Every morning until daylight savings time ends on November 6 will be a little darker at the same minute. When I go to fetch Maggie from her bed in the garage, I turn on lights as I go, so the old dog will be able to see her way to the glass doors for pee time in the back yard. I’m afraid not to wake her at the same hour, because dogs have this internal clock, and now that we have established this routine, I don’t want her kidneys and bowels to wake up without me. Been there. Done that. Not a great way to start the morning.
And so I take Maggie’s Denimarin pill — supposedly chewable, but it smells yeasty and disgusting, like one of those old-style health food store vitamins. I break it in half, then wrap each half in a beef-flavored “pill pocket.” Then I go to the garage, turn on all the lights,greet Maggie and hold out the pills in offering. She is awake, stretched out with her head up, and regards me as if to say, “I’m pretty comfortable. Do we really have to do this now?” But in that stoic way of dogs, where they let you know that they think what you want them to do is stupid, but because they love you they will do it anyway, she struggles to get her back legs underneath her, steadies herself, and follows me outside into the semi-darkness onto the concrete patio. We are immediately enveloped in a light mist. Maggie loves water; hates rain. She turns around to go back in, but I have closed the glass door. I walk all the way out on the concrete past the swimming pool to encourage her. We are in this together, at least to the extent possible. She stands there, considers, then walks slowly out to where I am standing and then onto the grass and does her business. “Satisfied?”
By then, we’re both a little damp. She drinks some water from the bowl on the patio. This portion of the morning’s routine complete, we go back inside, where she carefully lowers herself to the soft mat in our work area, to wait for breakfast at 7:30.
Some good news here: Dr. Reynolds called me with Maggie’s first blood work results since the first one with those dangerously high liver enzyme numbers. Her ALT is way back down and is now within normal range. The AST is still slightly elevated, but is moving in the right direction. Maggie’s big problem right now is pain and lack of mobility. The docs feel like we can try an NSAID called Deramaxx. They are sending it directly to us from the veterinary supply house via UPS overnight. It should arrive today. We’re only getting a 7-day supply to start with. If there are no side effects (other than pain relief) then Li’l Brown Sugar should be in for some better days. We’re nervous, but a little hopeful.
One note on the cleverness of a smart dog like Maggie: she has become pill-wise and food-smart. I wrap her pills in a flavored “pill pocket.” They come in chicken, beef or salmon flavors. Maggie likes them. I noticed yesterday that she took a pill in her mouth, then spit it back out onto the patio, meticulously licked the pill clean of the flavored covering, and left the pill there. She looked at me. I looked at her. We had a stare-off. She finally picked up the pill and swallowed it. I won this battle, but she won the war on food. She apparently came to the conclusion that she wanted better-tasting food, something to make that dry, expensive stuff more palatable. So she went on a hunger strike for two days. I didn’t know if she just felt too poorly to eat, or if she was, well, playing me. Got my answer. I bought some little frou-frou dog meals in small containers that look and smell better than many of the meals I cook and mixed in a little bit with her dry food. Suddenly, tail up, nose sniffing, “Give me my dinner, hurry up, won’t you?” Loves it, she does. Now, at dinner time, we’re both smiling. That was one war I was very happy to lose.