Old Yeller

Last night, Edsel and I did our usual routine, as he greatly enjoys a routine. Before dinner, we chased Blu about 159 times. You need two Blus for this game, because otherwise he won’t give the one in his lips back to you.

hay. it nother Blu!
It’s weird that I happened to take pictures of this, because who knew I’d be blogging about it the next day, but it’s all very convenient.

After he chases Blu so much that he eventually just walks it back, we give up and I enjoy watching his lips stretch while he pants enthusiastically.

I like watching Edsel do his dog things.

I got Edsel in the fall of 2010, the same day I got a new couch, and that was a mistake. I got him through Petfinder, through (and I hate hate hate this term) a rescue group. Despite the fact that he was not pulled from a burning high-rise, he was “rescued.” I wish I could remember the cockamamie name they had for him, but I do remember the woman who handed him over saying, “I didn’t think anyone would take this homely puppy.” And that’s how I came up with the name Edsel.

His mom was, allegedly, a white German shepherd, and his dad was a dog who hopped into the back yard and got to know mom. Bought her a bowl of water, asked her to dance the foxhound trot. They did the Boxer step. Did the stanky leg.

I’ll stop.

Anyway, he knocked her up, the brute, and while I have no idea how many were in his litter, I do know Edsel was a result.

This was way up in the mountains, in Mount Airy, which is where Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show was based. The whole damn town is Andy Griffith-y now, but it’s a sweet little part of the state and who knew there was dirty dog sex happening while Aunt Bea baked pies.

First picture I ever took of The Eds.

He was sedate, I mean really sedate, when I met him. He was just sitting on the lap of an old lady who they told me had dementia. He was similarly sedate as he slept on me the whole drive home. I remember Tallulah barking like an idiot when I introduced them, but she was harmless. (Unlike some dogs.)

Soon they were thick as thieves. And by that I mean Talu put up with Edsel, and Edsel fekking adored her. Oh, god, he loved her. He’d sleep on her hip as soon as he was convinced that she was asleep and would no longer growl when he did it. He watched her every move and wanted to be as cool as her so bad.

I miss them together. That’s why I lost my mind when she died and kept trying to get him another friend. I loved the two of them as a duo, even though I think Tallulah technically never forgave me for bringing an Edsel into our lives.

putting curss on mom for dis
no, rully. CURSS.

Anyway, for years Edsel was what you’d call …exuberant. People would come over and he’d bark and he’d jump and he’d wiggle and he’d not calm down about it for the first two hours.

“I knew a dog like that. He never did calm down,” people would say. Why do people say such terrible things? Back when I actually had a cubicle, a thing I miss every day the way some women miss their man at sea, the woman in the next cube was pregnant, and 46 times a day someone would come in there and tell her a birthing horror story. Why?

But you know what? The last year or two, that exuberance is gone. You tell Edsel to stay, he stays. I put up a gate when I go to work, so Eds won’t sit on the couch. One day Milhous knocked the gate over, and I know this because I saw him tear off, but there was Eds, standing still behind where the gate had been. He wasn’t going to break the rules.

He’s a calmer dog now, and still the most sensitive creature on earth. I’ll just THINK an angry thing and he curls into a letter C. I think he spends the whole time I’m home just monitoring my moods, which right there is a full-time job.

He’s more careful when he moves now, more deliberate. I see him hesitate when he jumps on something. I told the vet, so now Eds is on three kinds of supplements to help with his hips, which are just getting old. Wearing out.

He’s a medium-sized dog, and according to a chart, he’s 56. For the first time, Eds and I are kind of the same age. His snout is whitening, and his joints are stiffening. I feel him on this.

Last night, after our Blu chase, when he squatted to poop, his legs gave out for a second. “Oh, Edsel, you okay?” I asked. He looked at me and I knew he was saying yes, because I’ve realized lately how much we talk without talking. He has a go-outside schedule, but if he ever has to go off schedule, the way he walks up to me tells me. I always just know, from even seeing him out of the corner of my eye. “Do you have to go–” is all I have to say, and he’s halfway to the door already.

He knows when I’m getting ready for bed and usually is already in there, making a nest with his pillow when I climb in. Last night he was standing next to the bed. He kept lifting his front legs, but for the first time, his back legs just wouldn’t do it.

I picked him up and put him on the bed. He seemed sad about this latest indignity. I stroked his head and told him I’d always help him onto the bed if he needed it. And that I’d make sure he had as few aches and pains as we can get away with.

