Pet finds place in columnist’s heart

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

The way our society cares for animals, especially our pets, is maybe a sign we’ve become highly evolved. Or maybe we’re just crazy.

I’m by no means an animal rights activist or anything like that. I grew up on a farm and I know where that hamburger came from. I’ve hunted game both big and small so I’m not squeamish about animals dying. But I’ve got a soft spot for my own pets.

My wife and I have spent the couple of weeks worried about our oldest dog, a chow and golden retriever mix. He started having trouble standing up and moving around. Then he quit eating and eventually his head turned sideways and he couldn’t stand up at all.

I hoped it was some kind of ear infection, but I feared the worst as I loaded him up to go to the vet. We’ve had him 11 years and knew he was at least two years old when we adopted him, so he is no spring chicken.

The vet examined him and said while it could be an ear infection it was probably a stroke or some other neurological problem. At first they had trouble getting him to eat and he still wasn’t getting up after a good, stiff, round of steroids.

The vet urged us to give him some time and so we left him with her through the Thanksgiving weekend but feared that if he couldn’t get up and around we were going to need to put him to sleep. It made for a less than festive holiday.

Early this week a call to the vet confirmed that he had continued to improve over the 11 days he spent at the animal hospital and he could come home if we were ready to take extra care with him.

Still not sure, I went down to get him and was happy to see him come down the hall pulling at the leash. His head was still cocked over and he was thin but he looked pretty good.

When we first brought him home he walked like a drunken sailor and fell down on occasion. He completely avoided tile floors which was
OK, because it meant one less dog underfoot in the kitchen.

He’s improved rapidly this past week and it looks like bringing him home was the right decision.

I’ve had lots of dogs, and by marriage a few cats, over the years and losing them through death or straying off is an awful thing. One particularly old dog who died several years ago we mourned almost like a family member. I felt a little guilty about that but it was a fact.

I hadn’t been too attached to our current aging canine until the last few years. Early in his life with us, he stood off and never would take to any affection and he didn’t really care if he was with us or not. The last few years he has begun to demand more attention. Since he’s been home from the vet’s he follows me from room to room in a stagger with his head cocked.

He’s under the desk at my feet as I write this. It’s going to be hard when he eventually dies but for now I’m just glad he’s comfortable and doing well. Hopefully that doesn’t require that I send a donation to PETA.