Terii’s Cycling Babble

Here Comes A New Decade!
January 27, 2020, 7:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Seriously?! I forgot to hit PUBLISH?!

(Written January 1, 2020)

I have to say though, the last day of 2019 was an emotional roller coaster with dizzying lows.

As I’ve mentioned before, Loke has a pattern to his days at the moment. Most mornings, he’s sluggish, unstable. The past couple weeks, he’s taken to frequently bringing up his dinner, completely undigested after sitting in his tummy for 8 to 12 hours. It’s like his entire stomach and intestinal system slams shut sometime before he has the last meal of the day. This past week, his appetite might have taken a nose dive. He won’t eat his treats and often ignores his food, though he’s still interested in human food which he can’t have.

Jens wonders if it was simply just him being stubborn like he was between ages 9 months to 2 or 3 years. His own food (always dry kibble back then) would ALWAYS just sit in his dish for sometimes as long as 36 hours. Any time we’d eat though, he’d be there, staring holes through us and a puddle of drool around his feet, begging for what we had. It was bad enough that he weighed perhaps 40-45 lbs since I didn’t want to train Loke that he could have everything we did. I was determined he eat HIS food. Jens sometimes derailed that by breaking as this clearly was before we discovered Loke’s budding allergies.

It was bad enough at one point that the vet commented on how thin he was. I assured the vet, he had food available, he just wasn’t eating it. Later that visit, I caught one of the vet techs, offering Loke a piece of kibble on the sly, testing to see if I was a cruel woman starving my dog to death. Loke politely took the piece of dog food, looked at the tech with an offended expression and spat it on the floor. The very image of a starving dog, desperate for any food, yes? She caught me looking and gave me a sheepishly apologetic look.

The problem now of course, is that Loke absolutely cannot have anything we eat. That first time when he refused his own food only to desperately beg for ours, Jens could slip him something and he’d probably be alright. Now? It could well be a death sentence.

An additional problem with Loke leaving his food, even the soft food, in his dish, is he wasn’t getting his medication. The very critical medication that keeps him from having seizures and muscle pain. Jens suggested ‘making’ Loke take it. My answer was that he was welcome to do it, but reminded him that the last time I tried that, Loke curled a lip and snapped at me when I came near him. I refuse to turn my dog, who had never growled or snapped before, into an aggressive, defensive creature who fears my approach because I’m prying his mouth open to put a pill on the back of his tongue. It would be time to say goodbye before I do that. I was miserable and clearly he was miserable with being forced to take his meds twice a day.

So, my desperate and abruptly reasonable husband, urged me to go buy some deer meat, boil it, blitz it in the blender so I could water it down and mix the medication. I feared that as the last time Loke had deer meat (reindeer), he was in the hospital for most of the entire first week of 2019. Jens, reasonably, pointed out that he would rather risk giving Loke something tasty he likes and have to say goodbye to a mostly happy husky, then to watch Loke be so very, very hungry while also having his brain turn to goo from seizures.

I suddenly realized that I wasn’t going to have to fight Jens when it came time to say goodbye. Jens wasn’t going to be there wanting to keep Loke going because he didn’t want to let go. I didn’t have to worry about alienating him over this.

So, I got the meat. Instead of reindeer, moose, or roe deer, I picked up red deer meat. Loke’s had a lot of the first 3 over the years. I don’t know about how close the in type the allergy triggers between all of the deer types might be, but decided to go for what he’s has the least of.

Either, Loke has become a bit less allergic to deer over the year, or red deer is just different enough from the rest that it doesn’t seem to be triggering him. We’re keeping it in very low amounts. 2 table spoons of deer goo per meal. One scoop by itself in the bottom of his dish, well mixed with his medication. The other, spread through his kibble and soft food to encourage him to eat. The solo medicated scoop goes down quick. The mixed one has had mixed results.

So, most mornings, I’ve been fretful. Is it time for the final farewell? He’s not miserable, is he? Then sometime between lunch and 7 pm, this decrepit, fading husky is replaced by this bright-eyed creature, woofing at us, stomping his feet and pacing restlessly around as he seeks out stuff to get into, especially if it involves food. He’s even managed to get the pantry open a couple times. In short, he drives us CRAZY with all this energy and mischief.

So, yesterday morning, December 31st, Loke was his new ‘normal’ sluggish self. So I thought. I took him out for first morning walkies at about 7:30 am when Jens and he emerged from the bedroom. Something was off with him. He was even slower than normal and much more unstable.

He started out kinda okay, but slowed to an inching, barely moving pace in the first 50 yards. He kept stopping and was staring off in odd directions, not as if he was looking at something but as if he was lost or, just not there. He was often wobbling while do it. He was so unbalanced I didn’t want to pull the leash so I was trying to coax steps out of him. At one point, he managed to totter over to me and leaned against my leg before laying down on the sidewalk. It took a few minutes to get him back up as I wondered if I was going to carry him back to the apartment.

Then he threw up the previous night’s dinner, completely undigested, as he does about half the time any more. Combined with his weirdness and increased instability, it worried me so badly, tears started streaming down my cheeks. Somehow, we got back to the apartment without me dragging or carrying him. 200 yards took us almost 20 minutes. The worst he’s done since that fateful April-May of 2018 when his health crashed so badly I was hours from calling the vet to say goodbye.

I felt it was time to call the vet again as he flopped down on the floor, breathing laboured. New Year’s Eve day though, I guessed it was going to be hard to get through. Probably 1 vet working the whole hospital. It seemed best to call around 10 am and hope for the best.