Today I’ll call the vet. Her first instinct is to give my pets some hippie natural stuff first, and I appreciate that, but I think we may need something stronger now. And maybe a little less Blu chasing.

He’s outside right now with his new best friend, walking carefully in my velvety grass, sniffing the bees in the pear tree and letting the sun rise onto his old bones.

Tallulah died so young and so tragically. It was three months from her first symptoms to her death. I didn’t have time to even think about it, and I’m still in disbelief three years later.

I feel honored to be with Edsel as he ages. I look forward to doing all I can to make him comfortable. He’s always been there to help me, and I will do the same for him.

That’s what friends do.

P.S. Thank you for your tips yesterday. Kitten is still at shelter, where they are testing him for stuff. Now when they DO return him to me, I’ll feel less worried when they say he needs raw duck meat or whatever. I have it to give to him!

71 thoughts on “Old Yeller

  1. Poor Edsel. Getting old sucks. The Vet said that Howard can only go for walks 3x a week for only 15 minutes. Really it’s just a chance for him to meander around the greenbelt, smelling stuff. He seems just as satisfied as those long walks we used to take. No more running on the treadmill for him even though he loved it.

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  2. I’ve never loved a dog that I’ve never met, until Edsel. I really do love that sweet, sweet boy. I so hope the visit with the veterinarian proves productive and that he gets to enjoy feeling fabulous once again!

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  3. I know when my Lady, Koty and Sadie got to their twilight years, Tramadol was their savior. We also did doggie acupuncture and laser treatments to relieve their arthritis and pain from cancer. It was the hardest thing I have endured, but it was my duty as their mom to make sure they were comfortable.

    This post made me cry big big tears. Much love to you and sweet Eds. He’s a peanut.

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  4. Lovely post.
    I know, it’s bittersweet, having an old dog, isn’t it? Currently going through this phase with my beloved old cur. Went through it about 7 years ago with another beloved old cur.

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  5. I was so worried this post was going to end differently. I’m relieved to hear that Edsel ok for now, but this still breaks my heart. Time is so cruel.

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  6. So I have a black Lab, Polly, who will be 14 in June. When she was 9, she had an FCE – a spinal embolism. We chose to rehab her, but she was never really able to walk normally again (her back end had the most damage, especially one leg) and as time went on, especially after each kennel stay (short but needed over Christmas 2x and son’s college graduation), she got worse. We have been using a sling for her for years. Perhaps your vet might recommend the same for Edz to support him while he is pooping, but a male may need a slightly different sling.

    I am certain Polly has pain, her front legs take a lot of weight. Hell, I am in pain from slinging her ass around for nearly 5 years. She still seems fairly happy but has gone downhill a lot over the past 6 months. Hearing and sight aren’t what they used to be, repeated UTIs are breaking the bank, and we have to follow a “terrycloth road” through the house as she often pees on her way to the front door – possibly UTI related, or pressure from the sling related, or sling rubbing a rash belly related.

    It’s hard to watch our beloved pets grow old and hard to know when the time has come to say goodbye. Our next step may be CBD oil. Anyone have any advice on that subject?

    Edz is still a handsome dude and he makes me smile.

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    • Seems like a lot of people have some success with CBD oil. I tried it on myself and my cats, and we all three hated the taste so much we refused to keep trying. For a dog, probably a lot easier to disguise in peanut butter or some such.

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  7. Deep sigh. It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. But why does it have to hurtz so bad? May you have many more years together.

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  8. Awww, so much love for Edsel here! He’s a good boy and he got a great home and family when you saved him.

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  9. Our pets truly are our family. And the best family members at that. I’ll bet Eds is really enjoying his peaceful life with you and the cats. It’s nice that Milhous is his buddy. We have a cat that adores our lab and it’s so cute. When my daughter calls for Mavis, the cat goes running to her as well as to not miss out any Mavis fun.

    Also, yard envy. No such thing as a real grassy beautiful yard here in the hot desert.

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  10. Lovely tribute post. It just plain sucks when they noticeably slow down. Ayiana has been gone nearly 2 years and I still sometimes ugly cry in the shower.

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  11. Oh dammit. My eyes are leaking. Maggie’s hips got really bad before she died. We carried her everywhere (she was snack size at 6 pounds so we could). Sometimes I pick up her urn (surprisingly, her ashes did not burn down to dime size) and kiss the top of it trying to remember her horrific breath and and soft, furry head.

