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nickyp

Emmylou's Thread

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nickyp   

Our darling Emmylou (my avatar) is coming to the end of her road. I thought I'd start a thread here for her to see if anyone has any suggestions to make her path a little easier.

Em had been slowing down a lot over the last few months and eating less. I suspected that her arthritis was worsening, or maybe her teeth had worn down too much and were tender (she was a compulsive chewer in her youth), but put off taking her to the vet because she never seemed really sick, just a little slower and more tired. And she was still stealing the cats' food every chance she got. She turned 14 at the start of this year and was never a dog to live life in the slow lane, so we assumed she was just wearing out.

On the 10th of April I took her to the vet because she was due for a cartrophen shot and took the opportunity to talk the vet about the changes I'd observed. They took some blood and got back to me later in the day to say that her white blood cell was high and kidney and liver enzymes (I think) were off. They asked for a wee sample which we duly dropped of later in the day. They called back pretty quickly to say that Em had a bad kidney infection and would need a six week course of antibiotics, which we picked up.

The next day, as luck would have it, I was admitted to hospital with an infected gall bladder, which had to be removed and I was there for six days. While I was gone OH tried to give Em her medication, but she refused it almost all the time and ate very little. When I came home last Friday I managed to get her to eat a bit and take some of her meds, but not enough.

She went back to the vet on Tuesday for an ultrasound and it was decided that they would keep her to give her iv fluids and injectable antibiotics and get her eating again. They also did a biopsy of her liver. Today she started eating again and her urine sample shows that the kidney infection has gone, however the biopsy showed changes in her liver consistent with a bile duct or gall bladder tumour which has spread.

So our girl is coming home this afternoon for however long we have left because I would rather have her here with us for any time - even a day - than have her never leave hospital. I don't want to prolong her life, but I want to make whatever time she still has as comfortable and pleasant as I can.

I've never had this luxury - to spend some time knowing the end is near - before. Our other dog, Indiana, became very ill very suddenly and we had to make the decision to PTS quite quickly and the dogs I had when I was younger also died suddenly. I'm open to any suggestions to make Em more comfortable.

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CHA   

Hugs to you. Its hard. Enjoy your time together, they are so precious. I hope she has many good days left, it is a privilege to go through this with our oldies xxx

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Oh hugs nickyp, it is such a hard thing to go through.

Tess always slept on my bed so I'd never really got proper 'dog' beds, but then she started having joint problems and when she couldn't get up on the bed anymore I managed to get a couple of foam mattresses off gumtree which became her bed, she had blankets and everything needed to keep her warm and her joints & poor old bones off the floor. The last few weeks she slept nearly all the time, so I used to lug those bluddy things through the house - from the bedroom to the lounge to be with me when I was home, out to the kitchen when I was cooking, back to the lounge, and then into my bedroom at night.

She had tummy troubles, and could only eat certain things, so I was spending more time cooking up her meals than I did for myself. I reckon her food looked more appetising than mine as well :laugh:

I'd spend hours out in the front garden with her, as she loved lying in the sunshine and watching all the kids & people go past. I'd sit there with a book (and a glass of wine) and just sit with her, patting her head and talking to her. Who cares if I froze, and my backside got numb !

I spent as much time with her as I could. If that meant turning down social events, then I turned them down. leave work early to catch 30 mins in the garden? Yep, stuff work ! Do the housework or anything else that actually needed doing or sit on the sofa with her head on my lap? The house was a tip - so much so I wouldn't let people actually come in I was so embarrassed by it.

That kind of sounds like a list of complaints, but it's not. What I mean is, you do whatever you can to make them comfortable, and happy, for as long as you can, regardless of what inconvenience it puts you to.

Take it a day at a time. Spend as much time with her as you can. Focus on the little things that make you both happy - even if it's a potter to the front gate for a pee and a sniff.

Keep an eye on Emmylou's eyes, they will tell you all you need to know.

