Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Deaf, not dead

Sara is pretty much deaf now. She remembers all the routines though, so it took us a while to realize she couldn't hear us when we told her, "Tell me!" If you hold a cookie out to sara and don't give it to her right away, she will do the WHOLE routine, developed long ago to impress friends - sit, speak, hold out the left paw, then the right, then down on her belly and a final yelp. Ching ching ching, magical cookie code. It's really hard to pinpoint when she lost her hearing, but over the weekend we confirmed she just can't anymore. Maybe this is why she groans all the time, she doesn't even hear herself doing it. Sometimes she'll lay there for half an hour with a constant low hum, like a person with too high a fever. Oh does it pull on our heartstrings. Still, she makes the same sound when she's happy and wagging her tail, so the groan isn't necessarily indicative of pain. Gosh I hope it's not. Serge keeps hinting that it's "time". See, he comes from a family where when the dog got the milky eyes and the scraggly look, they just put it down. As MIL said the other night, they're luckier than us humans, they can be euthanized. I have come home a couple times unable to find sara, and then discover her sleeping in the closet. Of course I don't think she's sleeping, I think she has gone in there to DIE, and I stand and look for the rise and fall of the fur (is she breathing?) before my heart will descend from my throat. When I'm home, she stays in whatever room I'm in, always right up against my leg or the chair. This is irritating at times because I forget she's there, and certainly in the case of the office chair, I've rolled onto her flesh causing her to cry out innumerable times. If Serge is home, he will scold me for this. I keep figuring she'll learn about the office chair danger zone, but no, it is I (me?) who have (has?) the responsibility of always looking before rolling. Also the pooping routine is cumbersome. Now she doesn't hunker down to get the whole shipment out, she just stays crouched long enough for one morsel, then she travels a few more feet, squats, another orb comes out and repeat. Seriously, she'll do this five or six times for a single movement. She still plays and begs and cuddles too, so a little hearing loss isn't going to make me relent. I'm sticking to my guns - if she can't walk or shit by herself, I will relent, but for now, she's staying.

30 comments:

"Just David!" said...

When i had to have my dog euthanized, she was 18. The vet told me that it's instinct any animal to look for a place to hide when they're dying so they don't become prey, left over I guess from when they were wild.(?) My Gypsy used to hide in the closet then one day I couldn't find her and she was outside and had burrowed under the poolhouse, it took hours to get her out. It was then time. It broke my heart. You'll know when it's time. She looks like such a sweetie, I'm sure she's enjoyed you as much as you've enjoyed her!!!

Snooze said...

It does seem like she's still managing. I like your criteria for when to call it a day.

Anonymous said...

Dogs bring so much joy to our lives. And they are emotional sponges. They can absord all of our irritability and grumpiness and wring out nothing but love and loyality in return.

Our dearest golden retriever, Samson, died abou 3 and a half years ago. He was one special dog. He always used to lay at my feet at the dinner table. One evening, he was laying in such a way that I couldn't pull my chair up to eat. I said, "Sammy, I love you, but you gotta move." Grudgingly, he got up and moved aside. A few days later he died in our arms at the vet's. Several nights after that, tears welled up in our eyes as I told my partner at supper that I wouldn't make Sam move if me was back under my feet tonight...

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the poem about Gaelert the Greyhound. His master went hunting with his friends and supposed Gaelert was there as usual. But Gaelert was nowhere to be found. The Master goes home without any game because his Gaelert was not there to help. As he enters his property, Gaelert comes out to greet him. The master is astounded to see him covered with blood. The frantic father rushes inside and to his precious baby boys room. Everything is turned over and blood is everywhere but no child can be found. The master can't believe his loyal hound could have done such a thing. With a loud curse he drives his sword through Gaelert's heart. The hound cries out as he dies. Then awakened by the noise a sleeping boy awakes from under the upturned crib, unharmed. Laying next to the crib is a giant wolf, it's throat torn open. Oh what sorrow and pain was felt by the master as he realized he had killed the loyal Gaelert who had saved his baby boy.
Many a rough and brawny man has shed tears as he reads he story at Gaelert's grave. (it makes me tear up every time I read it too) Ed

bardelf said...

With her white fur, she sorta looks like the doggie version of Barbara Stanwyck. Pretty girl.

Lemuel said...

Just from reading your blog, I have my own attachment to your Sara. I look eagerly for your posts that include her exploits. It is clear to me that there is still a lot of love in her. She will let you know when it is time. Believe me, I will join you then in your grief!

Cooper said...

She's become a lovely, darling, eccentric old lady. I 100% agree with you. Her groans and little foibles should remain until her life contains no dignity, and her pain is greater than her joy.

CoffeeDog said...

Oh this reminds me of when I was having to make these choices for my dog Andy Panda. One day I came home, she had fallen on the wood floor, shat and peed, and who knows how ling she laid there. I picked her up, we got her cleaned up and put her on a soft bed on the deck while she dried. We brought her in that night to sleep in the kitchen, left her there when we went to work. We got home, she was in the same spot she was when we left her. I suspect she didn't get up at all that day. As soon as I saw her I knew it was time. I balled my eyes out.

I regret that I forgot to feed her one last meal before we rushed to the vet. I regret that I wasn't better prepared to give her a meaningful goodbye party. I was just so wrought with guilt about her being in pain, I wanted to end it for her.

I still miss her, and I have several pictures of her in my office.

I think you've got a good gage on when it's time for Sara.

birdoparadise said...

