Thursday, July 15, 2010

My pal, come what may.

Here's Lagniappe, with his award ribbon for helping me reach my goal and attain the President's Fitness Award Gold Medal. He earned it though a lot of hiking, walking, running and swimming with me. He's always been a fit and active dog and he loves nothing more than going outside to do something physical.

But those days are coming to an end. I haven't posted about it before but my best pal has Degenerative Myleopathy now. He's slowly losing control of his hind legs. Since I first started seeing signs of it a couple of months ago I've been wishing and praying that it was something else, but it's not. There's no treatment or cure and even though there's no time-frame for the progression of the disease, he's just going to get worse as time passes.

The vet says that he's not in any pain, and I'm confident that he's right. Lagniappe doesn't act like he's sore. He still tries to run and jump and play like he's always done, but now he misses his mark when he jumps and he often falls down when running around corners or trying to descend stairs. The first few times he did it, I laughed and called him a clutz. But that was before I knew what was going on. I don't laugh any more. Now each time he falls, I wince and hope that this isn't the time that he hurts himself. I know that it's just a matter of time before he does, but he won't slow down--he still thinks that he can do the things that he really can't do anymore.

This is hard to deal with. We've been through a lot over the years, and we've covered a lot of ground since I took him in back when he was a sulky, hateful and dangerous ex-police dog that even the kennel that had bred him couldn't handle anymore. "Just take him," the owner told me. "If you decide that you don't want him, just bring him back like everyone else does."

I almost brought him back a few times that first month. But I always found myself giving him one more chance because something told me that there was a good dog under all of that hate somewhere. And it paid off in spades as he eventually learned to trust me and became my best friend. We've traveled together from Florida to Maine. He's flown co-pilot with me, and when I lost my leg a few years ago he was a big part of my transition back to normalcy. He's my buddy, and we've had a lot of good times.

And honestly, the good times aren't over yet. The hikes are a thing of the past now, but I still take him swimming almost every night that I can, both to keep his legs exercised and just because he enjoys it so much. We still sit out on the deck together in the evenings and share bags of popcorn and the occasional dish of ice cream. (And I still take him into Harpers Ferry to the Swiss Miss shop there where Sharon, the owner, hands him his own ice cream cones.)

Yeah, he's slowing down now, and a lot of the things we used to do we won't be doing any more, but we're pals and we've been through way too much together to give up now.


  1. Brings a tear to know that he will pass and you will eventually lose a treasured friend. Each time a loved pet's time comes it never gets easier for me; and with their passing it underscores my own mortality. Yet despite the grief I keep going out to do it again. Their unconditional love is unquestionably worth the pain upon their demise. I'll say a prayer for you and Langniappe. May he have many many more days to bless you with his love.

  2. Oh God... I'm so sorry to hear this.

    We sign on for heartbreak when we share our lives with dogs, and the parting never gets easier. Still, I can't imagine life without their companionship. No way, no how.

    I'm relieved at least to know that your buddy has time left, and there's one thing I know with clear moral certainty: he's in the best of hands.

    You will both be in our thoughts.

  3. Dammit, that's just not fair...but it never is, is it? I hope you have many more evenings together on the deck. Give the old man all the love you can, both for him and for you.

  4. Every day is a treasure. I know you will cherish and make the most of every minute you have left with your friend. True friends are hard to come by in this world. He's lucky to have you, and you, him.

  5. Oh I'm so sorry! I really hate to hear this. He's such a sweet boy.

  6. Oh I am so terribly sad for you.
    I will say a prayer for you both that he stays happy and healthy for as long as possible.
    My heart goes out to you both. I know from reading your blog over the years that he is like a child to you.

    Just make his time left the best like you always do and remember sometimes dogs live a LOT longer than the doctors can ever forecast.

    Here's a long distance *hug* from a stranger...pass it on to Lagniappe for me.

  7. Sorry to hear this. He is blessed that you rescued him and it sounds like he has blessed you back. Hope you have a lot more days together.

  8. So sorry... That just sucks, but I know you will do everything you can. It WILL be losing a member of the family when he goes, but know that you and he shared many good times

  9. Anonymous6:57 PM

    After reading this I have tears in my eyes.May Lagniappes days be long and painless.

  10. Thanks everyone. He had a pretty good day today--we went swimming and then he got a dish of ice cream after dinner, so he's a happy dog as he's lying out on the deck, drying.

    And I'm proud to report that today at least, he jumped up into the truck like a champ.

    He has good days and not-so-good days...just like his buddy.

  11. Anonymous7:32 PM

    We are sorry to hear Lagniappe has this disease.

    It always means a laugh to come here and read his latest escapades and compare him to our first dog, Ezra. They were similar in their naughtiness. Our new dog, Duke is similar to Lagniappe too, only his favorite toy is a bunny.

    They say pets are good therapy for us and Duke helps to take my mind off the pain. Of course having a 70+ pound dog jumping on you doesn't always feel good but then they give you that "what's wrong?" look and all is well.

    My girls told me they saw some hedgehog toys the other day and immediately thought of you and Lagniappe.

    All our best to you both.

  12. You guys hang in there. Trooper and I are with you in spirit. There's still a lot of life to be lived.

  13. So sorry to hear that.

  14. I'm so sorry your buddy is in trouble. There's nothing on the face of this Earth like a good dog.

  15. I was very sad to read this and it brought tears to my eyes as well. I can't add anything more profound than what has been said before me on this issue, other than I wish you both well.

  16. Very sorry to hear this. My veterinarian better half says that it might be worth looking into "Class IV laser therapy" as a way of helping to relieve his symptoms. (I believe it's ordinarily used to relieve joint pain) Lemme know if I can help locate a vet near you that has one of these laser things, apparently they're fairly new and may not be all over the place yet.
    Best wishes and hope Lagniappe stays as well as possible.

  17. I was so sorry to read this today! Now and then Ranger will drag a paw on a walk and my mind cannot help but run to this possibility. Maybe he's tired, I tell myself.

    Lagniappe has many, many good days left with you, of course. And even when those legs are less than useful he can have a cart to run with. But I am so damned sorry to know you'll be coping with this one day.

    Enjoy these good days and know he has had an amazing life because of your patient kindness.