Hugs to you both

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Our darling Emmylou (my avatar) is coming to the end of her road. I thought I'd start a thread here for her to see if anyone has any suggestions to make her path a little easier.

I have grit in my eyes to read this, nicky. It's an honour you have been given to be the guardian of Emmylou as she prepares to cross over.

First point I make is to be kind to yourself, and allow the tears along with the laughter. Dog willing, Emmylou will have days of simply being a dearly loved puppy with her Momma. ( Age means nothing frankly.) These are the times to revisit, in your heart & head what made Emmylou so precious you chose her for a life together.

Be aware of the chances of pain. Be in contact with your Vet for what to do. Unless diet precludes what Emmylou can eat, then food should be frquent & easy for her to manage. Stuff like being comfortable needs to be checked. Boundaries are not needed now.

Take the moment, not the day, if you get what I mean. On Tibor's last Saturday, he dive bombed the puppy to grab 2 wee pieces of dried liver off the floor. It was a triumph for the dear old boy.

With our bonds, our Darlings give us love even when.....

I send you both much LOVE & gentle cyberhugs.

:heart::flower::heart:

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Are you still convalescing from your op? If you are, my only suggestion is that you spend a lot of time lying around with Emmylou. Even if it means just putting a mattress on the lounge floor or wherever you watch tv or dvds. She will probably pick up a little now that you are home and spending time with her. She will be getting very tired and will be content just to be able to snooze near you.

I hope you are looking after yourself as well. :flower:

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nickyp I'm in a similar boat with Mac - and he's happiest when I feed him really tasty meals so he can smell them and I make time to spend with him. I'm also fanatical about his pain relief - I make absolutely sure its a good routine and is well controlled. I find that makes a huge difference to him.

And treasure every moment - and take as many photos as you can (Mac's pretty sick of having a camera in his face already!) smile.gif

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nickyp   

Thank you all for your thoughts. And, yes DDD, I am still convalescing. I'm on the couch with Em on her bed near my feet. She loves attention and pats, but doesn't really like anyone lying close to her.

Fortunately she doesn't seem to be in any pain, just very tired and lacking in appetite. She did eat a small breakfast of yucky cheap tinned food this morning and tried to steal the cats' food, which is a good sign. She's still finishing her antibiotics for her kidney infection and I managed to get one into her hidden in a piece of my ham and cheese sandwich - people food is almost never refused. As long as she's eating and I can get medication into her, we'll keep going.

The kids have a curriculum day today, so are home from school and I explained what is happening to Em to them. They were very upset. My daughter, in usual form, is very angry that there isn't some medicine that can fix her and spent a lot of time raging about how unfair it is. She's 8 and my son is 11, so they've known Em all their lives. Although we lost other pets who they'd always known too, Em is particularly special to them. She's always been tolerant and loving towards them and has been their mate.

It's interesting watching our other pets. Zelda, our 16 year old cat, doesn't really engage with anything that goes on in the house these days, but last night she came in and gave Em's head a thorough sniffing and a bit of lick - that's never happened before. Cricket, our other dog, cleans Em's head and ears every couple of hours, but hasn't tried to engage Em in play, which is unusual. And Panther, our kitten, is sleeping with Em today. As I said above, Em doesn't like anyone lying close to her and has tried to push Panther away a couple of times, but Panther just ends up closer to her each time. Here's a pic of them I took earlier:

post-336-0-05333200-1429851492_thumb.jpg

They're closer together now.

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I speak from my own experience of having a pack.

I recall that mine were especially kind and gentle when there was illness around.

My feelings is the behaviour gets picked up by the humans? At least I choose to think that.

Ongoing HUGS to all of you. Your family, including all the animals is very close knit.

