The Pupdate

This morning, around 1:30AM, my wife woke me up and thrust her iPhone into my face. “Look at this poop,” she actually really said. And there, on the screen — viewed blearily and gauzily through my sleep-shellacked eyes — was indeed a pile of canine diarrhea in the grass.

However, that word — “pile” — is notable here, because up until recently, what came out of our taco terrier’s Other End could best be described as “gray water.” And it’s been going on for months. Tai has IBD/colitis and maybe, just maybe, cancer. (Diagnostics on this are uncertain, and further tests would run us about two grand, and would tell us little as we would have no intention of running this almost-12-year-old dog through the rigors of chemo.) Her lower intestine was severely swollen and any attempts to do an end-run around the IBD with various novel proteins or special foods have failed. Worse, it’s been too little too late as the dog has been losing a lot of weight and vitality.

So much so that today we have, or rather, had, her on the schedule to be put to sleep.

We’ve now changed that appointment.

I know, it’s gross talking about DOG MESS, but last night her, erm, leavings looked genuinely improved after months of nothing. And this morning she went again, and that looked good, too. (“Good” being relative — I mean, it’s not ice cream we’re talking about.) Further, she had a bit more pep in her step today, and even (eagerly, without urging) climbed up the steps to join me in my office for the morning ritual of Both Dogs Conglomerating Around Me As I Work And Occasionally Ruining The Air Quality With A Foulness That Would Gag A Slaughterhouse Worker.

Our pup will not be put to sleep today. We moved the appointment to Tuesday (still at our home) to give her a few more days. Our last ditch effort was something I found online, not something vets had told me (and no, it’s not “collodial silver” or whatever other wizard reagents you might suggest). Some folks reported that the drug Atopica worked wonders with uncontrolled IBD, and curiously, Atopica had been a miracle drug for us and our little pooch before — early in her life, she basically had a list of skin allergies as long as Gandalf’s beard, and she was tearing herself apart. Atopica cut her allergies off at the knees and gave her a fairly normal life as a result — so, we’ve ramped up the Atopica once more. I put her on it last week, and it can take a week to show its effects. Hopefully what we’re seeing here is a glimpse of those effects.

Truthfully, this is probably still going where it’s always been going. And we wrestled with the decision of whether or not to prolong this for her — there comes a point when this gets cruel for the poor little dog. (And if she really takes a hard dip, we have an emergency vet nearby which can handle the very unpleasant task.) But at the same time, she seems a bit happier this morning, and she ate food last night (a miracle unto itself), and it feels like we can afford a few more days to see if this down-to-the-last-seconds-Hail-Mary actually does something. If it doesn’t, then Tuesday comes and she still goes, and that will be a very hard, very sad day.

But for this day, at least, our little taco terrier is still with us.


  • I could write a really long comment here about losing my Yorkie “girls,” August of 2012. I will say this – I hope everyone here thinks twice about buying jerky treats made in China.

    Like your situation, we had to make the “decision.” The one thing, if I’d ever prayed about anything, was to not have to do THAT. Yet, I did have to, and not once, but twice. Exactly three weeks apart. Bella and Kiwi…, how would my world go on without them? It has, but it’s never been the same, never will be. I have a new little guy now. Almost as if I had to do the opposite just to show I still love them and miss them. From two “girls,” to one “little guy.” And so it goes. Here’s to your little taco dog enjoying his time with his favorite humans. We love them so much, don’t we?

  • I had to make this decision last week about my old cat. He had been given a prognosis of 3-6 months two years ago. He had, instead, two mostly good years. I hand-fed him free-range chicken and high-grade ground beef that whole time. And no medications because they just made the poor old guy sick. He lived to be nearly 18.

    Making this decision is the hardest, most agonizing, and kindest thing a pet-owner/lover can do. Love your pup while you can, and give her the gentlest passage you can. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  • I’m deeply sorry it has come to this point. Though, sometimes, as I understand it there’s peppy/improved moments though that doesn’t necessarily mean healing completely. Just good days to break up the bad days. I learned that with our dog who we had to put down some months back. . . and it was a really hard, heartbreaking decision and experience. It wasn’t our first time having to make it as we had to put our cat down a good deal before that experience with the dog. It just wasn’t an easier than with the cat. All we could do in our grief was remind ourselves that making those hard decisions spared both animals anymore days of pain cause even when they seem lovey, and happy, they’re still in a good deal of pain — as a vet told us. Cherish these extra days you’ll get with your pup to remember later. My heart goes out to you and your wife and to little Tai.

