Friday, January 16, 2009


Very Old Dog is only three months shy of his fifteenth birthday. He is doing well. He eats everything offered, and charges along on his daily walk around the block, carefully reading all the pee mail, doing modified leapies of unmodified joy. Giacomino, in his youth, would leap straight up off all fours, a capriole of canine enthusiasm, way up in the air, equal in height to my shoulder.

Now he does these precious modified leapies. They're sort of a little jump, bounce and expression of glee. And they make my toes smile.

He does have spinal stenosis, the result of catching too many squirrels while travelling at a speed of 35 mph. Diving for the varmint, grabbing it and rolling, like a wide receiver. Without the padding. The spinal stenosis causes a disconnect between his legs and his brain.

Brain to legs, "Jump up those stairs."
Legs, "Huh?"

So I help him with stairs. He's learned to wait at the top and bottom of our twisting, treacherous staircase in the house. It's an old house, and the downstairs ceilings are twelve-footers, so the stairway is steep.

Outside, there are three steps down from the breezeway to the yard. His preference is to leap straight off the top step and land plunk on all fours. This causes my heart to fibrillate. My preference is to help him up and down, but it is his time to fly and he tries his best to avoid my assistance.

I must be vigilant.

Yesterday I failed. I led him down the steps, and ran back in to preheat the oven. We were having dinner guests, and I needed to get the pie in. How long does it take to light an oven? Thirty seconds? It usually takes Very Old Dog a good sixty seconds to pee. But it was cold yesterday. Really cold.

When I turned to go back and retrieve him, he was already at the door.

"Oh! You did the steps by yourself! How about that!"
And then my heart fell out of my chest and landed right on the bloody spot on my dear, sweet, Very Old Dog's nose.

He had fallen, obviously, and struggled to get up. He had another scrape on his paw.

The only way my socks could get me over this one, is if I wrapped one really tight around my neck until my eyeballs popped out of their unworthy sockets and dribbled down my blue, lifeless cheeks.

hug your hounds


  1. Ah Patience don't feel guilty. No one could love and care for Very Old dog as well as you do

  2. You have done so much for him, and he doesn't hold it against you and you shouldn't hold it against yourself either. Sometimes doggies think they are invincible, and at least he didn't get into a horrible situation. In fact, he probably felt quite proud of himself! Every day is a learning experience and luckily it wasn't a bad one. (My almost 9 yr old grey still jumps down and up 4 steps to go out and one of these days...hopefully I will be able to deal with it as well and kindly as you do to your lovely VOD.)

  3. Oh My! Teka says if JRT leaps would help, she has more than she can use and will send the excess to VOD. They won't be as high, but she would love to share.

    teka and gus

  4. The Jewish mother in me says, give him a piece of that home cooked pie and your guilt will fly away!

  5. I like Helene's suggestion.

    And remember, even the best of us make mistakes from time to time. We can't all be dogs, after all! :)

    wally t.

  6. Awwwww, what a sweetie. I'm sure he didn't hold a grudge. It's like the joke, if you put your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car for an hour which one will be glad to see you?

  7. I do want to hug him. What a sweetie. You are still his world.


  8. Oh no... The weather we have now is bad for pups with spinal injury. Its not really your fault that Giacomino fell. Older dogs can be more stubborn and want to do things their way. Just be more careful the next time. Its not easy taking care of a senior dog.


  9. He was anxious to get back inside with his mom, Patience! It's okay, his nose will mend! Give it a kiss!

    Love ya lots
    Maggie and Mitch

  10. Oh please don't feel bad! Your just like my Mommy, she will cry(literally) if I have a tummy ache! Please just know that he still loves you, he knew you was busy, thats all! He just wanted to help you out & he made a couple of stumbles on the steps! Plus you know he loves you the most & could never be upset with you so don't be upset with yourself!
    Hugs & Snugs
    Eduardo the Snuggle Puggle

  11. I had a 16 year old Scottie named Otis, who used to sometimes fall on the two porch stairs going up or down. I would call him, he would come, and try the stairs, and take a tumble. I would say, wait a minute, I will help you. Go down the two stairs, and he would run off for the lilac bush and hide.
    So I would go back in the house and when I opened the door again, he would be sitting there waiting for me. He was so proud! We can't take that away from our dogs.

    Jo in MN

  12. Don't feel guilty! You do a great job, my gosh you have NINE dogs!! You are a great dog Mom and I am sure Very Old Dog forgives you.

  13. You do your best, that is all you can do and you are a great dog owner Patience. Have you thought of acupuncture treatments for VOD? Our Gwandma has a 14 year old large standard poodle who has a leg weakness/stenosis problem. Gwandma was never one for alternative medicine but is amazed about how much the acupuncture has helped the leg/spine issue.

  14. w00f's,

    Old dog just wanted to show u he can still do it...

    b safe,

  15. Oh baby ... don't beat yourself up. People do that too as they age ... my great-grandma, at 98, was told to STAY IN HER CHAIR, when everyone went out for a quick ride around the property. She however, figured she would get up and put dinner on. She fell down the backstairs and broke her hip. Terrors. Stubborn old folk & canines ... they just can't stop thinking they are as young as they used to be.

  16. If only we could be everywhere at once or as young as we used to be.

  17. Change that G.U.I.L.T into F.O.R.G.I.V.E and consider yourself human! Hugs, r

  18. Martha and P-DoggyJanuary 17, 2009 at 2:29 PM

    Accidents happen,dear P. My first VOD,Dante,used to "flap" on the icy ground.fall onto his side and bark for SOMEONE to please make him upright again.They keep on tryin',no matter what!

  19. You need to lose that guilt! He's forgotten it, and you are leaving him to his fun.

  20. Don't feel bad! Madden did the same exact thing several times this week...and she's only 4! She seems to forget that the deck gets slippery, and hits it about 30mph. If i don't have the door open and ready, then SPLAT! I know how you're feeling.

  21. A lot of love for that old dog shining through your post.

    What a beautiful friendship.

  22. Hi Whippets! We're pretty sure the Big Guy is a Neapolitan Mastiff (even though those horrible cropped ears make him look like a Cane) and my ma ape is getting in touch with rescue. She talked with them a few years ago because she has wanted a Neo for so long! He needs someone with big dog experience because he's obviously not had any training. But don't worry about him making you into a snack--he LOVES putting things in his mouth but he's a gentle giant! My ma ape's arm was SOAKED because he liked to put it in his mouth but he never used his teethers.

    I just hope rescue comes before my ma ape turns US into a Neo rescue!!!!

    wally t.

  23. Oh, please don't feel bad. He is such a sweet looking dog. I bet he already forgot he tripped, remember, he is a senior!! I love him, and don't even know him.

  24. Oh Dear...Patience, sometimes we dogs have feet for's not your fault dear Girl...we know VOD was tryin' to do it on his own...give him a big'll feel better!!!!!

    We dogs love endlessly!


  25. He's a dog. He's knows you love him. He knows you feel bad. He knows you take good care of him. And he's old. Never underestimate the power of pie.

  26. poor Old Dog. we think some pie and treats will make that little nose and paw scrape feel a lot better. don't beat yourself up too much. he wouldn't do it if he didn't want to. dogs will be dogs.


  27. Patience, you make me laugh and cry all in one entry! Poor VOD, but I am sure his sense of satisfaction at reaching the door all by himself far outweighed the discomfort of a scape on the sniffer.
    By the way, I also have spinal stenosis. I knew I shouldn't have been catching squirrels in my younger years! Serves me right!


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