Since acquiring a dog stroller for Shuggie, I take him out and about with me as much as possible. I have removed the sign which made others aware that I roll him around as opposed to walk him because he is immobile. I am starting to feel more comfortable and stand firm in my role as his care giver and am giving myself the deserving acceptance of being a dedicated animal lover who walks her talk.
Shuggie is my first disabled dog and the oldest animal I have cared for. He has high anxiety which I can only guess is caused by being separated from his human and out of his home environment and as he is a senior, making major adjustments like that are probably much more difficult.
He sometimes has panic attack-like episodes, in which he will pant, whine and scoot around in circles
without cessation for an extended period of time (The longest one yet having been 2 and a half hours). These episodes often happen around 3am in the morning. I am trying things like brushing him, stroking him, using lavender drops and ensuring he isn’t hungry or thirsty or hasn’t soiled himself. I have taken to the vet who had initially suggested trying to administer Benadryl when he becomes too stressed out (licking and panting hard are often the first signs). The Benadryl no longer works and I have started him on a course of mild anti-anxiety meds that will take another week or two for the calming effects to become apparent. I have also bought him a ‘Thunder shirt’ which is a garment you put on the dog that feels like a hug and is meant to ease their distress and offer comfort. I am trying everything I can to help make his time with me as stress-free as possible for him. I think that by providing him with mental stimulation by taking him out daily even though he can’t walk is good for his moral. Allowing him some time to scoot around the house daily even though he struggles and it is difficult to watch, is good for him so he can still feel some control over his body.
It is not lost on me that Shuggie is spending his last days with me. I have no idea how long he will be in my care. And even though I have not had the honour of seeing him in his prime or spending the last 19 years of his life with him, I have him now. And I will do everything I can to fill his days with joy and love. He deserves it.