  • Monday was my day. Mia was fourteen. The house seems so empty; and I didn’t realize how much time and energy I spent the worrying about her.
    On the other hand, my other dog is sucking up all the extra love, thrilled to be my one and only.

  • I’ve lost one beagle to a tumor and another beagle right now has epileptic seizures. You cannot put into words the anguish you feel when a pet is in pain. I know what you’re going through, man. I feel for you so much and I wish there was so much more I could do than typing these words. *hugs Chuck*

  • I’m so sad to hear that your dog has been ailing. A friend recently had to make the painful decision to put her own dog to sleep because of this condition. I’m an animal person too, and I’ve got an old dog who is doing as well as can be expected, but sooner than I’d like, it will be time to say goodbye. It can be oh so hard knowing when to make the big decision with a condition like this.

    I hope this drug continues to help her, and you have more quality time with your taco terrier.

  • Having been down this road many times myself, I just want to say that I know what you are all going through. It never gets easier.

    It is the bargain we make in exchange for their unconditional love. You’ll know when it’s time. She will tell you. And when the time comes, hold Tai close, bury your nose in her fur, kiss her and breathe deeply.

    Much love from someone you don’t know from the Man in the Moon.

  • Couple of thoughts Chuck…

    I read this and sat for a bit and then left my office and cuddled my Ruby and her pup Sookie (born Jun 30). I gave ‘em an extra dose of lovin’ and we headed to the kitchen for some cheese (I’m talking Cracker Barrel Old Cheddar here man) just… well, just ‘cuz one day I’ll be in your shoes, okay?

    I don’t know… I thought you’d like to know.

    You have a plethora of plodding Pen Monkeys here that are reaching out to you as you and your family endure this trial. You made this community of commenters here you know. This ain’t Des Torres’ blog; it’s yours, hombre. Each of us are trying to lift you up. Sixty some odd people, across this planet, ache in our hearts for you and that Taco Terrier.

    Joy shared is joy multiplied. Sorrow shared is sorrow divided.

    Blessings, and strength, and love surround you and yours amigo.
    Vaya con Dios.

  • October 18, 2014 at 4:50 PM // Reply

    I send my best wishes to you and your family, especially the ill four-legged member. I hope the Atopica works well for her. Our different-species-but-still-family members provide so much love, comfort, and happiness to us.
    Best wishes from Sharon and Pandaberry (my diva feline from the Critteraid animal shelter in Summerland, B.C. She is my pet therapist.)

  • People who say “it’s just a dog” don’t really have a clue, do they? Having lost both of my two beautiful yellow lab girls (the younger unexpectedly was diagnosed with multiple cancers at 6 years old; the older girl died from two massive strokes just four months later, she was 10 years old), and having gone through two very VERY difficult visits to the vet, I can say that I sincerely hope that your little taco terrier continues to miraculously improve, and if she doesn’t, well then hang in there Chuck, I’m thinking about you.

  • Poor little doggy. Our German Shepherd had a lot of skin issues and after he was diagnosed with perianal fistulae, he went on Atopica (as well as other stuff) and it did wonders for his skin and his backside. Hope your little furbaby keeps improving. Pets really are like family members and losing them is devastating 🙁

  • We dog lovers understand this well… putting off the ‘putting down’ for another day, wanting our pets to have a good day if possible. I’m glad your pooch is with you for yet another day and seems a bit happier. I hope you have many good days before you must part with her.

  • So sorry for all that you and your pup are going through. Even knowing that unsolicited advice is rarely appreciated, I find myself compelled to add to the conversation. I had a cat who had diarrhea for long 5 years. Seriously. He was different from your guy in that he was otherwise vigorous, but the watery messes and the smell got really bad. We tried everything the vet could think of, and finally tried raw pet food, which has probiotic things that the gut likes, and the diarrhea stopped altogether. It’s been years now of very satisfactory poop. Obviously changing food won’t heal a serious illness, but maybe it could give your pup’s digestive system a bit of a break. Maybe worth a discussion with your vet–my vet wouldn’t outright recommend trying raw food because of the lack of sterilization, etc., but it sure was a miracle cure for our Bailey. Best of luck to y’all, and I’m sending whatever prayers and good thoughts you’ll accept from a stranger. I’ll go back to lurking now.

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