Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:17 am

Well, it's working and not. She'll start out on the bed and eventually ends up wherever she's cool and comfortable. I don't know if she likes the bed or not...sometimes it seems she does, other times not. I've been thinking of taking the little bed away and seeing if she stays in that space without it better. Maybe she would be happier with just extra mattress foam pads. I don't know.

It's just SO hot here and we keep the little fan on for her, but that doesn't mean she'll stay there. For now, the tiles, as hard as they are, are actually comfortable for her because of the coolness.

Lately, I've thought of joining her on those tiles, it's so hot!
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:47 pm

Shame they don't make a gel pad that you can refridgerate like the gel packs you can get for the cooler. On the other hand.............how about some of those first aid gel packs under a sheet to keep her cool on the mattress? A little lumpy but softer and cooler than the hard floor. Just an idea.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:53 pm

Mockingbird, do you not have AC?
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by jeanebellini on Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:57 pm

im wondering the same thing suzzz.....
i wonder if you could find some of that foam 'egg crate' stuff for Hil right now. it would be cooler and closer to the ground but still better than a hard floor. hey, i slept on one for several months;)
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:14 pm

Oh, yes, absolutely we have air conditioning and boy, do we use it. We have the AC on and the ceiling fans and the little fan, but it's Southern Georgia in July, during a heat wave, and it's just miserable. It's ok in the house for us, but we also don't have a double fur coat on. Hildy's coat has the soft undercoat, almost like down feathers and then the heavier fur on top. She belongs in Germany, not here. I tell Joshua that we have a Hound and a Hund. Wink

She is ok usually in the house, but with it feeling hotter than it is with the humidity, the AC can only do so much to combat it. We can't shave her either. I read all kinds of stuff about that it is dangerous for German Shepherd Dogs to be shaved (their coat does help to keep them cool, but I don't know if it works in the Deep South.) Also, they can get sunburned very easily.

So, we are doing the best we can. It's just a beastly summer for us all.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:13 pm

Thank heavens summer will be over in about 2 months....................it's going to be a long 2 months.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:55 pm

I'm not one to recommend a product, but you might want to try a Furminator on Hildy if she consents to being brushed. I used one on my sweet late Daisy, and it really was amazing. It thins the inner coat, the heat-trapping layer of fur. I agree, dogs like Hildy were never meant for this climate.

http://www.furminator.com/products/dog/long_hair/tool

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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:54 pm

Furminator works wonders on kitties too who have very thick hair, like Bij. You'd be amazed how much sleeker and cooler they feel when you're done. Gets all the dead hair out, so less to vacuum up too.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:37 pm

Thank you for the suggestion!
I just purchased a Furinator and have used it. It was amazing alright. Enough fur to make another whole dog!
Thank you for the reminder to brush her. I have, but it's easy to let it slip, especially with going out of town and off my routine. I will put that on a check list to do every day. I'm sure that will help her be more comfortable. This is the first summer since we've lived here that it's been this bad. Hopefully it won't be a regular happening.

It's been raining here the last couple of days and things have cooled off a bit. Last night she slept almost all night in her bed. When we were stationed in Colorado, we took her to the most wonderful dog park. I still miss that place, huge open spaces, walking trails, lots of other dogs and people to visit with, and a beautiful creek running along one side of it. Hildegard loved laying in that creek and in winter she still did! Ice cicles would be hanging down along the creek bank and some of the more still water would be iced over and she would go and lay in it!

Yes, poor doggy just doesn't belong in Georgia, but I'm glad she's with us.

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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:01 pm

A Hildegard update...

We've been having some issues with Hildy lately. Mostly, the big one, has been that she's been pooping in the house!!! Rolling Eyes
At first, we were getting upset with her (it's not so great for Joshua to wake up in the morning for work and then *squish* step right in a poo in the early morning darkness. Bleah.

Quickly, though, we realized that of course Hildy wouldn't have just lost her mind about going potty outside. I watched her for a few days and noticed that when she did go outside, she would only hold the posture a few seconds and then stand and walk while finishing her doggy business. Her poor legs were hurting from the posture of going potty and so I think she was just holding it and holding it until she just couldn't any longer. When we took her and Georgia Rose out to play in the woods on Thanksgiving day, she couldn't run at all and was limping. It was so heart-breaking because she wanted to run and play with Georgia, but just couldn't. Georgia didn't just take off without her and stayed close by. I thought that was sweet.

We've also seen where she's been dragging her back right foot sometimes while walking. We eventually couldn't take her on walks anymore because she would just go slower and slower. We took her into our usual vet who tried Novox, but it really wasn't doing much. The next step would have been steroids and I didn't want to start her on those unless we absolutely had to.

So, we made an appointment the day after Thanksgiving for her to see Dr. Bragg, Slumber's vet. We took her in the next day, Saturday. She concured with our other vet's diagnosis (arthritis and a nerve problem in her spine) but gave us different medications. Hildy is on an arthritis chewable twice a day and a pain medication. The vet and the assistant fell in love with her and said they'd give Hildy every best chance at a pain-free, active life. She agreed that Hildy, being a 12 year old German Shepherd, is now in her 90's in human years.