:heart:

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That is a beautiful photograph, nickyp. Hugs to you and your children and all the other animals. It seems like caring for Emmylou during this time will be a family affair. :heart::heart:

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nickyp   

Em is eating tiny, tiny amounts, which is better than nothing, but I really don't think it's enough to keep her going. It seems like she can only manage 3 or 4 mouthfuls at a time. She seems less well today than yesterday and has barely moved off her bed all day. She didn't get up to greet a visitor this afternoon and isn't interested in barking at the dog over the back fence when Cricket does.

Fortunately I've improved a lot in the last 24 hours, so I can start to do more around the house and get to making some special meals for her. There's a chook in the freezer that I'll defrost tonight and roast tomorrow. The meat can go in the fridge for sandwiches and for Em and I'll boil the bones to make some bone broth.

I'm studying full time and have to go back to classes on Monday after missing two weeks, but I really don't want to leave her. OH will tell me I'm silly because she just sleeps all the time, but I don't like the idea of her being alone if she feels unwell.

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I'm studying full time and have to go back to classes on Monday after missing two weeks, but I really don't want to leave her. OH will tell me I'm silly because she just sleeps all the time, but I don't like the idea of her being alone if she feels unwell.

If you have absolutely no choice but to go back to classes, perhaps you could find someone to stay in your house through the day: a friend, relative, or even another student who doesn't have classes, but can study through the day.

Another thought (although this would be disruptive and possibly could be painful and distressing for Emmylou), perhaps take her each day to your vet for the day.

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nickyp   

There is one class I have to attend tomorrow morning because it's the last class for the subject and I'll have to repeat if I don't go. I'd be away from home for 5 hours at most and I think Em would be OK if I was away for that long. That said, I went out with OH and the kids to do some grocery shopping this morning and drove for the first time in 3 weeks and I'm not sure if I'm up to going back to classes at all...

We can see that Em is fading daily. This morning OH had to help her back up the 3 steps to the verandah after she'd been out for a wee. I can't help feeling that we're down to days before we have to make the big decision. OH has - correctly - encourage me not to get ahead of myself, so I'm focusing on now as much as I can. I roasted a chicken this morning. The bones are in the slow cooker, becoming bone broth, and in a moment I'll get some of the meat, hide Em's antibiotic in it and see if I can convince her to eat it.

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Tassie   

:( It's a very hard time. Reading what you've written, you're doing everything you can for Emmylou - and sounds like OH is helping you to take care of yourself too.

Reading what you said about the children - particularly your daughter - I was wondering if it would be a good time to start her on a memories book for dear Emmylou - collecting treasured photos from puppyhood on, maybe writing little stories of when they were both younger , and maybe thinking about scrapbooking it.

Thoughts are with you.

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nickyp   

Yesterday SIL came to visit. She is one of Em's favourite people and the feeling is mutual. Usually Em would climb into her lap and spend the entire visit cuddling with her, but yesterday Em barely acknowledged her. I almost cried looking at SIL's face as she watched Em and I could see her coming to terms with what she was seeing.

Em doesn't want to move for any reason. She has to be coaxed to get up and go to the toilet and is very wobbly on her feet. She will have a drink when she goes outside, but has only eaten 3 small pieces of roast chicken today. Everything else I've offered, including the bone broth, has been refused. I put her up on the couch so I could cuddle her earlier and she insisted on getting back down onto her bed. There are times when she lies there with her eyes open wide and I wonder what happening for her - is she in pain, or frightened?

I'm going to talk to OH tonight about when to let her go. I think it will be by the end of the week.

I've decided that I'm going to buy Em a big, showy rose bush to put her ashes under. Something with either a strong scent or really bright flowers. Something really attention grabbing to remind of her.

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I've decided that I'm going to buy Em a big, showy rose bush to put her ashes under. Something with either a strong scent or really bright flowers. Something really attention grabbing to remind of her.

Just wonderful. I have roses for mine. In fact this year, I am planting the 2015 Anzac Rose for Tibor. ( he left us in December).

http://www.treloarroses.com.au/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=55

I will be thinking of you all during the time ahead & sending love & prayers.

:heart:

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