The title of this post might be more amusing than the circumstances that led to writing of this post. You may know from my blog, Facebook, or Instagram that my German Shepherd just turned 13 at the end of August. This was quite a momentous occasion for me because our last German Shepherd, Boomer, didn’t quite make it to his 10th birthday before degenerative myelopathy made his life miserable and we had to put him down. Dante is now a very slow walker and naps frequently but still seems content to be with us. I’m definitely in the icing-on-the-cake phase with him.
I recently went for a two week trip with my mother to Portugal. It was hard leaving Dante but the rest of my family was here, and my dad flew up from San Diego just to be there for his grand-dog, who he loves. I was gone a week when I got a text from my husband to call him. When I did, I got the news that Dante couldn’t get up. He was able to get up and walk Sunday morning but by early Sunday afternoon, he couldn’t. By the time I called my husband around 1pm Monday, it had been 24 hours since he’d gotten up. It appeared he had a stroke because of the way he was acting (heavy breathing, and glancing strangely at everything, head tilted) and the fact he couldn’t get up. This was huge shock to me because I had texted on Sunday morning (California time) and all was well. Now, all was not well. None of us wanted Dante to suffer, so the horrible decision was made to have a vet friend come at 5 pm that evening (1am in Portugal) to put him down.
You can only imagine how I felt being so far away from my best boy. I just couldn’t believe it. I had planned to be there for him in the end, just like I was for Boomer. Luckily my 14 year old daughter was home from school that day and I was able to face-time all afternoon and into the evening and be a part of what was happening there, even if Dante may not have known it.
My dad was able to get Dante outside during the afternoon by holding up Dante’s back end. It was a beautiful sunny day and Dante rested on the grass smelling the breeze and taking in all the love from my three kids, dad, and husband. It was very teary, sweet, strange, and horrible. At one point Dante actually got up, and I wondered what that was all about. Then, at 5 pm, the vet arrived and we all felt sick. Upon seeing strangers walk into the yard, Dante got up to check them out. Almost immediately the vet said, “this looks like vestibular disease“. “V” what? He explained it was a condition affecting balance, like vertigo, the effects of which would lessen over the coming days. We were all so shocked. Here we were prepared to say goodbye to him and now it seemed we didn’t have to. It honestly took me an hour to process this. I went to bed at 2am feeling a whole lot better. The rest of my trip was a mixed bag because I was in beautiful Portugal with my mother and all I wanted to do was go home.
You’ll be happy to know that 2 weeks after his episode, Dante is walking like he was before – slowly, but still walking. I know our time together has to come to an end eventually, and I wait for that sign from him that he’s ready to go. But for now, I am treasuring his lovely presence and his big brown eyes. And he’s back out in the studio helping me make my dog breed pottery – by which I mean that he’s supervising my progress from his studio bed….in between naps.
Since Dante’s episode with vestibular disease, I’ve learned of two people I know well who’s pets have had this same condition, and one them had it around the same time as Dante. So it must not be that uncommon but it was sure a new one on me.
Wishing you and your pets much health and love.