I think the groans are happy noises of contentment, because that's what our four-year-old dog does when she is lying on the rug with a sock in her mouth. Happy pup.

It will be Sara's time when her quality of life keeps her from being happy in your presence. You will know when that is. You can hold her in your arms as she falls asleep, then quietly slips into that permanent sleep. We did this a few days before Christmas for our cat and it was awful and necessary and the final loving act. She had only two days of confusion and fear in her twenty-year life. She was loved, as is Sara, and Sara knows it.

cluck! said...

You will know when it is time. Give her a big hug and a kiss from me.

David said...

I've been on "death watch" before, too. Those tense moments where you stand stock still looking for any sign of movement. It's emotionally exhausting but I cling to straws before I have to make the "decision."

GayProf said...

Unless she is clearly in pain, I wouldn't do anything. Enjoy the remaining time that you have together.

RoxRocks said...

Good for you to stick to your guns.

My mom had a dog that ended up blind and deaf. She would go to the door and stand there and you had to stomp on the floor so she knew the door was open to go out. Same thing when she came back. It was weird.

I want you to be in charge of my living will...if I can't shit or walk on my own, I want someone to put me out too.

Lacey said...

Yes, it is YOU who has the responsibility of looking before rolling. She's a DOG, you jerk. As for Serge...I'll slap him.

Poor baby Sara...

Patrick said...

Coltrane was taught a handful of tricks to do when he gets a treat. Sit, shake, roll over. Over time he's evolved them all into one single fluid move, in the hopes that doing all of them at once will expedite the treat hand-off. I'll try to get video of it, along with his snow boots prance. It's really pretty graceful: sit, lift one paw, drop the shoulder into a roll, sit up again, look expectant. It's very Pilobolus.
Yes, it sounds like Sarah is pretty happy, and still good company. I agree, you'll know when she's suffering too much.

em said...

Oh, Sara.

A Bear in the Woods said...

Weeeellllll,
Cooper and Lemuel said it well.
I would just like to ask Serge if he wants to be put to sleep just because he can't take a good shit.
Sara has so much love.

Ms. Judy said...

Oh I do feel for you. But rest assured, you will know without a doubt when it is time. Until then, enjoy your snuggle-bunny.

gitta said...

Give this wonderful old lady all the love you can for the rest of her time being. And make it a routine to first look and then roll when you are sitting in your office chair. I got used to this order many years ago. So far I did not roll on one of my two cats, who both love to silently place themselves under the chair.
My heartfelt best wishes to Sara!

TJ said...

I say let it be unless she is in pain and miserable and if you can't relieve that pain than its a different story. We tend to be a bit selfish when it comes to family members and yes I believe pets are family, but in the end we need to make sure we are doing what's best for them. sometimes what's best for them may not be what's best for us and and I have been in this situation on one to many occasions. Anyway, I'd have her checked out by the vet and see what they have to say, but as it stands let it be. Hope it all works out for the best. Warm Hugs if I may

Lewis said...

Oh boy, and here I sit with a brand-new puppy two days now. My heart is tugged in a million directions. I send you giant hugs and Sara the same.

christopherc said...

Might the mind always be tempered by the heart lest we act upon life in haste.

May the season of loving life with Sara continue a good long while.

Peace,
-C

David said...

The end of this poem (?) always brings me to tears, because while it's been a while since I had a dog, I've never, ever forgotten the ones that I had.

In the end, you both have to choose when her time has come. But, as the last few sentences say -and one I truly think is logical - there comes a time, broken heart or not, for Sara to venture off to that undiscovered country.
*********************************

And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and good sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going.

I am not having fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I drew, that my fate was always
safest in your hand.

--- By Beth Norman Harris 1968 ---

mainja said...

You may remember that a while ago John and I had to have our cat 'Kitten' euthanised at the ripe old age of 21.

John said that every day when he got home for the last three years or so he would have a little pit of anxiety until he went and found her and made sure she was okay.

And I agree with the others, you'll know when it's time. I never really believed that when people told me, but then with both my cat's that I've had to do it with, I knew.

When it is time I recommend considering a vet who will do home visits. For us it was worth a lot that the last moments of her life were not filled with the stress of a car ride and the vet. Just here, at home, where she was comfortable.

hmmmm.

well.

okay, not the happiest of memories. but yeah, trust your instincts, you'll know when it's time.

Summer said...

Sara is so lucky to have someone who loves her as much as you do. You will do right by her when the time comes.

abnitude said...

sara is adorable and you are right to hang on. you will know in your heart if you have to do something to make her not suffer. enjoy every day you have her and let her keep doing her cookie routine for you...you know she loves doing it and loves to please you. thats their purpose.

Greg said...

Sara is a beauty and I agree with you and so many others: you'll know when the moment arrives and in the meantime, just love her.

Our Em is thirteen and has been making those grunty, groany muttering noises pretty regularly for most of that time. I think sometimes it is a sort of contented purr, other times expressing some opinion or other (like, why are you *smoking*, or I can't recall if I've eaten recently, or do we have to have a cat?)

She also has places she likes to hide away from any loud activity that's going on in the house.

dailybriefing said...

youre special. and so is sara.

hello, my name is danny. said...

oh how i feel for you and the story of sara. i am going through the same thing right now with our sasha. he's going to be 17 in june, but i'm not sure he'll make it to see another birthday. i just hope we do right by him and don't put him through inadvertant suffering.

anyway, best wishes to you and sara.

jason said...

How beautiful she is!