In Praise of Elder Dogs

This blog is created in celebration of the elder dogs, of any breed, who've touched our hearts. You are invited to add your own reflections, or, if you wish, track the progress of your own elder dogs. ("Elder," BTW, is defined here as 10 years or more, except in breeds known for shorter lifespans, such as the Great Dane.) Send your stories and photos to me at branta(at)

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Location: Hunt, Texas, United States

I've been privileged to share my life with five unforgettable Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. This blog was inspired by Cooper, my first, whose indominatable bright spirit triumphed over his limitations. Every day of his life, till the very end, he woke joyously, happy to greet the day. I would wish the same for all of us!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I SPOKE WITH OUR VET this morning. He says that what happened last night -- about 4 a.m., actually -- is what happened to Tessie months ago when she was boarding with them. Apparently she just keeled over and exhibited the behaviors described below. Two hours later, it happened again, but it hasn't happened since. He doesn't recommend putting her on medication yet because (1) it appears not to be a full-blown epileptic seizure, and there are other things that can cause what we saw early this morning and we should look at the whole picture before we medicate; (2) it's happened infrequently, rather than often.

November 26, 2005 - 4:30 a.m.
We woke to a roaring thunderstorm and to hearing Tessie, 12+, snoring more loudly than ever before. I went to her bed (on a rumpled chenille bedspread on the floor) and found that she'd lost urine and stool and was salivating, still snoring loudly, and staring into nowhere with her one funtional eye. The tip of her tongue was sticking out and her jaws were clenched so tightly I could not open her mouth, which was foamy with saliva.

I picked her up and laid her on a towel on her bed, where I talked to her and massaged her, calling her back from wherever she was. It took a few minutes for her to finally focus, to "come back" from wherever she'd gone neurologically.

She didn't want to stand, but after a few more minutes I placed her on the floor, standing, and she began to pace. Out of the bedroom to the front hall, where the tile is cool, pacing, pacing, never settling. Then into my tiled-floor bathroom, pacing, pacing, going round to the back of the toilet and staring briefly at the wall. I refilled her water dish, but she didn't want to drink.

She's still pacing. The more she walks, the steadier she becomes. But it's as if she's looking for something that cannot be found. She stops briefly to let me love her, but on she goes, pacing, pacing, on a neurological mission I cannot understand.

I don't know for how long Tessie endured her "episode" this morning. All I know is that more than 30 minutes have passed and she's still pacing. She has no history of thunderstorm anxiety. Her only seizure history I know anything about was several months ago, while she was boarding at the Vet's. She seized during the afternoon, and again two hours later. Nothing before or since, as far as I know -- though I am told dogs will sometimes experience seizures at night, and we never know it.


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