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  12. I love this post so much! Edsel is such a sensitive soul and adores you. It’s so hard to watch them age. I wish my oldest could talk and tell me if he’s in pain. He doesn’t act like it, but you never know!

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  13. Oh, sweet Edsel! It seems dogs just age so suddenly! I know it isn’t true, but it always feels like it comes out of nowhere. Our Luanne is getting old. She had some back pain recently and she just acts older. It breaks my heart. Every time I notice it, I try to give her extra tummy rubs and kisses.

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  14. Such a beautiful post – so full of love. Made me cry too though. I love my animals like they are people too. Can’t say any more – too many tears. Hang in though – Edz will do fine with some help!

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  15. beautiful post. i love that in your writing it is clear how much you love your pets! thank you for sharing all of this with all of us.

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  16. The title scared me, I am so relieved Edsel is okay. He’s a great friend! Best photo, Lu looking right at the camera while Edz is back there destroying a pillow. Lu is saying, “I didn’t have a thing to do with making that mess, talk to Edz about it”. It made me laugh out loud.

    You are the poster child/person for a perfect pet owner. You care for them very well regardless of their stage of life. It’s so sad all pets don’t get the level of care you give your pets and fosters.
    Tee

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  17. This really is a lovely post, June.
    He’s given you so much happiness over the years and we’ve loved every photo and video you’ve shared.
    Sweet goofball Eds. Even though he’s slowing down he’s still as devoted to mom and the kids. And Blu.
    Good boy.

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    • Hahaha! Hope your junkyard has a half-sized box. Or is there a Seen Only on TV commercial for a doggy version of those escalator/sideways chairs that slide up your stairs?

      And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am neither writer nor copy editor.

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  18. You know my exquisite junkyard taste in furnishings—I covered a box with a dog blanket and placed it by the bed, and one-eyed, four-toothed 12-year-old Minka hopped up and down that way. Until she hesitated a couple of times, this very week.
    Well, at least this story didn’t end as sadly as I feared when I saw the head “Old Yeller.”
    What did that lady mean, “homely”?

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  19. You know my junkyard taste in furniture—I put a box next to the bed, half the height of said bed, and covered it with a dog blanket. Minka hopped up and down that way . . . until this very week when she approached it and hesitated. OK, at least the head “Old Yeller” did not match my worst fears.

    What did that lady mean, “homely”?

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  20. I love Edz forever. Who doesn’t love a sensitive dude. On another subject we having seen your dance moves lately. I could use the pick me up/inspiration. Any new songs or music you’ve been listening to lately?

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  21. So sweet. I had seen the movie a few times, but I recently read ‘Marley and Me,’ oh, man – these doggies and their hips?! Heart breaking. I have allergies and cannot have a dog (although as a middle child with two older sisters who were BFFs and two younger brothers who were Best Buds, I always begged for a dog from Santa every year – so I was once a hopeful dog owner). Now I have 6 kids and I have heard of these hypoallergenic dogs but I don’t think I can introduce one into this house. Anywho – this is such a sweet story. Tallulah and Edsel – they were so so cute together. I too, love that photo of Tallulah just staring at the camera like, ‘Yeah, he is something else, isn’t he’ (insert eye roll) as Edsel destroys the pillow. Hilarious. Hope the vet has some better meds for his hips! Oh, and I love that he spends his days managing your moods. Perfect!

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  22. Such a wonderful and moving post. I love Edsel…I always scroll down to see if your posts contain pictures of him before I read (I do read it even though there might not be any pictures of him). My pups are 12 and 14 and this was truly what I needed to read today.

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  23. I feel like someone took over your blog today simply b/c the pictures are so clear and beautiful! This entire post is perfection. Edsel is so lucky to have you as his person!!! Our jackass dog is heavily medicated and still a jackass so I’m thinking there is no hope of him settling down. ha, ha!!

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  24. No advice to be given here. I know better, but I have two elderly dogs and I know of which you speak. Tahoe, 15, weighs 75# give or take. Last year he dropped 8#. I thought it was going to be farewell. The vet gave me rymadil and tramadol, which I only used when he really needed it. He rallied and is now back to being a big obnoxious asshole. No meds. Trixie is 17 and weighs in at 13#. She’s my lap warmer. The only thing I did differently was switch their grain free food. I’m sorry for the novel. I feel passionately about my dogs well being as I know you do as well. I believe they will only do what brings them joy until the enjoyment stops. Blu chasing will be fun until it’s not. My feeling is he will let you know when chasing Blu is no longer fun. I really love your pictures.

