see other signs that dementia may be creeping in? My heart goes out to you. I know I will lose Bentley some day (4-6 years most likely) and I so so dread the day...he is like Bill's and my child...we raised him...he chose us. I can barely stand the thought so I do know of your pain and I do NOT think your feelings are silly. I respect them. We live right near the Wisconsin River and Bentley would not put one foot into that water. No way. I bought a child's pool for the yard hoping to get him into water there...no way. I could have put a juicy steak in the pool...empty...and he would let it sit there. he does not do well with new things. Some I can get him used to over time. I was so excited when he ran through a 20 foot tube when I took him back to Obedience classes after Bill died. He was a mess. I was a mess. He floundered without Bill, regressed and ate things (ear plugs on my iPod, Bic Razor surgery, xrays etc $2,000, a $5 bill, and more) and the groomer thought the structure of classes with me in charge (not Bill-though Bill did not see himself as Alpha Male) might help Bentley and it did but I was so wishing Bill could have seen him run the tube after his many attempts.

I came across this article and it put me on the alert since Bill died of Alzheimer's and I am especially tuned into dementia. http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2010/02/01/dementia-and-anxiety-in-your-older-dog-what-to-do/

Another is: http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/dogdiseasesconditions/tp/canine-dementia.htm

I send you warm hugs as you deal with even the thoughts of losing Champion.

Mary

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Totally understand the loss of pets, especially pets that were close to our spouses. Mike love all animals, while I am primarily a dog person. We had several cats, older ones, when he died, and just in the last couple of months I have lost 2 of them, with only one now remaining. One was really old, and it was her time, the other had cancer, and died very suddenly and unexpectedly. He loved our Corgi girls also, and they are both around 6 or 7, cannot remember. According to everything I read, they are about half way through a normal cycle of life for a Corgi. Don't know what I would ever do without them. They are my "children". And they are spoiled rotten. Losing the cats that Mike loved was hard, even though I am not a particular cat person, but he loved them, and it is another link gone.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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I spoke with the vet this morning about Champion. Champion has low thyroid and takes medication. The vet says that low thyroid is a classic symptom of Canine Cushing's Disease. Dementia is also a classic symptom. Given Champion's age and the thyroid problem, her guess is that he does have Cushing's disease. There is no cure and we will just treat symptoms as they appear. In her opinion, he probably did have a bit of a panic attack yesterday and by removing him from the snow and talking to him, I did what was appropriate.

Now we know that we will need to keep an eye on him and comfort him if this happens again. Given his age, I know that his health will decline and accept that. Now it is our turn to return the devotion and support he has lavished on us. It's a fair trade.

When Dick was no longer able to work and was on oxygen 24/7, Champion would sit on the couch by him, leaving only to dash outside to go to the bathroom and grab a bit to eat. If Dick got up, Champion followed him, even laying outside the bathro

When I came home from St. Louis alone without Dick, Champion and Sophie were so confused. Champion would run to the car, turn around, look at me and bark, asking me "Where is my Dad?" It was so sad. He and Sophie would run from the front door to the family room; jump up on the couch and sniff where he usually sat, then run to the bedroom, jump up on the bed and look at me and bark. They wanted their Dad and couldn't understand why I didn't bring him back with me. It took them a long time to accept that he was gone. Moving to Colorado helped. Dick had never been in this house. People tell me dogs don't have feelings, They obviously have never had a dog!!!

I am googleing Canine Cushing's and will educate and start to prepare myself.

We lost Dick father to Alzheimer's, so I kinda know what's coming. My poor baby.

Anne

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Anne,

I'm sorry to hear of your dilemma with Champion. My son's dog, Skye, has lived with me off and on since he got him several years ago, he's almost half my dog, as much as I've had him. He has a neurological problem and his left front paw turns under sometimes and he seems to not know where it is and it drags on the ground. Consequently, we can only take him on short walks on the grass now and have to keep a constant eye on him. Usually when this happens it's a back paw and you can make a sort of walker for the dog. I've never seen one with a front paw that does this. Skye is aging at an accelerated rate, and we are thinking he is older than we'd thought he was (he was a rescue dog so we don't know his birth date). He is such a beautiful sweet Husky and it breaks my heart to see him aging and going through problems.

Dogs are definitely members of our family. We feel about them as we would a child and we can develop very close bonds with them. It's no wonder that watching them go through this aging passage is extremely difficult for us. The best thing we can do is make them comfortable and give them the best quality of life we can. They have been there for us for years and now it's our turn to be there for them. My little Lucky girl (Whippet/Dalmatian) became incontinent the last two years of her life. She began losing her eyesight and hearing and having arthritis. The best I could do for her was to clean up after her, uncomplaining, and make her as comfortable as possible. When she began to wake up in the night in pain I decided it was time to have her put to sleep. She's always been a smiler, and the last couple of years she rarely smiled. I knew it was time. That is one of the hardest decisions we can make.

