My Dukealicious Dog is going on 9 this year and he isn't doing so well. Every time I look at him, he has a new lipoma and limps a little more. The Tramadol I give him for pain gives him the trots-and not in a good way: the dog isn't trotting, his gut is-all over my house. I vacillate about giving him his pain medication. If I do, he has an upset stomach and if I don't, he's in pain. Maybe we just need a new drug.
This has been the best dog I've ever had in my life. He is the sweetest beast and I had my concerns about a Doberman. They have such fierce reputations that I've found are completely undeserved. Duke has personality with a capital P. He is fiercely loyal and protective. At night, he routinely made the rounds of his pack in their rooms. If the door was closed, he'd knock with his paw or nose to come in and check. If you didn't let him check, he'd pace and knock until he won the battle. He wanted to know everyone was safe. This work ethic must have been part of his genetic code. When he was young, I couldn't even pee without him in attendance. Nowadays, he doesn't even get up to greet me when I come home and he no longer makes the rounds of the bedrooms at night. He has retired. I think just like my dying hospice patients, he mostly sleeps all day long. He still likes to eat and like any good girl of Arab descent, I believe eating and appetite are good cardinal signs. Despite this, he is thin and his legs have atrophied from disuse due to arthritis. It's so sad to watch his decline.
He has been the most correct judge of human intent and worthiness. For the most part, this judgement on his part has been toward my daughter's suitors. If the dog had an inkling that their character was flawed, or wanting, he'd growl and snarl until he intimidated the young men into leaving the house. Because he batted 1,000 in respect to ferreting out creeps, for years if my daughter found someone she was particularly fond of, she was afraid to bring him around for the final test with Duke. This dog's opinion was never wrong and he pretty much disliked them all. The last serious boyfriend she had was the exception. He never snarled and let the boyfriend pet him. He didn't just tolerate the young man, he liked him. This relationship went on for a year and we were all comfortable with things. I had visions of a fabulous wedding and grandchildren dancing in my head and then abruptly, Duke changed his mind about things. He sensed what the rest of us couldn't see. Two weeks later, the young man was out of our lives because his feelings had changed. Duke knew it first and when he first sensed it, he had snapped at him, almost snagging his ear. This was a rare behavior for my dog. He never bit anyone, but wanted to this time. Maybe he was hurt too.
Sometimes, the people he likes surprise me. He has a thing for Mr. Larger Than Life. I'm surprised only because MLTL doesn't like my dog. He barely tolerates Duke. To the dog, this is a challenge he has never turned down. He's made it his mission to make my father in law like him. I don't think it'll ever happen.
I'm feeling badly about my dog's suffering. When and where should I draw the line? When he can no longer get up? When he stops eating? How can I tell he has had enough and my forcing him to do things satisfies only me and not him? I've got to tell you, this one hurts. I know to some, he is just a dog, but to me, he is my companion and a part of my pack.