That Sunday (only three days after the sad Thanksgiving walk and only one day after being on meds) we took the doggies out for another walk. This time, Hildy was much brighter, more spring in her step and she even broke into a run a few times! She had a much better time out and so we all did!

On Wednesday I took her out for the first leash walk in months. Towards the end, her leg was dragging slightly, but not bad at all for only being on meds less than a week. I am very happy with the improvment so far and hope it only gets better.

I am realistic, though...as much as I don't want to be. The doctor, when I asked, said Hildy wouldn't live another 5 years, most likely. I know...and I didn't mind her gently telling me. I can't imagine being without her, though. We weren't even married 3 weeks when she came into our lives. She's been with us every step of the way, every deployment, every move, every moment. I just can't imagine us without her...

And for now, I don't have to. She is doing a lot better, even though she is now almost completely deaf. The doctor checked her ears really well and said they were clean and healthy, just the ear drum has turned hard and no longer resonates like it should. She can still hear, but only certain tones and only loud noises. The potty issues have resolved themself and she is going outside before we go to bed. Yay!

I think she's doing great for such an old lady!
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by gbste on Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:43 pm

My old dog Henry has many of the same issues. Along with the "walking poops" he has lots of trouble getting up once he lies or falls down. He does better if the weather cooperates and we can get him out to the park where he can walk around on the soft grass. He's on a combination of steroids and supplements, and those also help him. He's hanging in there, and as long as he's not suffering, we're standing by him. I understand and commend your work with Hildegard.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fluffnstuff on Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:46 pm

I'm glad you went to get a second opinion and was able to get relief for Hildegard.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:36 pm

I second Fluff! Shop Dog has many of those same issues and Rimadyl has been a godsend for her quality of life. My only concern is that, feeling so much better, she may be doing more than she ought to do, but at 15 my main focus is her happiness here and now.

DogMom kisses for Hildy and Henry!
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:57 pm

I am so glad that second opinion vet was able to help Hildy. As long as she's comfy, able to have fun when she wants, etc. then life is good. I know the end will be very hard for you, but you will do what you must for her sake, not your own. Enjoy her while she's here.

I was smiling when you described how she was able to play and run a bit after being so miserable earlier. Those meds are a godsend.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:56 am

Thank you for your kind support, dear Mutties.
The doggies are not here right now. We went out of town for the weekend and kenneled the dogs at the vet's. (Dr. Bragg at Rice Hope Animal Hospital, Slumber's and Hildy's vet.) I am going to get them in a little while. I'm hoping they saw a big improvement in her as well.

Joshua and I have agreed to take the doggies out to the woods as often as we can (meaning weekends) while Hildegard can still play. They have so much fun exploring the trails and woods and the river (the river is low right now and I can see the bottom of the area in which they play. Remember, they are NOT allowed to play in deep water or water that is even the slightest bit suspicious. Even in winter, we stay alert and make sure the dogs are safe at all times around any water.)

We are getting a new car soon and it is a small SUV (Chevrolet Equinox.) We are looking into ramps for the dogs to use to get into the car. For now, though, Hildy is back into jumping up into our little Saturn. I've tried to pick up her back end and help her in and she will allow me to if she's really tired, but she mostly wants to do it on her own as she always has. Hopefully the new car will come in this week and then we will have a ramp for her to use. Our car door now doesn't open wide enough to utilize a ramp.

I miss those dogs! I'm going to go get them before noon. Smile
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:13 pm

I am glad you are going to use a ramp for Hildy, she's smart enough to learn to use it fast enough. Much easier on the ol' arthritic hips and knees than jumping. Might have to lead her up on the leash a couple times to give her the general idea....

Going to the woods often while she still can enjoy it will definitely give Hildy something to look forward to. Good quality of life component there. Bless you. And the vet who gave you those meds that are working so well for her.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:32 am

An update on Hildegard...

She has been doing pretty well on her arthritis meds and the fecal accidents had stopped. Well...the other morning she had another accident. Then, two mornings in a row (at 4:30am one day and 3:30am the other) I awoke to the smell...I looked and Hildy was in her bed, but had an accident and didn't even know it. Poor doggy! Sad I was so upset, not with her, of course, but for her.

Yesterday I took her to the vet (same vet that took care of Slumber and now is Hildy's vet, mostly) and told her what was going on. Hildy is also acting like she's starving all the time and has become extremely unsteady on her feet. Just brushing her yesterday made her fall over. Crying or Very sad The vet did a blood test and it turns out, Hildy has very low thyroid levels. Normal doggy levels are 1.1 - 1.4. Hildy is at 0.5. The vet said that low thyroid can cause all of the problems Hildegard is exhibiting lately and so now she is also on a thyroid pill. It takes about 2 to 4 weeks for it to get in her system, and last night she had another accident but she was trying to make it for the door, so at least she felt it coming on.

