Sleek is fading away. It began years ago with a little frost on the muzzle. Then her feet started looking lighter in color. Her stomach began to have trouble with food that previously hadn't bothered her. If she ran and played really hard one day, she'd be stiff the next. She could no longer jump into my arms. About 3 years ago, I began to see the beginnings of clouds in her eyes. Off leash, she began to walk within 20 feet of me instead of 200 yards.
Two years ago the vets began to mention a heart murmur. She stopped being interested in chasing the ball after years of knocking other dogs out of the way if they got to the ball first. A year ago I took her to the cardiologists at OSU. They confirmed the murmur but said it wasn't bad, just watch for changes in exercise tolerance and coughing.
Over the past few weeks, Sleek's hearing has gotten really bad. For a long time I've thought it was fading, although it's been hard to tell physical hearing loss from psychological hearing loss ("Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't hear you say not to chase those deer...."). Now even a high-pitched "Sleeeeeeeek!!!!!" seems to be genuinely hit or miss. We had a tornado in town a week or so ago. We were nowhere near it, but I heard some odd thunder or thunder-like noises. Sleek didn't react. In the past, she has reacted when she heard thunder on the radio, so this was big.
I wonder what it is like for her. Does she know her hearing is going? Does she ever think about how quiet her world has gotten? Does she wonder what happened to the noises? She'll look at me sometimes when I'm talking to her while I fix the dogs' food. Her ears are up, she looks alert, but her ears are not moving as my intonations change. On the other hand, she's not cocking her head to the side like she's trying to understand me. Does that mean she can hear some of it or just that she knows what I say at times like that is never really important anyway?
Ah, well. We go on. She has general routines for daily life, so she has a good idea of roughly when things are going to happen. I've never given my dogs a really rigid schedule so they're fairly flexible and accepting of 1-2 hour variations in meal times, walk times, etc. She's still very happy when walk or meal times come around. A few weeks ago she got to flirt with a male Tervuren (long-haired version of Malinois). That made her very happy to think that she still is sexy in the eyes of a boy in his prime. As long as she's still happy to be here, she is welcome to stay. When she says she's tired of this life, it will be soon enough to say goodbye to my beautiful blonde.