No More Walkies! A Dog’s Nightmare.

Some of you may remember that we lost Susie, our old golden retriever, last September.  She wasn’t a bad age – 12 1/2 – and she went down quickly at the end so we didn’t prolong her suffering and, once she couldn’t support herself on her back legs anymore, we called in the vet.  We have another dog who turned 10 in December and who is having problems with her legs now but she is a different proposition.  Instead of pottering around at terrace level in our garden whilst the two youngsters and I go up our mountainous garden for the morning walk as Susie used to,  she insists on forcing herself up to the top.  A few times lately, she’s got up there and then her back legs have collapsed with the effort and she just lies there looking confused.  The problem is – I don’t know how I would ever get her back down again if, one day, she can’t manage to stand up.  So we took her to the vet and she said that, as well as arthritis, she has ‘arthrose’ and walking up the side of a mountain or running around chasing balls with the other dogs is definitely not a good idea so we’re going to have to start leaving her behind.

Well that was on Friday so, this weekend, Mr. T has been at home and I’ve been able to stay indoors with her.   When the other two have been ‘sneaked out’ for a walk, she cries and paces up and down but at least somebody is there to comfort her.  Starting tomorrow, when I’m on my own during school hours and have to do dogwalking duties, she’ll be left behind on her own and I know she’ll be stressed for the half hour or so that I’m gone.  That is, of course, if I actually manage to get out through the door without her in the first place.  She has taken to positioning herself at the ‘exit’ and guards it with her life.  I don’t know whether you’ve ever tried it but it is very difficult to get past a 35 kilo german shepherd who is determined you are going nowhere without her.

Anyway, it must be done because we don’t want her to be in more pain than she needs to be but I worry about the mental stress it will cause her.  I know 10 isn’t too bad an age for a GSD, especially considering her start in life.  She was one of a litter of 3 puppies born to a pair that were being kept  in cramped conditions specifically for breeding and were eventually rescued by the R.S.P.C.A. which is where we got her.  She almost went lame when she was 6 years old as she has a very shallow hip joint which was causing lots of stress on the cruciate ligament in her knee and – thank goodness we were paying insurance – she had a state of the art operation which involved putting some metal in her leg and it was all done without her having to be in plaster for 6 weeks afterward. 

So, really, she has had an extra 4 years of running around and walking and playing that she might not have had.  Still, try telling her that!

I’ll let you know how I get on…….



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  1. #1 by trash on January 29, 2012 - 18:12

    Oh no! Such a difficult position for you. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could actually get them to understand when we are doing things for their own good?

  2. #2 by UniqueNique on January 29, 2012 - 18:21

    That is so hard both on her and on you – it would be wonderful if we could just make them understand that we are not leaving them out for any reason but that it is better for them. Would it be possible to have a little route that is flat that only she goes out on with you so that she doesn’t miss out altogether? I wish you luck my friend and give her a hug from me.

  3. #3 by Jodie on January 29, 2012 - 23:53

    She is so beautiful, if only she could understand.

  4. #4 by Jane on January 30, 2012 - 05:16

    I like to think that they understand more than we think they do. Perhaps she could be given a very favorite treat for staying inside. Our trainer is always reminding us that dogs want to please, to do what we want if we can just appeal to their animal natures. So maybe special treat followed by a private easy walk that includes some easy play or a chance to snuggle up while you read. Good luck. The fact that you worry about her state of mind tomorrow says good things about both you and your dog.

  5. #5 by Mary on January 31, 2012 - 00:36

    Oh my goodness, we are in the very same boat. I have Nigel, who is 4, and Lily, a yellow lab who just turned 14. Lily’s favorite spot since we moved into this house is upstairs in my bedroom closet. Well, we can’t let her up there anymore because she falls down (or jumps) down the stairs. Safety gates don’t work because she just flings herself at them until they give way. Now, she pretty much lives in the laundry room. She still likes to go outside, but as it’s winter I don’t like to leave her out too long. Just 2 1/2 years ago she had cruciate ligament surgery and did very well, but has steadily declined in the last 6 months or so. She loves to go for walks, but can only go as far as the end of the drive because, like you, I’m not sure I can get her back home if she collapses. We’re in that uncomfortable place of trying to decide whether her quality of life warrants letting her continue. As long as she’s still happy, I quess we’ll muddle along, hoping she’ll let us know when she’s ready to go. This is so hard, isn’t it?

  6. #6 by tialys on January 31, 2012 - 09:51

    Mary, I think you must know your dog very well after 14 years and you will find that, when the time comes, it will be obvious to you that it is the right time. In our case, our golden retriever started to refuse her anti-inflammatory tablets and, eventually, any food at all with the result that she was almost too weak to stand. The most telling sign was, when my parents came over from the U.K. she didn’t even get up to greet them which was unheard of as it was they who had her for the first 7 months of her life and she was always delighted to see them. Appropriately enough, they were still here on their visit when we realised she was telling us that it was her time to say goodbye.

  7. #7 by Hayley on January 31, 2012 - 18:29

    That must be so difficult for you and for her- dogs just want to be bear us all the time dont they? My two retrievers wait outside the loo for me.Could you take her for a shorter easy walk first without the others? That might tire her out enough so that she lets you go out again without her.
    I hate that dogs dont live as long as people. My dogs are only 4 and 2 so we will have a long time with them yet but the thought of them growing old and one day not being there is upsetting even now.
    Best of luck and big cuddles to your dogs x

  8. #8 by andyo1976 on February 21, 2012 - 21:27

    She look’s a lovely dog, she is in good caring hands with you. I have a Jack Russell, he is coming on for 12 this year and he is just as much a “git” now, as he was when we got him as a pup. I wouldn’t change a thing, its just said to see them getting old, best of luck with your girl…

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