We have two beagles. Ender is 15 and 1/2 (she’ll be 16 on 7/7) and has been by my side since she was three months old and I was cluelessly floundering through my early adulthood. Adrian just came to us in August and turned two on January 1st.
Our ladies have great personalities. Ender still thinks she is a puppy most of the time, and even after a walk, she can usually run circles around the rest of us. Adrian is the cuddliest dog I’ve ever known, she just constantly wants to be touched and petted. She’s still a puppy sometimes, but mostly she’s a well-behaved lady.
Not only do our ladies have wildly different personalities, they also have different needs. Adrian is easy… her food, her schedule, her quirks, they’re all pretty standard.
Ender on the other hand, as she gets older, everything becomes more of a production. She has special, prescription food, so I have to make sure she’s eating that and not Adrian’s food or anything else that tastes better. She has a daily pill regiment (thank God for peanut butter). She has a very specific, every time she wakes and gets active bathroom schedule. And she’s getting older in her joints (arthritic knees), her eyes (cataracts), her ears (or maybe just progressive selective hearing), and her kidneys and bladder.
It was in November that Ender got diagnosed with failing kidneys. She’s been on prescription food and a weekly liquid IV regiment since. That was when I realized my baby was really a senior dog. Her cataracts I shrugged off, because she doesn’t let that slow her. Her knees I shrugged off, because she still jumps steps and curbs like a champ. Even the piddling problems, I feel awful doing it, but baby diapers were the best decision we could have made there. They barely faze her anymore.
But kidney problems. I know they’ll only get worse.
So when she starting shaking and panting and pacing and wanting to go out every ten minutes on Saturday afternoon, I started to worry. Saturday afternoon and all night she wanted to constantly go out. She didn’t sleep much and neither did I. Thankfully our vet in open seven days a week. I called them as soon as they opened at 8am. They couldn’t see her until 2:30pm. So I had all day to fret.
We took the ladies for a walk and in fifteen minutes, Ender peed eight or more times. The last few times were just blood.
The reasonable half of me said, “It’s just a bladder infection. We’ll get her checked out, get some antibiotics, and everything will be fine.” The mommy of a senior dog part of me whispered nefariously, “What if it’s something more serious with her kidneys?”
Every time I take Ender to the vet, I prepare myself for the worst.
Luckily, it was just an infection. She’s on antibiotics now, and she’s back to her feisty self.
But every vet trip is a new anxiety attack. One of these times it won’t be a bladder infection. It won’t be something we can fix with a pill regiment or some special food. One of these times it will permanently destroy the high quality of life I’ve worked so hard to maintain for her all these years.
I love my baby girl and she’s worth it, but this is what I’ve come to accept as the mommy of a senior dog.