When the Big Dog Can’t Get Off the Porch

 

Some of you may have read about how, during the Irma evacuation, Zeus became a celebrity at the hotel where we sheltered in place. Zeus is a 210-lb. Great Dane. Even other Great Dane owners utter, “Dude, that’s a big dog.” His chest has a breadth and depth that hint that Granny Dane may have had a dalliance with a mastiff. He’s gentle (mostly), loyal, and fearless. He may not be a good bomb dog or schutzhund, but if you were heading into clash with a shield wall, or chasing off the raiders harrying your cattle, he’d be your top pick.

He is very much my dog. When I go out on the deck to read or have a cigar, he comes out with me and suns. If the heat becomes too oppressive, he scratches on the door to go back in, but always, always settles where he can keep an eye on me. Despite the size of his breadbox-sized head, he’s got an itty-bitty brain. Not as trainable as my German Shepherd Dogs, but he usually intuits what I want and is remarkably obedient.

I mentioned that all the flight crews—okay, stewardesses—at our Irma evacuation hotel thought he was awesome. And I humbly accepted the mantle of “the Great Dane guy.”

But. During the course of our stay, he started having problems. He’d stumble walking on or off a curb. One time he walked headfirst into one of those waist high pilons one sees in front of buildings these days. What the hell, Buddy? I was worried he was having a series of strokes and losing it, a little bit.

All these occurrences happened at night. During the day, he seemed good to go. Until the day that he stumbled coming off a curb in broad daylight. I stopped him, had him sit, and gave him a good chest scratch/pet. And then I saw it. His one good eye had a cataract burgeoning in it.

For the last couple of years, he’s had a cataract in his left eye, that has expanded until he is effectively blind in that eye. I never got it treated because it doesn’t affect his quality of life, and he’s going to be 10 years old soon. Not thrilled about spending three grand on a medical procedure for a dog that should’ve dropped dead three to four years ago. Great Dane lifespans are usually only four to six years, because they’re so big, their hearts give out. My Dane would make Clifford the Big Red Dog lose bladder control, and he’s pushing 10. Go figure.

Now that both eyes are shot, I’ll spend the dough for the surgery. Not happily. Last coupla/three days I’ve been coaching him up: Okay, Buddy, massive heart attack in 3…2…1, and nothing. Dagnabbit.

Last Saturday night, Zeus fell off the jetty and into the bay. He loves walking out onto the jetty and putting his nose into the wind. He stands there with that big, mailbox-sized head pointed into the air, and I know from the expression on his ghost face that he’s in another place, that I have no chance of seeing, smelling, or sensing.

I was at a friend’s house, getting ready to grill some meat. My wife had gone home for some random reason (probably to pick up more wine). I received a frantic phone call, “Zeus fell off the jetty, get here now!” One of my daughters had taken the big fella out. Zeus was putting his nose into the wind, didn’t see the edge of the jetty, and fell in the freezing (thanks, Irma) water. My daughter immediately jumped in after him, but the shock of falling off the jetty, and his inability to trust his own senses had made him lock up. He wasn’t going nowhere for nobody. I got there, jumped in the water, and I got him calmed down. We were able to walk out. Usually, the water in the bay only goes three to four feet deep, so it wasn’t a crisis or anything. I had to speak soothingly to Zeus and maybe muscle him a little bit to get him headed in the right direction. Walking him to our boat ramp would’ve meant circumnavigating our jetty, so we walked him to the neighbor’s boat ramp and up. The daughter and I gave him a fresh water rinse (pro tip: Anything that goes into saltwater, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, gets a fresh water rinse immediately on coming back to dry land. Trust me on this.), then she escorted him inside. I took a fresh water rinse (in my case, shower vs. hose) and returned to our dinner engagement.

Serendipitously but scarily, our dinner engagement was with one of my wife’s best friends, who is the premier veterinarian ophthalmic surgeon in south Florida (I know, right?). I had been telling her about Zeus’s newest complication when I got the call that he’d fallen off the jetty. In the manner of doctors and vets that don’t want to but must deliver bad news, she said, “You know, there aren’t many good outcomes for dogs of his age and his weight and procedures requiring general anesthesia.”

Doesn’t matter, baby. He’s a war dog. He deserves his dignity. He can’t live like this. He’ll either pull through or he won’t.

Note: I’m writing this with no internet (thanks, Irma). If Zeus undergoes surgery before we get internet back, I’ll update this post. If he has the surgery after I get internet and post this this, I’ll write a new post.

There are 83 comments.

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  1. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Oh, that’s so sweet and so sad. Dogs are such beloved members of the family! We get them knowing that we will outlive them, but, still…Best of luck on the surgery.

    • #1
  2. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I’m very sorry to read this. I know how it is. My dog Pepper is 14 now, and she can’t get into the car by herself anymore. Her back legs shake too much and don’t work like they used to. I have to give her a boost. Her eyes are looking cloudy too. Pets don’t last long enough, and people last too long.

    • #2
  3. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    We are so vulnerable when it comes to our dogs.   It’s tough for me to even read about a beloved pet that is struggling.    Hang in there.  Sending all my good wishes that things turn out okay.

    • #3
  4. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Trink (View Comment):
    We are so vulnerable when it comes to our dogs. It’s tough for me to even read about a beloved pet that is struggling. Hang in there. Sending all my good wishes that things turn out okay.

    Thanks, Trink.

    • #4
  5. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Some people have a seeing-eye dog.  I’ve just become a seeing-eye human.

    • #5
  6. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Me ‘n my buddy.  For MASINT purposes, I was tipping the scales at/about 250 when this pic was taken.

    • #6
  7. CRD Inactive
    CRD
    @CRD

    Praying for Zeus’ surgery, and peace for you and your family!

