Our New Dog

Vince is the best. He's friendly, he's sweet, he listens, and he's up for any adventure. It's no stretch to say he makes every day of our life better.

But he's been feeling a little down lately. For months now, Vince has seemed a little less sprightly, a little less excited, a little more melancholy. He's been slower to wake up in the mornings. He started taking the stairs one by one, pausing on each step on the way down to get his bearings. He started needing help jumping up into the car. When we went on walks in the park, he wouldn't really run, no matter how enthusiastically I darted around him. "Come on, Vince! Let's go! Vince?"

No, he just padded on down the trail -- taking his time, sniffing plants and whatnot. Catching up to me in due time. It took a squirrel sighting to get him really moving, and unfortunately there aren't too many of those in the wintertime. Also, the fur started disappearing from the top of his nose, leaving more black and less tan on his little face. Getting older, we guessed.

Oh, and his stomach seemed to be bothering him. More and more nights he'd wake us up wanting to go out, and we learned after his first accident -- which humiliated him -- that we'd better honor his request. We started watching him closely as he sniffed those plants and things on the trail, making sure he didn't nibble on them at all, and forbid all the friends and relatives sneaking him any people food. Some would anyway, and sure enough, poor Vince would suffer diarrhea later that evening.

And that's okay. Like I said, he's the best. If it's time for him to get older, it's time. And he did just turn six this month. We were prepared to bear with him as his systems started letting him down, and make whatever adjustments were needed to keep the little guy's life as good as possible.

We switched his food to a probiotic mix. Made sure he got regular walks, but not long enough to make him tired. (For the record, I never really did see him tire; he just wouldn't be hurried is all.) I called a couple places for quotes on carpeting the staircase. And when he needed help up into the back of the car, we of course bent down and gave him a boost.

The diarrhea thing was bugging us, though. Aging is natural, but there's no need for the poor guy to have to squat out in the cold and rain ten times a day. And it can't be good for him, either.

The vet recommended an antibiotic, which seemed to clear up his problem temporarily, but it always came back. Some thought he might be anxious over the new baby's arrival, but he would sleep peacefully beside her crib since the day we brought her home.

Eventually the theory was raised that old Vince had a gall bladder deficiency. The vet wanted to run some tests to check, and even though we had no idea what could have caused such a deficiency and were afraid to ask what treatments are available, if any, we took him in to have some blood drawn.

We're still waiting for the gall bladder results, actually, since those have to be sent out of state for testing, but a few hours after the visit the vet called and said his thyroid wasn't working right. She said we'd still keep an eye out for the other test results, but in the meantime we could put him on a veterinary thyroid medicine called Soloxine. It's one tiny little .5 milligram pill, twice a day.

He's a new dog.

Like I said, we still don't know what caused the problem or even what else might be wrong with him, but the Soloxine was the closest thing to a miracle drug I've ever encountered. On his 6th birthday he acted more like he did on his 1st (well, maybe his 2nd; he's not *quite* a puppy again), and every day now he's more eager to play, to run, to go outside *without* needing to and, yes, to jump up in the back of the car to go for a ride than he has been for a long, long time.

I know he's still getting older, and I know that one day he'll have problems that can't be solved by a little white pill. And I also know that he's just a dog, and that plenty of people are dealing with much more serious issues than a sick pet or an upset tummy.

But Penny was telling me the other day, as we were discussing what kind of parents we are and will be, about a mom she knows who likes to celebrate as many occasions as possible. Holidays, birthdays, Summer Solstice -- for her it's all cause for a big to-do. And I like that. I think too many happy moments come and go unacknowledged for most people, in most lives, and I'd like to do what I can to rectify that in ours.

And besides, despite the comparative triviality of the situation, we're still incredibly grateful to have our "new" old dog back. And we're still incredibly happy for him. He must be feeling so much better.

One of my favorite things he does now is the I-Wanna-Go-Outside Dance. He's gone from Eeyore to Tigger, by Lope's summation, and it's just nice to watch his love for life grow too big to fit inside the house, daily.

So to celebrate this new enthusiasm, and the restoration of Old Vince in a new way (even his nose fur is coming back now), thanks to the Lake City Animal Clinic and the makers of Solozine and the plain old gracious whims of good fortune, I made a little compilation of some of Vince's greatest recent hits.

It's him, asking to go out, running through the grass in the park, and being "walked" (sort of) by Grace, the 3-year-old daughter of a friend of ours. And it's Mr. Vincent at his (new) (old) (wonderful) best.


music made possible through the unwitting courtesy of Franz Ferdinand


Anonymous said...

Sasha (our Rott) is on Siloxine 2x daily. Personally, I liked her more when she was slowing down - now she's just plain irritating ;-).

- kohn

Anonymous said...

When was my dognephew's birthday??!!?? I didn't even send a greenie, or a card, or a hedgie or anything! I'm feeling like a negligent aunt. I just love that little guy...and I don't even *like* dogs. Pretty amazing if you ask me. I'm so excited to see Veda get to know him and love him, too. Give him a belated birthday hug for me!


Magnoliawhispers said...

Go gettem Vince! Tillie still perks up when we say his name. I know the feeling, I take Synthroid 1x/day

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Tilly has been on soloxine since she was 1 1/2 when I got her. Her 13th birthday is tuesday and she is still going strong!

Colin said...

Wow, it's so great to hear about all the other dogs we know (or know by extension) who are helped by this stuff. Even, Kohn, when it makes them a little more irritating to their owners...

And Meg, happy birthday to Tilly.