L-Bo’s Dog Blog: Making Memories

On the morning of May 24 I walked the Woodford Wag 2K in Versailles, Kentucky. The dog walk and accompanying 5K run benefit the Woodford Humane Society. My walking partners were my senior rat terrier Zip and his wire fox terrier buddy Clever Trevor. We had a good time. We did not walk the fastest, but we, by no means, walked the slowest.

Most interesting to me is how much Zip relies on Trevor to walk with him and maintain a steady pace; otherwise, Zip can be stressed without his “goat” to keep him company. Have those of you with multiple dog households ever noticed how some of your dogs prefer to walk in company with another dog?

This was the second consecutive weekend that we three have participated in a walk to benefit a nearby humane society. Last weekend, we walked the one-mile Mutt Strut in support of Lexington Humane Society. The weather was cooler then so both dogs wore their horse blankets to keep warm.

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Both of my “geriatric” terriers are fairly active for their age. This does not come without a lot of vet care balanced with limited vaccines and careful attention to old dog diet. Trevor eats grain free because of problems associated with yeast overgrowth. I’ve taken that diet one step further and avoid feeding him any treats with sugar, an ingredient that often appears disguised as honey or cane molasses in the store-bought treats. Zip fares better if he eats a lower fat diet that is low in sodium on account of his congestive heart failure.

Since I last posted on my own blog some months ago, Zip had not been doing well after collapsing in the backyard the same evening I brought home Minnie Winnie’s ashes.  An aged Jack Russell rescue, Minnie Winnie possessed a gentle nature but tough spirit that allowed her to survive 11 months in remission from intestinal lymphoma.

The vet diagnosed Zip’s collapse as syncope related to congestive heart failure. I refused to face the reality that Zip and I might be near the end of our journey. Sadly, when Zip went back for his follow-up appointment at the clinic, I had to euthanize my 12-year-old dachshund Ginger after a second stroke left her paralyzed. This was seven weeks after Minnie Winnie had died.

Syncope occurs when the blood pressure drops and sufficient oxygen fails to reach the brain, so the animal faints. As I understand from my vet, the dog collapses and being flat allows the blood pressure to even out through the body so the dog recovers. It isn’t painful or stressful except for the distraught onlooker who can only kneel beside the still body and wait.

The vet prescribed some stronger heart medications which seemed to help but he continued to faint periodically. In April I was able to afford an echocardiogram which revealed that his heart while still enlarged was functioning better. Knowing the increased risk of anesthesia, I still elected to have the vet do a dental using sevoflurane on Zip. The procedure took less than half an hour and included the extraction of one rotted molar! Zip woke up quickly and recovered well.

I thought he was invincible. I felt very fortunate. I’ve tried to be thankful. When I got home this evening after dinner with friends, I took Zip and Trevor for what has become our routine walk around the block. Zip bounded playfully down the driveway alongside his “goat.” We got as far as the corner and Zip staggered. I immediately stopped, stepped on Trevor’s leash to keep him close, and helped Zip to lie down as I knelt beside him and begged once more to stay with me.

Zip did recover. I don’t know how many more walks we’ll have, but each one gives me another memory of time well spent with old dogs I love.

2 comments

  1. Thank you for your comment! My deepest sympathy to you and your wife on the loss of your rat terrier. I too am biased toward Rat Terriers and Zip truly is my heart dog in more ways than one! Watch for my next blog post coming in a few days to get an update on Zip! Cool weather is the CHF dog’s friend!

  2. I read your article about Zip. My wife and I had to put our baby boy rat terrier to sleep on June 14th due to syncope from his CHF. He lived to the ripe old age of 16 1/4 and was our life. My wife had him the whole time and I was with him for over 11 years. He was the best dog ever and we miss him very much. Your article sounded very familiar to our experience. I hope Zip is doing better and I believe Rat Terriers are great dogs.

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