A few folks have inquired about Rita Mae’s health, so I thought I’d update you all.
Rita is doing well, for the most part, and seems to have stalled on her decline for the time being. She now has a permanent puppy pen set up in the dining room, lined with pee pads, and furnished with a fluffy dog bed, a food and water dish, and a little bear buddy for company. The pen is never used as punishment, and she often gets treats and “good puppies” when we put her back in so she thinks of her pen as a good place. And she sleeps a lot, so most of the time she’s in her pen, she is asleep, snoring away.
We keep her in the pen when we are otherwise occupied and unable to watch her, but she comes out in the morning when we get up, whenever I come upstairs for a break from work, and after work. We get her outside into the yard as much as possible (she is not an outside dog and has never been very fond of being outside longer than it takes her to do her business) and we encourage her to walk around the perimeter of the yard to stretch her legs, get fresh air, and get some exercise. (We tried a walk around the block but that proved to be too much for her.) She plods along slowly, but she manages a full lap before heading straight for the porch door.
Even while in the pen, she gets lots of pets and we always talk to her when we walk by. At night, she gets big hugs and kisses and a night time treat before we head to bed. She used to sleep in the room with us, but her bowel issues make that impossible now.
When we’re watching TV at night, we take her out and try to get her to sit with us and relax, but once she’s out of the pen, all she wants to do is compulsively wander around the house, circling it over and over again. So we let her wander a bit before putting her back in the pen.
I sincerely believe the pen comforts her. She used to love her crate, and would go in it even when we were home and she didn’t need to be in it. The pen seems to calm her, because she settles down into her bed quickly and goes to sleep when ever we put her back, and a few times, she’s walked over and stood by the pen waiting for us to put her back in it.
We tried doggy diapers, but it was very difficult to get them on her. She gets very agitated now, possibly out of confusion, as she doesn’t seem to know what’s going on most of the time. She twists and turns and cries, and even if we get them on her, she seems perturbed and almost refuses to move. She is already struggling so much, I don’t want to stress her out more by constantly putting diapers on her, so we have given up on it for now. We just place pee pads under her when she sits with us on the furniture as a precaution.
I did have a scare the other night, after getting up in the middle of the night to let Harvey out. I returned to bed, but before I fell asleep, I heard Rita fanning about her pen, so I got up to see if she needed to go out. Her water bowl was empty so I filled it and she drank the bowl dry, so I refilled it and she drank most of the second bowl, then immediately peed. Then she started drooling a bit (something she’s never done before) and she was shaking, so I took her out of the pen, wrapped her in a pee pad and blanket, and laid down on the sofa with her, petting her and trying to soother her with my voice and kisses. Honestly, I thought this was the end, and even once she finally drifted off to sleep, I really thought she might not wake up again. To my relief, she was awake again within the hour, so I took her outside, then put her back in her pen, and she went right to sleep and has seemed fine since. (Or, what passes for fine for her these days.)
She’s been a good and loving dog, and I am happy to continue to accommodate her as much as we are able.