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  25. Beautiful post. I hope the vet will find something that helps. How long has he been on the supplements? They may take a long time to start working. I second the suggestion of steps for the bed.

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  26. Beautiful post. I also felt so honored to be able to care for my sweet angel Boomer as he got older, and eventually, as he got very sick. You both are very lucky to have one another.

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  27. Beautiful homage . A girl loves her dog.
    I see he has transferred his adoration to you from Tallulah,as a pack would .

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  28. I just took our 12-year-old lab to the vet yesterday for the same issues. I have been using supplements but I did not feel like they were doing enough. They gave me a sample of Galliprant to try. It is not supposed to affect the liver or kidneys. It’s expensive but it’s worth a try.

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  29. Such a beautiful love letter to a dog. Lovely post, June. My Gryffin has what they are calling a pinched nerve in his back. He takes a glucosamine supplement but needed pain meds too. He get Gabapentin and Tramadol daily. I kind of hate that he is getting pain meds daily and will for the rest of his life but his vet assures me that they are safe and that we should keep doing what works. I trust this vets opinion because he will offer a lot of alternative methods for things, something not all DVM’s will do. He is also into the treadmill water therapies and offers acupuncture and will refer to people to a Reiki person. Plus, he gave his own pet the same sort of meds for years also. All that helped me be ok with giving a pain medicine daily.

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  30. That pic where Talu’s face is half cut off with Eds & his stuffing carnage made me laugh out loud. Her expression kills me. That last picture of Eds and his new BFF made me all misty eyed. Damn you June Gardens making my old grizzled heart feel the whole universe of emotions in one read.

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  31. Very well written. How lucky are we to have these creatures that love us unconditionally and bring loads of joy to our lives ? Gut wrenching when it’s time to say good bye

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  32. You’re a special kind of pet parent, in that you are good in their early lives, middle, and end. Most people can’t handle at least one of those.
    I’m sure it just seems normal to you, so I wanted to point out that it isn’t common and you are exceptional. All your pets, regular and foster, are very lucky.

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  33. Precious Edsel! What a love! I got my dogs a Blu, but they ignore it completely. I need to send it to you so he’ll have three to chase. Or maybe one in the house to gnaw on. I always hate to see evidence of them getting older. I want to stop time – right there.

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  34. I hope you got yourself a cheeseburger, because this is an emotional trainwreck of a week and it’s only… wait, is it Wednesday already?

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  35. This made me cry big tears. Thinking about my beloved Lady, Koty and then Sadie. Such a love story, like your Talu and Eds! Wonderful babies!! Such a privilege to have them, really. Love you…

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  36. Jeebus. I needed a spoiler alert on this. I am weeping at my desk now. I had the same situation with my Bailey, who died last August at 3 weeks shy of 14 years old. She was 80 pounds of puppy right until her hips just didn’t want to lift her back legs any more. The last 6 months or so, we had to help her up every morning, and I was honored to do so. The look she gave me, though… killed me. She knew.
    I love how you love Edz (and all your animals) and just do the best damned job you can of making their lives the best in all the land.
    Because we are crazy and bc our home needs a dog again, we are getting an 8 week-old puppy in two days and I’ve already bought her a Blu. Which I’ve named Blu, in Edsel’s honor. My husband thinks I am whack. He’s not wrong.
    Thanks for this most lovely post, June.

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      • oh hellz yeah I am on the Book and hellz yeah you all are going to be inundated with photos! She’s a chocolate Australian labradoodle and unless it doesn’t fit her when we meet her, her name is Stella; when we got married — 2nd for both of us – the band we hired was Stella and the Stanleys. So I want to get a second pet — hopefully cat but husband has allergies so may be 2nd dog, and it will be male, and it will be Stanley. And a “rescue,” so I can assuage my guilt about buying this puppy. I have a lot of words to say how happy I am to have an animal in the house again. 🙂

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  37. Sweet Edsel! You are the best Mom a dog could have. For some reason, I keep remembering that video you did years ago of Talu and Edsel eating carrots and being good “Horses”! That was hilarious!

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  38. What a timely gem. Your journey with Edsel reminds me of mine with Lucia. You are the caring parent, and the loving guidance he needs in this next chapter of life. Very sweet tribute to the wonderful boy. Would he do those stairs by the bed?

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