Saturday, 25 August 2007

EYES: A word, if I may.

Maddog is old now and his health is failing. At 13 years, 5 months and one day old, he is doing very well for a dog of his breeding - 13 is generally accepted to be "last legs" territory for Collies, and "dead" for the other breeds in his makeup. In other words, we are very lucky that he is still with us at all.

Given the above, it is unrealistic now that he will fulfill his aim and finish telling his life story for himself. He simply hasn't got long enough left. I do not exagerrate (sp?) when I tell you that he has cost me more in vets' fees in the last month alone than the house in which we live costs me in mortgage payments. Just this morning I forked out yet another £110 for his various drugs, dressings, creams and special foodstuffs. He eats like a king now, as he is under vet's orders to be spoilt rotten and fed "whatever you can tempt him with". So far today we have managed to get half a tub of Liver Pate, half a homemade (by one of his many friends) caramel slice, several tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches and a few mouthfuls of actual dog food down his now spectacularly scrawny neck.

He has a neurological problem in his spine, which has left his back legs extremely weak. An ear infection in his right ear has alerted us to the presence of a tumour which makes his balance iffy to say the very least. He has such advanced muscle wastage that he is skin and bone, a condition which results in the appearance of pressure sores, which he then chews into gaping wounds, which in turn have to be cleaned, creamed and dressed twice a day. He is on a cocktail of medications to help him enjoy his last days as best he can, all delivered wrapped up in wafer thin ham. Preferably honey roast. We did not expect him to last the summer, hence the lack of postings to his blog - it has simply been too painful to look back on his youth when every week I have expected to come home and find he has passed in my absence. That said, it is now late August and he is still tottering on. So maybe we need to think about getting him out to do his business once the weather is too cold to leave the back door permenantly open, after all.

Reading the above, it would be understandable for you, the reader, to consider me cruel in keeping him going at all. In fact only a few weeks ago, when what turned out to be the aforementioned ear infection was causing him acute distress, we actually got as far as paying for a vet to come out and put him to sleep. Those few hours, thinking my first love would be leaving me forever, were some of the most heartrending I have ever experienced, and when it turned out we could help him after all the £250 bill was merely a relief. The point, though, is that when it is time I know I will have to let him go, and I am prepared to bite the bullet and do it. But that time hasn't come yet.

He still scarpers down the road every time anyone leaves the gate open. He still barks for attention and hauls himself across the garden when he needs to "go" - unless you leave him with a dogsitter (in the form of my husband's nephew) for a few days in which case he feigns incontinence. To go into too much detail about his other little geriatric escapades would be to spoil his story for those who stick with it to the end...Suffice to say there's life in the old dog yet. This morning he sat bolt upright in the Landy on his way to the vet with the biggest erection he's had in years. Of course, the second we stepped through the surgery door his legs went everywhere and he looked a mess as he collapsed in a pathetic looking heap by the counter. He then suddenly managed to summon enough energy to haul me across the car park on the way out again, pausing to stick his nose up a very unimpressed young Rottweiler's bum on the way past. Draw your own conclusions. His heart, at least, is still strong - in every respect.

I shall step back now, for as long as he is still here he can speak for himself. I'll return when he finally says his last goodbye. In the meantime, you can rest assured that there never has been, and never will be, a dog as loved as Maddog.