I wish you years left with him and continued enjoyment with one another.

http://www.kateconnick.com/library/cushingsdisease.html

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Hello, you wonderful people and dog lovers. Since my husband passed away a little over three months ago, I found this board and have come to it from time to time when I needed to feel reassured that I am not alone with my sense of loss and sadness. When I saw the posts about dogs, I knew I had to share with you our love of dogs. My dogs have been my greatest security and support since losing my husband! They get me up in the mornings and keep me going all day. For more than thirty years, my husband and I rescued special dogs (and some cats) from our local shelter that were in danger of being put down. In fact, some were just moments away from euthanazia. In recent years, shelter personnel would contact us if they had a "special needs" dog that had no hope of adoption. As we had no children, our animals were our greatest joy and comfort for the nearly forty years that we were married.

Last summer my husband suddenly became very ill and required surgery. Complications set in and for almost two months, my husband was hospitalized. On two occasions I brought him home but both times an emergency occurred and I had to call for the ambulance to rush him back to the hospital. The last time my husband came home, it was for less than 24 hrs. While we waited for the ambulance, I sensed that my husband knew that he would not be returning home ever again. He picked up one of his beloved dogs and hugged that dog so hard and didn't want to let go. I knew that my husband was saying a final farewell to his furry family that he loved so dearly. It broke my heart. I still cry when I remember that day.

After my husband passed, he was cremated and his ashes, along with the ashes of his favorite dog, were scattered from an airplane over the family farm where he was born. (My husband was a former military pilot and, in addition to his love for his dogs, flying was his other passion.) My husband and his beloved dog returned "home" together on my husband's birthday. I find great comfort in knowing that my husband and his best friend are now together on the land from his childhood that he loved so much. As sad and lonely as I am at times, that always makes me feel better. I just wanted to share with you how much our love of dogs has helped to ease my grief.

A special hug to all those wonderful animals who make life better for all of us!

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Welcome to this forum, there are some great people here. I'm sorry you lost your husband and I can really relate to your love of dogs. My own dog was rescued from the animal shelter and I know he would have been hard to place...he's a chewer and a digger, but I found that once he got used to his surroundings here, it's settled down considerably. He is my greatest companion and the most fun dog I've ever met, it's just people don't give him a chance and get to know him...he happens to be big and people are put off by that. When I tell them that's size discrimination, they look at me funny. I tell them if he was a 20 lb. dog you would think nothing of his behavior or movements, it's just when they're over 100 lbs they don't want them to move or talk. Me, I like him just the way he is.

I'm so glad there are people like you that see the good in dogs and give them, not only a chance, but a loving home. The return is very much worth it!

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LuvDogs,

I don't know you, but I love you. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. My dogs are also my greatest security and support since Dick's death. What would we do without them. They were and still are some days, the only reason I got out of bed. They had to be fed! Champion NEVER lets me forget that he needs to eat! :rolleyes:

I am so sorry for the reason you have come to this site. We all are wounded and crave support and understanding.

Again, thank you for sharing the story of your husband. It is so touching.

God Bless You!!!

Anne

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Thank you Luvdogs, for a special story. My husband died at home alone, very unexpectedly of a massive coronary. I was in the hospital about 1 1/2 hours away, having had a total knee replacement 2 days before. He died sometime after midnight on Jan 13 2010, and was not found until late the next afternoon by our daughter. He was surrounded by our two Corgi girls, and an old rescue shepherd that we had, and even when my daughter walked into the house and found him, they would not leave his side. It took her several minutes to get the little dogs to go outside (they had been by his side for probably 12 or 13 hours), and she could not get the big old dog to move until her husband got there and carried her out. If I could not have been there with him, I am happy he had his animals around him, he was such an animal person.

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss. This is a wonderful place to come for comfort, or just to rant and rave, which all of us have done at times.

Mary (Queeniemary) in Arkansas

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Anne, thank you for your kind words. It is so nice to know that you appreciate “animal” therapy, too! My house would feel so empty if I didn’t have my dogs demanding my constant attention, my cats that want to be petted, and my birds that sing and chatter (and sometimes squawk!). As much as I miss my husband, I never feel alone. Since we can’t turn back time, I try to look ahead and do what I know my husband would want me to do. And that is for me to take the very best care of our furry and feathered family that I possibly can. I know he would do that for me if I had been the one to pass on.

Two weeks after my husband died, I started attending weekly grief therapy meetings sponsored by a local church. I have met wonderful people with whom I can share my sorrow. In that setting, none of us feel that we need to hide our emotions. But I have noticed something very interesting. All the others attending the sessions have children and grandchildren who live near them and they all spend a good deal of time with their families. And yet they are all extremely lonely. I am the only one in the group with a house full of animal friends and, thus, I am the only one who goes to bed at night surrounded by pure love and devotion. I miss my husband terribly and, no doubt, always will. But knowing how much he loved me and all our pets gives me peace and comfort and a feeling that he is still with me.

My heart goes out to you and your Champion and Sophie. With older dogs, we never know how long we will have them. I, too, have an older dog with health problems. In addition to our daily routine, I give her extra hugs and love and that makes her very happy. I know you will cherish each day you have with your dogs and they will continue to remind you of the love you all shared with your husband. Those are the good memories!

My best to all of you ...

Judi

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