I had hoped that when Loke’s time came, we could have done it at ‘our’ clinic. They know us there and they have a considerate set up for people who have to euthanize their pets. You can pay in advance and schedule a later time. When it comes, you call them to let them know and arrive with your pet. Instead of going in the usual way, there’s another area with another entrance so the animal doesn’t associate it so much with the vet. A quiet spot, secluded where you can be with your furry family member for those final moments. When it’s time to go, you don’t have to go through the crowded waiting room, grief stricken and teary to stand at the counter and pay. You can just go.

But our clinic is closed until Jan 2nd or 3rd.

I mixed up the deer gloop and Loke’s meds. When I offered it to him, he didn’t want to get up and eat. He’s never done that before. Sticking the bowl under his nose, he’d lick, but even when I moved it away, he just laid there, looking at me. Still, at least he took his meds.

Jens asked if I’d go get us Starbucks, promising he’d keep a close eye on Loke. I agreed and dragged myself out the door. As I drove there, my phone suddenly dinged with sent texts. My heart dropped into my stomach, convinced that it was Jens letting me know Loke had gone into a grand mal seizure or stopped breathing.

I don’t handle my phone when I drive and there wasn’t an easy spot to pull over to look. I had to wait the 2-3 minutes until I got to the mall parking.

Turned out, no. Loke was fine. Just a couple minutes after I’d left, he’d gotten up, started pacing, woofing at Jens and trying to get into the pantry. From halfway through death’s door back to our lovable pain in the butt who was apparently going to start the ‘good’ phase of his day much earlier than usual. He had even eaten about half of the scoop of kibble Jens gave him before going back to trying the pantry door again.

Out of all this with Loke, I swear, the up and down is the most gut wrenching.

Earlier in the week, I’d committed to going for a New Year’s Eve ride as well as a New Year’s Day ride even though I’d not ridden the trike since September 24th. The weather was supposed to be mild so it seemed likely I could bully myself out door in spite of the funk I’ve been in. Before I left for Starbucks, I’d posted on the trike group that it wasn’t likely to happen and why.

With Loke’s bounce though and the fact that the clouds had blown away and it had turned into a SPECTACULAR day for the first time in weeks, if a bit on the nippy side (38 F), I decided maybe I was in a good enough mood to go out even if just for a short ride. Even if I’d ridden very little this year what with my feelings about Loke’s decline and issues, I could at least see it out with a few miles.

As I started dragging on thermals, the now-bouncy Loke was abruptly in the way. Head on my leg, tail doing a cute little wag, and eyes becoming huge pools of puppy pleading. I was taken aback. Loke’s not done this kind of behavior in response to the cycle clothes in years! I honestly believed that they had lost their magic power over him. Yet, there he was.

Jens saw this and suggested I try taking him with me. Loke, the dog who just 3 hours or so before had been most of the way toward death. I had pretty much stopped taking Loke (and stopped riding) because in my mind, I’d retired him due to weakness and instability.

I agreed as long as Jens was willing to come get him the instant I thought Loke might need it. He agreed.

Loke seemed to like the idea. I picked upĀ  his harness and he came right over, helpfully putting his head through and lifting the proper foot to help get it on.

As we got out at the storage, I was a bit wary about Loke’s behavior. As we walked down the ramp, he was waaaaaay over by the far wall and laid down as I opened it. There he stayed as I aired up the neglected tires of the trike and got things settled. Once I pushed the trike out though, he heaved himself to his feet and ambled over to come stand at his running bar without the least bit of prompting. He gave me an expectant look and wagged his tail.

He needed a little help to get up the slope, but once at the top and I sat in the seat, he was wagging his tail.

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Even slow, this is nice to have him with.

We rolled out and he shuffled along at what I would say was a respectable speed for his age and ability. We crossed to the sidewalk where I typically ride in the grass to help Loke’s feet and give him lots of trees to sniff. He pretty much ignored said trees and wanted to move. A little further on, I had to get off the sidewalk and onto the street. Loke sped up into a kind of scuffling jog at just under 5 mph. I was impressed.

The jog didn’t last long, but it had been there. Even when he slowed and got a bit wobbly, he was still clearly happy to be out. After he’d done his ‘wild quarter mile’ as it were, then he was happy to stop and sniff. He was alert to his surroundings and taking interest.

As we continued on back toward the apartment on a 1 mile meander, I found myself abruptly feeling more peaceful about how things are with Loke. It’s gut wrenching, yes. Sad, yes. And yet, even after such a bad morning, here he was out doing what he loved doing for much of his life. A kind of serenity came with it.

Once I got Loke back home, I headed out for a few solo miles, planning to go out toward the grave mounds at Old Uppsala. The poor fuzzy was disappointed I was leaving without him, but he’d gotten quite tired. When we stopped at the light to wait to cross, he’d wobbled and leaned against the light post. I wasn’t gonna keep him going until he collapsed no matter how much he might want to go.

My solo ride ended up around 3 miles. Having ridden not at all since September 24th and not been to the gym since December 23rd, I was feeling a loss of conditioning. As I came to that 1 mile slight climb between home and the mounds, I slowed down. Throw in a 15-20 mph headwind and I was doing a ridiculously not-fast crawl through an area I’ve seen 100’s of times and I really didn’t feel like spending half an hour enduring it. The pretty weather couldn’t trump crap scenery and fathomless boredom. I turned around and took the trike back to storage. Roughly 4 miles for the day.