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Good Dog, Bad Day

There are still more good days than bad. There are even some real great days– but nothing makes me sad like when Cash is having a bad day.

IMG_1367At 12 and 1/2, Cash is still mighty healthy for a Boxer, his age. Of course, he’s not as active as he once was- he’s slimmed down and sleeps more than he’s awake. Yet, true to the breed, he still has those ‘puppy moments’ that never cease to make me smile.

Some days his legs don’t work so good. When Belle, our 1 year old Boxer, is overly playful; I sometimes have to play go-between. Even when Cash is in the mood to play, it’s still really easy for Belle to knock him on his butt. I don’t know what’s going through his head but he seems surprised, even a little embarrassed when it happens.

Sunday, 10/11/15 – Today was a good day. Yesterday felt like a really bad one. Cash had four pretty severe attacks of “reverse-sneezing” that I witnessed. There may have been more. At least I know now what it is. Knowing it’s not life-threatening doesn’t make the experience any easier. Especially when he’s gasping for breath, looking in your eyes. It’s heart-wrenching.

Just Breathe. A reverse sneeze isn’t actually that at all. I’m not sure how that term came about; but I can assure you that if you haven’t experienced it, witnessing it is far worse than is sounds. The medical term is paroxysmal respiration. When this happens, it is your dog trying to rapidly pull air into his nose. It sounds like something might be caught in his nose or throat and he’ll usually extend his neck and all his focus goes into trying to breath.

In everything I’ve read, doctors aren’t sure what the root cause is; but they suspect it could be allergy related and there is no treatment. These attacks also cause no ill or long term effects. Most often they can be brought on by stress or excitement or can happen when eating or drinking. These episodes can last from a few seconds up to a minute. Dogs act perfectly normal before and after it occurs.

The first couple times Cash had one of these attacks, I was afraid I was on the verge of losing him. It literally sounds like he’s choking or being strangled; wheezing and gasping for air.

I learned the best thing you can do is to keep your dog calm and gently rub his throat or briefly cover his nose to encourage him to swallow. This helps open the air passage and allows normal breathing to return.

IMG_0200Tired Legs. A couple weeks ago, while Belle and Dudley were away on a play day, Cash was having a weaker moment. I could see his legs were a little more stiff than usual but he was still managing to get around just fine. We went out side for awhile and when it came time to go back in, he just froze on the steps. Legs trembling, he stood there staring at me– waiting. So I scooped him up, all 80 plus pounds of him and carried him inside; for which he seemed grateful. A couple hours later, he was doing the stairs again like a champ.

I don’t pretend or assume I know what he’s feeling and I try not to act overly concerned– but I am. It’s funny, sometimes– trying to hide your feelings from your dog. But he knows. Most people don’t realize just how synced their pets are to their emotions.

Just like with people, there are good days and bad days. Aging is difficult for us all. The most important thing is to cherish every moment.

Wednesday, 10/14/15 – 4 am- Three days have gone by without another serious attack. For that I’m grateful. Hoping today will be another good day. My boy deserves it.

 

A Boy and His Dog

Last night as Cash climbed up on the bed, he did something he hasn’t done in a while.

He snuggled.

I don’t mean he laid against me– he does that every night, or, for at least part of the night. After he did his little spin around in circles, deciding where to land, he sat against my side and then inched his way down between Michael and I, until he was laying and his head was nuzzled against mine.

At first he lays with his shoulder on my arm and buries his face in my pillow. I wrap my other arm around him, snuggling until he eventually signals (shifting around) that I need to pull my arm out from under him so he can be truly comfortable. Then he takes a deep breath and sighs and falls asleep. I love that so much. He slept by me all night like that. Snoring softly next to my ear.

Cash was never a snuggler. Not much of a licker (kisser) either. That was always his sister Roxie’s job. Roxie would spend five minutes every night licking my face before digging in the blankets, flopping down and snuggling. Cash would just climb up on the bed and lay at my feet. It was the same thing every night.

And then Roxie died.

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Cash, October 2014

I’m not sure if it was out of his own grief and feeling of loss or maybe a need for a greater connection– but all of a sudden Cash was snuggling. For the first six weeks after Roxie died, he snuggled every single night.

Then little by little, he did it less often. Or, not for the whole night at least.

I miss it. Every night I hope he’ll snuggle– but now when he does, it’s even more special. It warms my heart and fills me to the brim with contentment.

Just a boy and his dog.

I never really knew Cash before Roxie died. He was always aloof, letting Roxie take all the attention. She never asked for it– she took it. Like Cash does now.

After Roxie was gone, we had a lot of time alone together– Cash and I. He followed me everywhere, never wanting to leave my side. That’s when I started trying to go to the gym or grocery shopping, only early morning, while he and Michael were still sleeping. I couldn’t bear the thought of him being in this house alone.

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Cash and I, May 2014

Whatever room I’m in– Cash is there. He helps me with whatever I’m doing. If I go outside, he wants to go outside. If it’s wet or cold– things he never particularly cared for before; he’d rather be outside with me, than inside by himself.

We bonded.

There’s something about the look in a dogs eyes when you really get to know them. I can tell when he’s happy, sleepy or distressed. He has good days and bad days, as do I; and we seem to be able to comfort each other.

Sometimes Cash will just sit and stare back– talking without words. Other times, he’s laying next to me, head in my lap.

We connected in a way I never expected we would. I couldn’t be more grateful for this time we’ve had to just– be. Co-exist. A boy and his dog.

It took a lot of thought and consideration before we were sure we wanted to try to bring home a furry companion for Cash. We weren’t sure he’d be able to handle the energy of a puppy; and were even less sure he’s be tolerant of a rescue dog’s baggage.

We took the risk with Belle and Dudley– and it’s worked. Cash get his exercise, playing with toys like he hasn’t done in years. He let’s Belle snuggle up against him while he sits as proud protector.

With the puppies, he seems to be pretty content to let them have the bulk of the attention; knowing he’ll have his time.

They have their crates– he gets the bed.

And we always find our moments throughout the day that it’s just he and I. I make sure of it. If for some reason I wait too long, he reminds me.

Maybe because it took so long to get here is what makes our bond so special.

I enjoy it. Love it. Treasure it.

A boy and his dog.