Thursday, August 5, 2010


Elvis is now on week 16 of his 2-3 week death sentence. The vet's office staff just shake their heads when I show up to refill his pain and anti-inflammatory meds now. I'm striving to give him quality of life, not just to prolong it. I know when Elvis is uncomfortable, but the good times are still outnumbering the bad. He is still on the lookout for squirrels, and still wants to chase balls, and still up for car rides. He is "tested" daily by my neighbor and myself when he is outside. We'll yell "Squirrel!" and off he goes! My neighbor and I will look at each other and agree that Elvis is not ready to go just yet.

Elvis and I were recently in the local Petco store. I was looking for Pill Pockets for his meds, as he tends to not want to eat the nasty-tasting pills. While we were there, a fellow shopper started admiring him, and asked if he were a rescue. As I explained the situation to her, she did something I've not seen anyone else do without instruction from me: she offered him her fist.

Let me explain. When you meet a strange dog, almost everyone wants to pet them. Not all dogs want to be touched by strangers, however. If you stick your hand out, fingers outstretched, the fingers might be mistaken for "snausages", and you run the risk of being bitten. If the dog tries to bite a fist, tho, there is little damage to the fist, and you can use the fist to shove further into the dog's mouth, forcing them to open wider, gag and let go.

When this lady offered Elvis her fist, he barked, then slowly stretched out to sniff it. Then this lady did something ELSE that no one else has done without prompting from me: she started scratching his chin instead of going for the top of his head. Many, if not most, dogs are very uncomfortable with strangers going for their heads, and you run the risk of a nip if you try. But a chin scratch is much more acceptable.

The gals at Petco love to see us when we stop by. They say it's wonderful to see Elvis doing so well despite his condition. He looks like he ate a xylophone with all his ribs sticking out, but he still goes on. My vet has said that people with cancer could learn from animals.

Recently a relative told me that I was being greedy keeping Elvis alive instead of putting him down when I told them about his breathing issues. That had me so incensed that I couldn't see straight!! When I got my emotions and fingers back under control, I sent them an email about him still chasing squirrels and playing ball. Then I let it drop. A week later we spent the day with them, and they got to see Elvis in person. THEN I was told I was right to do what I was doing. Now, they have dogs, and love their dogs, but they are just dogs. Just pets. Elvis has been the biggest pain ever to me!

While still a young dog, Elvis managed to sneak into my fenced garden while I was laying down slug bait. I heard a noise and turned around to see him slurping up the poison as fast as I was laying it down. Sigh. A trip to the pet hospital was taken immediately.

Elvis also was real bad about being carsick. I tried all sorts of things on him; Rescue Remedy and other things. When I interviewed a pet psychic as research for one of my manuscripts, she told me that Elvis had something wrong with his ears, so of course I took him to the vet. The vet could find nothing wrong with him then, so nothing could be done to help him. Eventually that did get better, but it took a few years.

Then we rescued Cocoa. Cocoa is a 3-legged Border Collie whose owner had end-stage emphysema and couldn't keep her. At that time both dogs were 3 years old, and when we brought Cocoa into our house, she immediately went after Elvis. Bloody fights ensued. While Cocoa loves people and does nothing but try to please them, she wasn't as fond of her new canine family.

At this time we had Elvis enrolled in a doggie day care two times a week. He was a digger, and the exercise, play and stimulation he got at the day care resulted in a lot less digging. When we got Cocoa, we just added her to the routine. After a few weeks we were asked to not bring Cocoa back. Seems she was "cutting" Elvis out of the dog packs, not letting him play with his canine buddies. Where Elvis was considered a social butterfly, Cocoa was the cutting horse.

Over the years Cocoa had settled down, but now that Elvis is so sick, Cocoa is back to her old tricks. If she feels Elvis is getting too much attention, she'll cut him out of whatever is going on and start a fight. So now I'm having to separate them, or take Elvis with me, which is not a hardship!

Elvis is still hanging on, still lying on the back deck and surveying all he protects from squirrels, and getting as much love and doggie treats from everyone as he can get! Death? Death who?


  1. What a gift that you have these extra weeks with Elvis! I'm sure you'll know when it's time, even though it won't be easy to let go.

  2. Life doesn't always follow the doctors schedule. :)