Old age is catching up with Brandy

Brandy in 2005

Brandy in 2005

We are currently living with an elderly dog in our home. My husband Mike’s dog, Brandy, turned 15 last August 4th. She has always defied age, seeming to be many years younger than she really was. But lately it seems, time has caught up with her. For a while now she has seemed to be much weaker in her legs, especially her back legs. She didn’t run as fast or as far and sometimes struggled getting up the stairs in our house. But she still walked with me every day – 2-3 miles, and spent many hours outside. But slowly things have been changing. After talking at length, Mike and I agreed (and the vet confirmed) that she seemed to be suffering from pain due to arthritis. So we put her on Rimadyl – first a half a pill a day, then we bumped it up to a full pill (half 2x per day) to manage her arthritis. It seemed to do the trick and we had our old lively senior back again…for a while.

Brandy in September 2006

Brandy in September 2006

Then the accidents in the house became more frequent and she began needing to potty in the middle of the night – sometimes multiple times. And she seemed to be struggling at times to stand up from a lying position and conversely, she often seemed to “collapse” in half from a standing position (her back legs would just fold at the hips and down she’d go, legs sticking straight out in from of her.) We decided to limit her walks. She seemed better for awhile but then she seemed to have even more trouble navigating the stairs, and often she’d simply slide down them after making it half way up. Mike started carrying her downstairs at night to potty. I do sometimes during the day too. We think maybe the walks, even though they were long, were actually helping with the arthritis so I’ve begun walking her again, but just a half mile a day. We will see how it goes.

Brandy at full speed in 2004

Brandy at full speed in 2004

Recently I saw her struggling to poop, the position she was in was difficult for her to maintain so she began to teeter, then she fell, sprawled in the snow. She struggled to get up and fell again, face first. She struggled again and you could see that her legs seemed to be locked in the wrong position, front legs pointing nearly to the sides. I had tears in my eyes as I watched…it happened fast and just as I was heading to the door to help her she miraculously regained her balance and somehow made it up the stairs. At the top she snorted and shook herself (it appeared to me that she was gathering up her dignity) and gingerly walked inside.

I have had a difficult time with Brandy for the entire time I’ve known her. She has been frustratingly defiant, difficult to train, and aloof. But seeing her move through her old age with such grace and acceptance has made me respect her much more. I feel for her so. And so now, we wonder, how long will she be with us? And, do we decide when it is her “time” to go? Or do we let “nature” take its course? There are no easy answers here.

December 19, 2009 • Tags: , , , , • Posted in: behavior, Brandy, dog ownership, health

3 Responses to “Old age is catching up with Brandy”

  1. Rob - December 20th, 2009

    this is such a sweet and sad post. i’m sorry to hear that brandy is suffering and i look forward to seeing her in a few days!

  2. RJ - December 21st, 2009

    It is very hard to watch a loved one get old no matter how stubbern they are. My old Lab Shena will turn 14 on 12-23. I wonder were all the time has gone and it is amazing all of the things we have been through together! Shena is also on meds for arthritis and takes a few pills for pain. We too have shorten the walks with her, but when she does go her tail never stops wagging!! and with your last statement I feel the same way………..please let “nature” do it for me, because the other way is going to be soooooo hard……

    Take Care

  3. Kristin - December 29th, 2009

    Yes, this is a sad time. It is also difficult because some parts of the day she seems fine and others are really bad. Like today, she came literally running inside after pottying! But then earlier today she fell down the stairs and caught her leg in the gate…So hard.

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