A year in the life of our Miss Riley

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

It is INSANELY humid here right now. You almost have to push through a wall of humidity when you leave the house — and Miss Riley has to be coaxed to do it. In general, when she pants these days, it either means pain, heat, thirst, or have to go. Sometimes all four. Today she didn’t move from in front of her little fan, unless she absolutely HAD to go out, and she held it for as long as she could each time, the increase in panting clueing me in.

But at least she only had to go out to go out. I had to attend two virtual meetings today outside, sitting in the meager shade of the back stoop with my laptop and phone, because of all the renovation noise inside. I was completely drenched just sitting still.

Summer: it’s not for elderly black Labs or their middle-aged redheaded servants.


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Sometimes It Pays to Be Old & Deaf

Today was the trifecta of noise on the home front: our bathroom renovation started, the house across the street (my office faces it) is being renovated, and neighbors down the street were murdering trees with a giant wood chipper. At one point, our little street was like a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road with all the trucks battling for space.

Riley? Slept through it all:


Our workers fussed over her, as is her royal due, when they arrived, and then later when she woke up, she relocated to the dining room, where she could look up the steps and see what the guys were doing.


Little Steps

Today, Riley ate both meals, had no accidents in the house all day, and went on her usual round down to the woods and then around the house with a mostly steady gait. I’m pleased and I know she is too.


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Bowl Lickin’ Good

Wednesday, Riley decided she was So Over Eggs. The problem with having a super-intelligent dog like Riley is you can only fool her once. Wednesday when she didn’t want the eggs, I sprinkled them with parmesan and she gobbled them up. The same with the dry kibble she was turning her nose up at. Thursday, it was all “That again? Puhleeze. I’m onto you, lady.”

I pulled out my last reserve: canned food. She’s never had it. I kept within her preferred brand, Nature’s Variety, and got the lowest fat, highest fiber one I could find so it hopefully wouldn’t aggravate her colitis. I popped the top and held it up to her to see what her reaction was — she lunged for it and if I hadn’t been quick, she would have gulped the tin top down. OK, so Princess Miss Riley approved. I gave her a couple spoonfuls and she inhaled it. I mixed a couple more spoonfuls in with the rejected kibble, and suddenly it was all delicious.

I stuck with only half the can, waited two hours to see if there would be any digestive pyrotechnics, then, much to her relief, gave her the rest, also mixed with kibble.

The poo hit the fan around 2.30 this morning. Fortunately, outside. I pumped her full of Kaopectate and gave her extra metronidazole for good measure. This afternoon, I gave her only 3 tablespoons of the canned with her kibble…and it happened again. Inside. Tomorrow, I think we’ll give her only a little less canned, but mixed with the high-fiber kibble she rejected before, which might help her form back up again.

It’s a delicate balancing act between what will keep her digestive issues at bay and what she will actually EAT.

Om nom nom

Om nom nom

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Savor Every Moment

I haven’t talked about it much here, but Riley hasn’t been doing so well lately. Though she’s eating, she’s not eating as much, she can’t get up on her own 9 times out of 10, and she falls a lot more because she can’t place her feet right.

This morning, I thought she was a lot closer to the light. She woke me struggling to get up, and when I got her outside, she staggered around, then back inside, she flopped down on the floor and wasn’t very responsive. What scared me the most is that I gave her ear a scritch and she didn’t lean into my hand.

I coaxed her into having an egg, and a little while later she joined me in my office — all on her own. She got progressively more responsive as the day went on — oh, she still needed help, and she had a few falls, but she sought out water and food on her own and came to me for affection. She even walked to the end of the driveway and back — twice today. It’s entirely possible that she just took not being a morning person to extremes. My husband spends more mornings with her than I do (not being a morning person myself!) and he says she can be like that. I don’t know if it’s just that or a sign of decline, but she scared the living daylights out of me this morning.

I accepted a long time  ago that we wouldn’t have Riley forever, and that for all that I still call her Puppy-Girl, she is old. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog — to savor all the time with her that I could. So that’s why here, you’ll see only the good — I may slip up every now and then, but I want to celebrate the good things. No mourning without cause, no wasted time.

Riley is snoozing peacefully beside me now. I’ll take it.


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Days Like These…

…nobody told me. Everyone always talks about puppies and growing pains; the tribulations of elderly dogs? Not so much. Either that, or I just wasn’t looking for it until now, when I’m right in the middle of it.

Yesterday, I came home to discover Riley had an accident while we were at work (thank goodness for quilts). My day today started with the same thing, along with a lot of unsteadiness on her feet — I had to bring her egg to her in the den. Tonight was a little better — I got her almost to the door before an accident happened, and she ate her egg, then moved on to her regular food…and finished it.

I have a working theory in two parts about her issues: 1, I think she’s in more pain, so I upped her Rimadyl dose, and 2, I think her food issues aren’t appetite-related, but taste-related. Yesterday, I dropped an unsalted sweet potato chip and before I could even think of the five-second rule, she snapped it up and followed me, wanting more. Hence, the egg idea. I have a friend who makes her dogs’ food, and she’s going to share some recipes with me — I figure I can adjust the ingredients to work around her colitis.

Yeah, nobody told me there’d be days like these, but one look at her?


It’s totally worth it.


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The (Almost) Incredible, (Mostly) Edible Egg

Since Riley is definitely turning her nose up at her food more and more, my husband and I are trying to figure out what other foods she can safely have. First thing we thought of: scrambled eggs. During her prolonged bout of colitis in the winter, eggs kept her going (the rice, not so much). So today I scrambled her an egg to see what she would do. While I was making it and telling her it was for her, she went bananas.

Then *I* got cocky, and I mixed the cooked egg in with her rejected food. Her enthusiasm cooled along with the egg, until I started (sigh) hand-feeding it to her again, and then she got the idea that the egg was mixed in. She ate most of it, but still walked away before it was all gone; I took the bowl in to her in the den and hand-fed her the rest. Tomorrow morning, I’ll try a solo egg.


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May 31, 2015

My yo-yo dog. She ignores breakfast, then devours dinner. Then she ignores both, and then won’t eat unless I feed her by hand. Then she dives into her food bowl headfirst. Lather, rinse, repeat — but not in order, because there’s no pattern to it. Because of her restricted diet, I’m not sure what to tempt her with. It’s not a total disinterest in food like Xander developed, just sporadic. Even so, my heart clutches every time.



Rough Day

Riley-girl is off her food again. She’s been weird about it lately, not wanting food in the morning, but then actively seeking it out in the evening. As long as she was eating, we didn’t care what time it was. But tonight, I only managed to get her to eat by sitting down with her and feeding her by hand. On the plus side, I got her to eat everything. For now, I’m focusing on that positive. Tomorrow, I’ll call the vet.



I Think I’ll Just Stay Here

Riley came out to the sunporch today to get a little attention. While I was rubbing her ears, her hind legs went out from under her. It was at least a gentle sprawl, and she decided to stay for a while. I think that was best.


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