Take a Break

This story is heavy going. Why not take a break and have a look at this very cool picture? It is a composite MRI of the entirety of our dog, True. He started having some very strange neurological symptoms, and weakness in his legs as well, early in 2001, which his doctor thought might indicate a brain tumor. When they didn’t find a tumor in his brain, they just kept going down the spine looking for what was causing the leg problems, and, pretty soon, we had an MRI of the inside of the entire dog.

Pretty neat, eh? And cheap, too, compared to what it would cost to scan an entire person -- $1,400, including general anesthesia and recovery for a 13-year-old dog. Same MRI machine, though, with readings by a doggie orthopedist and a doggie neurologist. They still don’t know why he walks in circles to the left, but that’s okay. After some more tests, his doctors decided that all of that staring off into space and circling meant he was just really senile, and didn’t even have serious joint deterioration. We finally figured out that he had Lyme disease, and after a 4-week course of antibiotics that were so cheap my breeder sent them to us for free, his "arthritis" was gone, too.

A doggie cognition-enhancing drug, Anipryl, which is sort of like the Aricept I take now for my head injury, is helping him a lot. But there are still some very comic moments. For example, he is so senile now that he has forgotten that the cat hates him. We had her for two years before we got him as an adult, and she has never forgiven him. He grew up in a household with cats, and adored her, but every time he approached her, she would hiss and slice at his nose with her front claws. Eventually, he stopped approaching her. But now, he has forgotten all of this, and just trots right up to her whenever she enters a room, sniffing her head and her butt. She, in turn, is so much older now herself, that she can’t be bothered to repel him. So she just freezes where she stands, with an irritable and outraged experesssion, and lets him sniff her. Just looking at the expression on her face is priceless. Last week he licked her, and she was so surprised, she just stood there.

True was my boon companion for 12 years, keeping me company while I worked, sniffing out the trails when we hiked, and scaring off dubious strangers. He accompanied me on the trip to California when I spent a week alone, cleaning out my mother’s house after she died. We don’t feel bad about keeping him with us, because, even though his housetraining is not perfect anymore, and his vision, hearing, and thinking are not so good, he is happy and comfortable. I also don’t mind cooking for him occasionally -- bread pudding made with Ensure and Science Diet ND is his favorite -- because for 12 years, all he ate was scientific kibble and water, with the occasional vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone in the summer.

He especially likes to ride in the car now. He can’t walk as far as he used to, but he still enjoys a slow ramble around the neighborhood, and hanging out in the yard. He sleeps quite a bit these days, but still manages to keep me company, as you can see from the photo below.

Ready to continue?