I've really been trying to improve my mindset since Rocky's decline. It’s true that the grief doesn’t go away, you just learn to manage it. Say that to me a few weeks ago and I never would have believed it. The feeling I felt was so overwhelming. It felt like Rocky had already gone from our lives even though he's still here. Everything changed.
He can’t do any steps anymore, so he gets carried upstairs every morning whilst we have coffee in bed. He’s allowed on the bed now too ;)
He can’t jump up on the sofa or be left on it unattended, as he can’t jump down without falling.
It's taken him a couple of months but he’s learnt how to wee crouching instead of cocking his leg. We try not to laugh but we call it a “girly wee”. Every now and again we get a semi successful leg lift, but it unusually ends up in a topple. We celebrate if we remain on three legs!
He doesn't play with his toys anymore which is a strange one. I think maybe because he can't feel one side of his face he can't really hold anything in his mouth. The only toy he interacts with now is a cork. Yep, can’t tell which direction we’re in if we call him, but will appear at your feet within 5 seconds flat if you pop a cork. His toy shelf is a bit sad now as they are never touched but I can’t bring myself to move them…just in case.
I'm aware some of what I've written might sound like we're making light of the situation we're in. Trust me, we're not. We are learning to live in a new way, trying not to catastrophise, and trying to put out positive happy thoughts into the universe for Rocky.
Some of you might be worried about Rocky’s quality of life, or wondering why we’re pressing on. We’ve had a lot of discussion about this in our household, and with our vets. At first, it was unbearable to even mention a time when he won’t be with us anymore. I still busy myself if I end up realising thats going to happen in the not too distant future and I've cried more in the last few month then I have in years. But we are getting better at enjoying the time we have as I never want to waste that. We knew what we were doing when we took him on at 8 years old already, but nothing prepares you and you're never ready for it, especially when the decline is so fast.
We love our quirky little dog and he brings us unimaginable joy every day. There has never been a single time I’ve not been pumped to get up early, in the dark, in the rain, the freezing cold, and hang out with him. I’m excited to open the kitchen door every day. However, we are preparing ourselves for the inevitable and we would never want our love of having him with us to get in the way of his quality of life.
We do a questionnaire every couple of weeks to help us think rationally and realistically. You can easily find them online. As we’re with him every day it’s easy to miss small declines until they are much more noticeable, and we want to ensure we monitor him and don't get complacent. He's not going to get better. In general he is still getting a good score and we take the test separately so we don’t influence each other.
Dogs really are amazing. He's learnt to counteract his balance issues, understands what he can and can't manage now and I think his confidence has improved again after being initially very disorientated. Rocky still loves his food, drinks a healthy amount, loves sunbathing and wiggles his little tail every time is lead is presented to him. If he falls over he gets right back up and carries on. One of the positives in all this is he is miraculously no longer afraid of other dogs - in fact he now trots towards them with a spring in his step and a wag in his tail. No idea what that's all about but as long as he's happy I really don't care to question it. One very small silver lining I will gladly accept.
Here's a little snippet from our stroll the other day :)