Will he get better?
We have had Spud for almost 2 years now. When we first heard about him, we knew he was grossly overweight and there was something going on with his back legs that made it difficult for him to walk. The photo we were sent by our friends in LA was too much, with his giant ears and tongue sticking out the left side of his mouth. As a special needs senior we knew he would be work. But we fell in love before we even met him.
Spud is lucky; I get to take him with me to my office every day. He gets to hang out with me, sleep in a heated bed, chill in the sun, and get exercise running around the office. Recently, I have started hearing “Will he ever get better?” again, this time from some new people in my office. Here is the thing, Spud is better. These new people might not be able to tell the difference, or know what it was like before.
One thing I am grateful that Spud has taught me is to do the best you can each and every day. Spud has debilitating arthritis, terrible luxating patellas (also called sticky knees) that make his legs contort and slide out from under him sometimes; his heart is enlarged and in the early stages of congestive heart failure; and in the last 8 or so months he has started having seizures for which he now gets expensive medication 3 times a day. At this point, Spud is as good as he will ever be. His joints are slowly being crippled by the damage already done to them, and the knees won’t get better without a surgery that would put more strain on his other already damaged joints. His heart will get larger and fill his lungs with fluids. He will eventually need medication for that too - medication that will eventually stop working as the progression of the heart disease gets worse. We don’t know for sure what is causing the seizures or how that disease will progress. But every day, Spud gets up and is ready for the day. He barks at me to wake up and give him his medication and the special treats that come with it. He barks at me for attention sometimes when he is feeling feisty. He tells the other dogs off when he thinks they need to be told. Every day he does the best he can for that day. Today I can tell is a hard day for him. His joints aren’t letting him move in the way he wants to move, but he is enjoying sleeping in the warm sun. He is making the best of the day today, here, and now. For Spud this is better. This is the best.
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Elizabeth Bylenga, Spud's Mom, is currently a Junior Trainer at Animal Sense and is working towards getting her CPDT while working a full time job and attending classes at CanineLink. Born in Chicago and raised in southwest Michigan, Elizabeth was called “Dr. Doolittle” by her parents growing up. Her intense love of animals and curiosity about how things work drew her to dog training. Elizabeth, her husband and three adopted dogs, from left to right: Spud (10yrs), Presley (3yrs), and Chiquita (6yrs) live in Chicago.