This morning I crawled out of bed at 5:15 in order to take Boscoe out for a pee. He had been drinking tons of water yesterday, and I figured he'd need to go out sooner rather than later. I was right; he peed for about 45 seconds straight, while toddling around aimlessly in the dark yard, and then I carried him back in and we both went back to bed.
It's a tough time right now for the Old Codge. Not feeling well, not eating, messing the kitchen in the middle of the night, falling over when I try to walk him or bathe him (and he has required frequent baths). Is he on the way out? It's hard not to think that, but the truth is we've thought this many times over the last year and each time he's rallied.
This time, I'm thinking, he probably needs another insulin adjustment. But it's complicated by the fact that his kidneys are starting to go. For diabetes he needs one diet; for kidney disease, a different one. And right now Boscoe is splitting the difference by refusing either. He won't eat kibble, he won't eat canned food, and he won't eat any of a multitude of doctor-approved-people foods, either: No to eggs. No to ground turkey. No to ground beef. No, even, to that reliable old stand-by, boiled chicken breast.
Yesterday for dinner, in desperation, I made him a grilled turkey with provolone sandwich, and tried to layer in as much kibble as possible; it only worked passably well (the kibble kind of fell out when I flipped the sandwich), and Riley watched, astounded and jealous. He took to darting in to grab whatever crumbs fell to the ground (mostly rejected kibble) and then darting back out again to watch, eyes huge.
This morning I opened up a can of Mary Kitchen Roast Beef Hash, which I fried in butter and laced with a cup of kibble. I used about half the can, and Boscoe ate about half of that, giving me the stink eye that clearly said, "I see this kibble. I know it's in there. And I'm not going to eat it." And he didn't.
On the other hand, he still has joy in his life. He toddles up for scratches. Doug lies down and cuddles with him every evening. Every now and then he surprises all of us by going into the play bow in front of Riley. (Riley kind of panics, and you know he's thinking, "That crazy old man is trying to play with me again!")
The mornings are the worst. I leave dire notes for the dog walker: "Boscoe wouldn't eat, and his back leg is very weak. On the morning walk it collapsed and he kept going in circles." But he rallies as the day goes on, and the dog walker leaves polite replies that make me feel like I am over-reacting: "He did great for me. We had a nice short walk."
This morning we put both boys in the Jeep and drove out to visit Mona and Patches. Riley and Patches raced around the yard for a good hour, and Boscoe joined in as best he could, barking merrily (or frantically, depending on your interpretation), prancing stiff-legged, occasionally falling. When he falls, his back legs slide under him so far that he's sitting on his tailbone, and he doesn't have enough muscle--or, really, any muscle--to get up, so we have to go over and hoist him up and pull his back legs back out and then he's able to stand again and toddle on his way.
If we are not around when he gets stuck, he has figured out that he needs to tip over on his side, which takes the pressure off his legs, and then he can move them and sort of rock and rock and, eventually, get back to his feet. It's painful to watch. But he is constantly adapting to his situation, and he does not seem depressed. (Though sometimes I think I see bewilderment in his eyes; like any oldster, I suspect he is thinking, "How did I get to this point?")
But he does have occasional joy. He had joy today. Between racing around, Riley and Patches took a little break and cuddled with Doug. Boscoe leaned heavily into Mona's legs and she petted him and petted him and petted him. That dog has always loved to be petted.
I am not going to try to look into the future; it does no good, and I am always wrong. I have wept over this dog a dozen times since last winter, and each time I thought he was dying, he has rallied. He may rally again. He will not be able to rally forever; he is, after all, a good three months into his seventeenth year.
Tonight I will feed him whatever he will eat--perhaps that leftover turkey burger that has been in the fridge for a couple of days, perhaps more of the roast beef hash (though it did not agree with his digestive system, I am afraid). And tomorrow I will get up when it is still dark and carry him outside so that he can relieve himself.
And as the day burns on, he will rally and, I hope, find some joy.