I used to say I liked dogs more than people and on some days that is true. Dogs always greet you when you walk in the door, wag their tail and are happy to see you; people not so much. Dog are appreciative to have a home and be fed and played with; people not so much. Dogs are always there to listen and not give their opinion; people not so much! I have been a dog lover since I was about 7 and I got my first dog Dryphus. I don't think any dog can reach the status Dryphus did in my heart. He was a HUGE dog, but so loving and protective. Dryphus lived 13 years, a very long time for a Boxer and when he died it was one of the most emotionally devastating times of my life. Dryphus was a rock in our lives always there and I still miss him.
About 2 years after Dryphus died I was in college, Frank and I had been dating about a year and we got Duncan. He was our first Fur baby. Don't get me wrong things were not always rosy. Duncan peed on my bed almost every day, cried when we left him in his kennel and was difficult to potty train. But after we got through the first year he was a GREAT dog. We have so many memories with him, like when Frank let him fall out of the cart at Petsmart and trying to get "family" photos taken with him, taking Duncan camping and to the park. Everyone loves Duncan, partly because he is a Boxer and people love Boxers, but also he has this sweet dumbness about him!
When I say Duncan has been a great dog I mean truly a great dog. One night when lily was about 18months, Frank and I had gone to bed for the night and closed the door. Duncan was crying at the door, after telling him to go away for about 5 minutes Frank got up to see what he wanted. When Frank opened our bedroom door he was meet with a wall of smoke. Our dishwasher had caught on fire. I ran up to get Lily, thankfully everyone was fine and there was minimal damage to the house, but I always wonder what would have been if it wasn't for Duncan. In the past few years Duncan has been company to me when I am home with the kids, he always alerts me when the kids are doing something that is not safe. He really is a great dog.
About a year ago Duncan started having problems eating. Every time he would eat he would regurgitate his food. He lost a lot of weight and we decided a trip to the vet was needed. They did xrays to find he has Mega esophagus. This means his Esophagus (the tube that carries food to his tummy) does not constrict and take the food from his mouth to his tummy, it just sits in his esophagus. We found a homemade diet that sort of worked, but it was better than anything we had tried. Last week Duncan found some raisins (which are toxic to dogs) and began vomiting, when this was happening he aspirated some of the vomit into his lungs and developed Pneumonia. He was in the hospital for the weekend on nebulizer treatments, oxygen and antibiotics as well as IV fluids. He come home on Saturday night and was still very sick. Frank and I discussed at what point do we say this is enough and let him go. Over the next few days Duncan improved, we have found a food that is working great. He gets spoon fed 3 times a day and then has to be held upright for 20 minutes following being fed. We are working up to 20 minutes (he is not crazy about this) we are at 10 minutes now. He is on 5 different meds and hopefully when we go back to the vet next week his lungs will be clear. Life with a dog with Mega esophagus is very difficult, they could aspirate at any time, Duncan has problems with water so I make him gelatin out of chicken broth and water. This is similar to what a stroke patient would get so they don't aspirate. We have already decided that we will give Duncan the best care he can get at home, but we are not putting him though further testing, treatment or hospitalization. Some dogs live their whole lives with this disorder, some don't make it through their first bout with Pneumonia.
We have prayed that we will not have to make the decision to put him to sleep, I know it would be very difficult and I would carry a lot of guilt from it. We hope when the time comes Duncan can go peacefully and not in any discomfort. He has been such a great dog to our family and I know we Will never be able to replace him.