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    If the little fellah needs a few prayers, you might consider posting a word or two here:

    http://ricochet.com/436557/divine-help-17-2/

    • #8
  9. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Boss Mongo: Now that both eyes are shot, I’ll spend the dough for the surgery. Not happily. Last coupla/three days I’ve been coaching him up: Okay, Buddy, massive heart attack in 3…2…1, and nothing. Dagnambit.

    Oh, I have so been there.  So many times.  Once, with my real “Buddy.”  By name and by nature.  Bless.

    My other mantra, when the first one doesn’t work is, “Okay, Buddy.  You don’t quit, I don’t quit.”  I try to live by that.  No matter how many legs my friend has.

    Hang in there.

     

    • #9
  10. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    She (View Comment):
    Hang in there.

    Wilco.  Ma’am.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The genius border collie was banished back to the farm where he was born (my uncle’s farm) after biting little Billy on the butt. Little Billy had it coming, but the GBC vanished from the farm one day without a trace. The semi beagle lost a fight with a semi of the trailer-tractor variety. The demented poodle grew old, arthritic, and finally blind. He passed before the decision to put him down had been finalized, a good dog to the last.

    I miss them all.

    • #11
  12. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Good luck and God bless you and Zeus.

    • #12
  13. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Best wishes for you and your little buddy Boss.

    • #13
  14. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Boss I have a solution. Get him a seeing eye dog. I am serious.  I have seen older blind dogs taken care of by a young dog.  I saw somewhere today a blind dog came in fifth in a sheep herding contest just using smell and hearing. Either way good luck with Zeus.I mourn 16 dogs, never gets easy.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Boss I have a solution. Get him a seeing eye dog. I am serious. I have seen older blind dogs taken care of by a young dog.

    I read a story about a pair like that recently.

    • #15
  16. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Praying for you, Zeus. You got this!

    • #16
  17. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3134591/The-blind-Jack-Russell-guide-dog-Pair-abandoned-pets-looking-new-home.html

    • #17
  18. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Prayers for both of you, Boss and Zeus!

    • #18
  19. Chuckles Thatcher
    Chuckles
    @Chuckles

    So sorry.  I don’t care how tough a man is, a dog like Zeus is a best friend and the bonds go deep.  Real deep.  When he hurts, you hurt.  I know and I’m sorry.

    • #19
  20. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Arahant (View Comment):
    If the little fellah needs a few prayers, you might consider posting a word or two here:

    http://ricochet.com/436557/divine-help-17-2/

    I’ll put up a special intention for Z-buddy and his pack…Done.  And a Panda Hug to share.  (I know I love my tripod/tri-ped Boxer, Babe, who’s 13, with all my heart.  Lifting yunz all up…) <3

    • #20
  21. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Oh, Zeus! It’ll be okay. That’s the great thing about being a dog; it’s pretty much love from beginning to end, and more love beyond.

    • #21
  22. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    You’ve taken good care of him. He’s a beautiful dog.

    My daughter used to be a veterinarian’s assistant at a rehab hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Sherman used to help animals from all over the country recover from all kinds of problems. My daughter used to get into the swimming pool with the dogs to help them get better. She would help them learn how to use carts if their back legs were in pain. She gave a lot of massages to help them. She and Dr. Sherman got tremendous results. It was incredible to watch her.

    She is now a veterinarian, and she is helping the practice she is working in start up a full rehab unit. It’s very exciting.

    Good luck.

     

    • #22
  23. Mole-eye Inactive
    Mole-eye
    @Moleeye

    Prayers and best wishes to you and Zeus.

    Zeus, I had the lenses replaced in both eyes.   Piece of cake, big boy.

    • #23
  24. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    Prayers for you and Zeus.

    • #24
  25. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    Man he is mean looking beast. Good thing his dog seems nice.  Praying for all of you, and I’ll add a candle for you all today.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Ah, Boss, so sorry to hear of Zeus’ dilemma. Here’s a prayer for his surgery and recovery.

    One of my hospice patients had two dogs; one was a party-colored Dane. She was a sweetheart (thus my teasing you about Danes) and easy to get to mind. I just had to keep an eye on where she was going: if we both moved in the same direction at the same time, she would have unintentionally taken me out.

    Anyway, best to all of you and fingers crossed.

    • #26
  27. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    Oh, Zeus! It’ll be okay. That’s the great thing about being a dog; it’s pretty much love from beginning to end, and more love beyond.

    Aw geez, and I made it this far without losing it.

    Isn’t that what all our lives should be like…love from beginning to end, and more beyond.

    • #27
  28. dajoho Member
    dajoho
    @dajoho

    “premier veterinarian ophthalmic surgeon” – that’s a thing?

    “Massive heart attack in 3,2,1″…didn’t work huh?  Maybe it’s the mailbox size head with the vast amount of space within.

    Or maybe he’s lived 10 years because of love.  He is in a house he loves, surrounded by people he loves who love him back not despite of who he is but because of who he is (with a despite thrown in here an there).  I’ve seen the pictures of him on the couch, 210 pounds of cute all up in your lap (I’m sure it’s a special feeling when he gets you with a 50 pound paw or an exceptionally sharp elbow in the pelvic region as he settles in next to you).

    I look forward to hearing about the successful outcome.

    Prayers out for all of you.

    • #28
  29. dajoho Member
    dajoho
    @dajoho

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Me ‘n my buddy. For MASINT purposes, I was tipping the scales at/about 250 when this pic was taken.

    uuuhhhh, who’s calling who a mailbox head?

    • #29
  30. JcTPatriot Inactive
    JcTPatriot
    @JcTPatriot

    My dang dusty house is bothering my eyes again, can’t stop wiping them.

    Hang in there, Zeus! You too, Boss family!

    • #30

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