January 2011: Growing older with Ike

My dog is old. I like to think he’s the oldest yellow lab in the state of Wyoming. I can’t prove that. He’s thirteen and a half years old. I can’t prove that either, but it’s the closest estimate we can make based on memories of how long he’s been around.

Ike’s favorite activities used to include chasing a ball, going for walks, chasing a ball, finding sticks in the yard to carry around, chasing a ball, chewing up the sticks he found in the yard after he carried them around, and chasing a ball. Usually followed by chasing a ball. Again.

In his old age and general geriatric state, he doesn’t get around well. His hindquarters are held together by nothing more than sinew and tendons these days, and when x-rayed his joints are just a cloud of arthritis. More than one vet has expressed amazement that Ike can even walk. So his activities these days mostly involve sniffing at sticks, wiping his drool on my pants, shedding, and pooping.

Ike poops a lot. The older he gets, the more frequently he has to do his business. I can relate in a way; when I turned 40 I realized that while I had been born with my father’s features, I’d also gotten my grandmother’s bladder.

Unfortunately, the older Ike’s gotten, the less he seems to be aware of the fact that he poops. He still asks to go outside to take care of matters. Sometimes. Sometimes though, he seems just as surprised as I am when he suddenly poops in the house. When he’s sleeping, all bets are off. Unlike me, he is completely unaware of the smell.

Around the house, we’ve come to refer to these events as “laying a brown egg” or “leaving a trail.” There are times, however, when we energetically refer to them as “#$%@! What the #$%@! did I just step in?!”

Ike doesn’t care. Heck, he’s not even aware of it most of the time, unless he wants to go back to his bed and suddenly realizes that there’s something there that he’d rather not sleep in. Ike used to sleep with me in my bed, until one night I rolled over and suddenly realized there was something there that I’d rather not sleep in. Unfortunately, I was.

This discovery was made when I semi-consciously realized I was laying on something lumpy, semi-consciously dug it out from under my back, and semi-consciously held it to my face to try to see what it was. I may have even semi-consciously sniffed it. Thankfully, I was fully conscious and aware of what it was before investigating further by tasting it.

After a 3:00 a.m. shower and change of sheets, Ike was firmly, yet sadly, informed that he would no longer be allowed to sleep with me on my bed. It was really just as well; it had been a long time since he could get up there by himself anyway. We compromised and agreed that he could still join me on the couch while I watch TV. Granted, he needs help getting his hind legs up there, but then gets to spend some quality time with me. Shedding. But so far, no surprise brown eggs.

My dog is very old. My dog poops a lot. My dog is fiercely loyal and loving; I return that and accept him as he is, drool and all. I just carry a flashlight when I walk around at night and very carefully watch where I step to avoid anymore #$%@! nighttime surprises.

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