Axel is 16 ¾ years old….or, as the mathematicians in the family would say, 16 5/6 years old. In November he’ll be 17. Although I know his time is limited, he enjoys hanging out with us, and saying good night to the puppies. He especially appreciates the rare moments when they’re quiet.. And of course he likes dinner. And breakfast. And anything else to eat he might scavenge up in addition.
But just recently Axel started barking.
His hearing is shot, so he’s not warning us about intruders. He doesn’t bark with the other dogs, just on his own. Sitting in his bed or standing. Bark. Bark.. At first we thought he wanted out of the kitchen, where the puppies are confined. So we’d let him out.
But he’d bark some more.
So we thought he wanted in. And after he was in, he’d bark some more. It’s not loud enough to annoy the neighbors, this is old-man dog barking, remember.
This has been going on for a while now and suddenly it hit me—head slap—maybe the guy is in pain, and this is the only way he can tell us.
So we got him to the vet.
Where Dr. Kagan was really impressed. “His coat is beautiful!” “He’s got great range of motion.” “And what makes you think he’s blind?”
“The other vet told us so. Axel walked into the hot tub a couple weeks ago. He bumps into things all the time. He lowers his head v-e-r-y slowly into the water bowl because he doesn’t know where the water starts.”
“He’s in great shape!” she said, as she twisted his neck this way and that. “I never do this with really old dogs.”
“No idea,” said doctor Kagan, “but for 16 years old he is just great.”
“He’s 16 3/4,” I wanted to say, but didn’t. And in fact the Axel on the table before us, was kind of a miracle dog. He could walk fine. He was strong enough to wriggle away—“not much muscle wasting here”—and she doesn’t think he’s completely blind either.
Even though he’s smart enough to come to come fully to life at the vet’s office the one thing she could suggest was Hill’s brain food, for dementia. But then the manufacturer only makes it in dry food.
Axel is missing a few teeth and had throat surgery a couple of times. It’s only wet food…plus a little yogurt…for him.
But seriously…it’s senior dogs who might benefit from the brain diet, and senior dogs are going to need wet food. Don’t know about the barking.
But do know I’m getting out the ear plugs.