Please, dear Mutties, please pray or whatever it is you do to connect with the Divine, for our sweet doggy. She is old, but her spirit is strong and she is wanting to play and be here in the world. I just want her to be happily in the world and not feel like she made mistakes all the time. I cried at the vet's yesterday...I am thinking too far ahead and worrying and am already sad about her potential passing. I really need to live like she does, in the moment, and not borrow trouble, as my mama says. Lately every time I look at her I want to cry and that will only make me miss the time I have left with her.

*sigh*
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:46 pm

Glad to hear the arthritis meds are working. Those thyroid pills should work wonders for Hildy too. Low thyroid hormone makes you extremely tired and sluggish, which could explain why she slept through that one accident and was slow getting to the door for the other. Will be praying and hoping bigtime for you and Hildy, I know she wants to stay here yet. Such a strong loving spirit she has....
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:52 pm

You already know what to do for Hildy and yourself -- live as much in the now as you can and give the new meds time to make a difference. You and Miss Hildy have my prayers, darling.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Sue Short on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:59 pm



Glad to hear that Hildy is doing better. Everybody understands how hard situations can be,
of course I will keep you in my prayers and I know others in here will too. I love you
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:57 am

Hildy seems to be doing well on her thyroid medicine. Only one accident since she's started on it and she did try for the door.
We took her in for a visit to her very first vet who started with her when she was about 12 weeks old. The only reason we left that vet (well, first, we relocated (Army move) and then we were sent back after a few years away) was because of Desperado and his urinary blocks. We had to have a vet closer for him and we just moved everyone to the new doctors. But Dr. Beatie was Hildy's very first vet and he loves her. He always said of Hildegard "She's not a German Shepherd. She just has on German Shepherd clothes." haha! Anyway, we haven't seen him in about 4 and a half years, and we went in for a check up and visit. He acted like he had all the time in the world...stayed with us for an hour. He felt that she was on all the right meds and supplements for now, but had suggestions for when those meds and sups stopped working. Ultimately, we did talk about our end-of-life plan for Hildegard. While we certainly don't want it to happen any time soon, we need a plan. I told him that Joshua and I had discussed it and we wanted him, Dr. Beatie, to take care of Hildy if we needed help at the end. I'm hoping she'll just go to sleep one night and not wake up, but I doubt that will happen. He almost starting crying, and said he'd be honored.

He also suggested a better bed for Hildy. He said to go get a memory foam bed topper for her. Why didn't we think of that?! I did and she absolutely loves it. I think her bed is more comfortable than ours now!
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Sue Short on Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:30 pm



Glad to hear that Hildy is doing well. You vet sounds wonderful. I love vets like him.
I wouldn't have thought of a memory foam pad either. Happy that it's working well for
her. How are the rest of the fur kids doing and your husband.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by Suzzzz on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:23 pm

I'm glad you trusted your instincts and took Hildy back to "her" vet. A man who understands that she is an angel in Shepherd's clothing is the right doc for her! And one who understands that the end-time of a good life can also be a good time, eased with love, attention, and care. I'm sure he'll help you all along the way. I'm so glad Miss Hildy's so comfy with her new bedding! I love you
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by mockingbird on Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:43 am

We still love Dr. Bragg at Rice Hope, where we've been taking her, and Dr. Beatie reviewed everything Dr. Bragg has been doing. Dr. Bragg has a state-of-the-art clinic whereas Dr. Beatie's is a little country office and doesn't have as much fancy stuff. He's there, though, and that makes the difference. They each know that we are following up with both of them and they are ok with that...I like that about both of them, they welcome another opinion, another point of view. Dr. Beatie was the one who suggested the foam bed and I told Dr. Bragg and she hadn't really thought of that. Well, neither had I! So, maybe they can get new ideas from each other as well...

Hildy is delicate in her walking. I have to watch out for Georgia Rose with her. Georgia waits at the door until Hildy goes through but then she runs out and today knocked Hildy almost completely over. Sad So now, I hold onto Georgia until Hildy has cleared the path...I have been, but sometimes Hildegard stops and looks back like "aren't you coming, too, Georgia Rose?"

We took the doggies out in the woods and by the river last Saturday. Everyone had a great time and Hildy is still enjoying her adventures...just a bit more pain medication when we return.
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Re: Senior doggy issues (Hildegard)...

Post by fiffur on Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:21 pm

I'm glad Hildy's two doctors work with each other for her sake, between the two of them she'll have the best quality of life she can get. As long as she's enjoying life without too much pain it's a good day. I know what you mean by being more delicate at her age.........it's kinda like your frail great great grandmother in her 90's....you compensate for their physical difficulties to keep them safe. I bet Hildy was wondering why Georgia Rose didn't come barreling out after her as usual when you held her back. Georgia doesn't realize her friend is getting old, or realize her own strength.
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