Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lagniappe update

My friend doesn't walk very good these days. The Degenerative Myleopathy is progressing fast. His hind legs aren't responding well any more and he sways and staggers like he's drunk.

Actually that's not true. I've seen him drunk and this is worse. He stumbles and falls constantly and every trip down the stairs is a nail-biter as I watch to see if he's going to go head-over-heels down the steps. His rear paws drag so severely that even a short walk on concrete will bloody the tops of them, so he's restricted to the house and the deck and his run in the yard now. No more walks around the neighborhood like we've enjoyed almost every day for so long. On his birthday last week I took him to Harpers Ferry for an ice cream cone at the Swiss Miss shop, and it was all he could do to make the short walk from the parking area to the store. And when we got there he wasn't able to stand up on his hind legs and look in the window like he's always done. He tried hard because he wanted his ice cream so bad but he just kept falling over because his once-powerful hind legs won't support him any more. Afterwards, we sat and I saw the people way up on the scenic overlook on Maryland Heights. Lagniappe and I have hiked up there dozens of times just to enjoy the view. It was a powerful milestone in my own rehab just a few years ago and Lagniappe helped motivate me to make that climb by making it look so easy. That overlook might as well be on the moon now, because we'll never make it up there together again.

But he's not down. Sure, he gets a bit moody sometimes, like when he tries to jump up on something and misses, or when he has an accident in the house, something that happens fairly often now that his nervous system is shutting down. But most other times he's still cheery and playful. He still walks up and gives me licks, and tonight he brought me his hedgehog and we played a bit of fetch with it. He still tries.

It's pathetic in a way; between the two of us we have three good legs. He helped me come back from my injury, but there's nothing I can do to help him. He's going to keep deteriorating and I know that I'm not going to have him much longer.

So we don't walk together any more. Now we sit on the deck together. I read books while he lays beside me and stares off into the yard, perhaps wondering why he can't run down there and chase cats and drive off the occasional stray dog any more. Sometimes I shell peanuts from a bag and give him half of them. He loves peanuts. And popcorn. He loves popcorn and we're going to share a bag tonight. He loves ice cream too, of course. Now he gets some almost every night. Why not? It is so wrong to indulge a friend and try to make him happy? And he is happy. His tail doesn't wag any more because those nerves are gone too now, but I can still see the light in his eyes when I talk to him and scratch his special sweet spot on his chest. He knows that I'm going to be here for him as much as I can for as long as we have, and he's not going to go through this alone. When I took this dog in eight years ago, I promised him that I'd always love him and care for him no matter what. I meant that then and I mean it now, and I believe that he knows it.

Our time together is growing short, but we're still a team. Friends forever.


  1. Anonymous11:23 PM

    I am sorry to hear this.
    God bless you for th care you are giving Lagniappe.

  2. This brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry. Oh how I wish this wasn't so. He's such a beautiful boy.

  3. Sorry to hear his condition is worsening. Old age had the same effects on our 16 year old black lab, and I had to let her go a couple months ago. I know exactly how you feel.

  4. More than the creatures who try to intellectualize everything, perhaps he understands that sitting on the porch sharing peanuts and popcorn is pretty darn nice.

  5. Sorry man. I really am. Keep being his friend. Good thoughts for both of ou.

  6. I am so sorry that this is happening...
    For Lagniappe and for you..
    ((((Lagniappe's daddy))))

  7. What a lovely tribute to you both. I am so sorry you and he have to go through this, but I can't think of a better person Lagniappe could have on his side.

  8. I'm so Sorry... Thank you for standing by him.

  9. I'm so sorry. He's definitely blessed to have you and you to have him.

  10. Our dog Teddy, a sort of mixed Manchester Terrier, who was so gung ho to get in the car and loved to bark at cows, died of liver cancer.

    It was tough when I had to go to the vet to put him down as he was so sick, day in and day out. And yes I buried him myself.

    But you know, I could not let him keep suffering just so I could see him.

    Take Lagniappe with you where you go as much as you can, but when the time comes the time comes. Don't drag it out for your benefit, do what is right for him.

  11. I lost my dog a year ago and I still cry when I think about her. She was rescued by some firemen almost an hour away. Through a friend, we got word of her. Our doberman had just passed and we weren't looking for another dog yet, but we've always loved dobie's, and we brought her home christmas morning.

    That dog was my buddy. We'd play tag around the coffee table, she'd talk to us (popping her jaws silently), etc. I had to nurse her back to health when a pitbull came into my yard and attacked her. 3 months after the attack, she bloated up and died 2 days later as the vet was hooking up the EKG.

    Enjoy every moment you get with Lagniappe. I know you don't want to see him struggle, but enjoy every single thing you can possibly do with him for as much time as you can. He seems to be a pretty bright boy. You'll know when it's time to say goodbye.

  12. I am sorry my friend. All the support and kind words you've given me and Trooper I return to you. It was hard, at the end, but not the hardest thing. I'll remember Trooper as the dog he was before he started to fade. I will treasure the gifts he gave me and try hard to live up to his example. I know that Lagniappe loves you and trusts you and you have been worthy of that love and trust. His life could have been so different if not for you and Lagniappe knows it.
    When the time comes it will be a mercy and the last gift you can give him. I take solace in that. Our tears are only a measure of our ability to love.
    Trooper will show Lagniappe where all the best swimming holes are while they wait for you and I.
    Lu and I send you and Lagniappe our thoughts, our prayers and our love.

  13. It is an impossible thing for me to consider with the two mad dogs under the roof. I have no idea how you are managing.

    I assume Lagniappe would not benefit from one of those rear end carts? I do not believe in prolonging pain but if mobility can be had with moderate discomfort? Och, well - I am sure you've already considered it.

    I am simply terrible sorry for you both and hope these sunset days are good.

  14. Anonymous5:27 PM

    I'm sorry that Lagniappe is worse. It brings back memories of when we lost Ezra. We had him for nearly 12 years.

    We now have another dog that is spoiled rotten. We treasure every moment with him.

    Give Lagniappe a hug for us.

  15. You can use a towel under his hindquarters to help him walk to the bathroom. I also used a flat moving dolly on wheels to move our dog from room to room when she just couldn't walk anymore, but wanted company. I feel for you!

  16. I read an article about a sweet girl named Lucy that has lost the use of her back legs. She just climbed Mt. Washington with her owner, and it is amazing the resiliency of dogs. I wonder if a comtraption like hers would work for Lagniappe?