Friday, February 11, 2005


I commented to Sammie how a post that she wrote about the death of her beloved cat Toby has been on my mind a lot lately. She mentioned how in Toby's final days his legs became useless. And that made me realize something.

When we went to Cornell last week, Haley lay on her dog bed that I had placed in the back seat. This is a big fluffy thing from Sam's Club, consisting of a soft fabric cover over a cedar-filled pillow (very similar to the one I photographed Haley laying on at my friends' house this weekend.) This bed is fairly thick and it added several inches to the height of the back seat. So I wasn't surprised that Haley had a hard time getting into the car, and needed assistance getting out.

On our first major walk last Friday, Haley fell. She was jumping up onto a curb after we had crossed a street, and her hind legs slipped out from under her. I was concerned that she was OK, but I didn't think this was that strange, because she was standing on ice when she hopped her front legs up onto the curb. When it happened again at the same place on Tuesday, I thought that maybe her feet had slipped into the spaces on the storm drain in that part of the street.

Haley has showed increasing fatigue with each walk, and seems to want to sniff every fire hydrant, lamppost, utility pole, fencepost, wall, shrub, and random point of terrain more than she used to. I'm wondering if this is her way of calling a break every five to ten feet.

Please know that I do not force her to walk to satisfy my own needs; I present the question "Do you want to go for a walk?" to her each morning before I make my morning ablutions. If she does not want to walk, she will ignore the offer; if she does, she will be waiting outside the bathroom door. Still, I've been becoming concerned that I am overexerting her, so we skipped Wednesday's walk specifically to give her a rest, and we took a much shorter and less strenuous walk today.

As part of our routine when we come home after our walks we enter the house through the back, which has a short flight of steps going up to the an enclosed porch. I always go up first, hold the door open, then call her up the steps so she can go in. This morning at the end of the walk I went up the steps, opened the door, turned to call her in - and she was sitting in a very weird way at the bottom of the steps. It almost seemed that her entire pelvis was curled under her body. She looked like half a dog, or a dog rising out of the concrete patio at the bottom of the steps.

When I came home from work this evening, she barked loudly as I came in through the back door. But she was down in the basement, her usual lair - sitting at the bottom of the steps leading from just inside the back door. Normally she would be standing there, tail wagging, looking up the steps as I entered the house.

So now I'm concerned that the tumor in her chest might not be her most serious or immediate problem. Is there one on her spine, too, that is gradually robbing her of the use of her hind legs? If so, how long until her hind legs fail entirely? And then what the hell do we do?

No comments: