Thursday, August 11, 2011

Horrible, horrible thoughts

Lately, I've been working on getting my will in place.  I'm feeling fine and have no expectations of expiring anytime soon; it's just been bothering me for some time that I don't have a will in place.  I'm doing this  because I worry about the arrangements for my pets.  If I can't take care of them, I want to make darned sure that they go somewhere that they'll get the same level of care that they get from me.

Tallulah's easy.  She' goes back to the breeder, who I've stayed in contact with and trust very much.  Winter will go live with a friend and her family.  I've seen them with their own pets, so I know they'd take excellent care of him.  Cotton is the problem.   I've been thinking about it for weeks, and I can't think of anybody that I'd trust who is in the position to take on an aging maltese that's going blind, has panic attacks and a raging case of canine dementia.  Oh, and he's cat, dog and child aggressive too.

I haven't wanted to put the option that I'm leaning towards into words, but last night made me make up my mind.

Last night, there was an electrical storm that lasted for about 2 hours.  Lately, Cotton's dementia has been causing him a lot of grief at night (he wakes up, gets disoriented in the dark and then gets upset) but he's always been fine with storms.  Storms were the one thing that never phased him.  Last night however, the constant flashing of lightning and booms of thunder pushed him over the edge and sent him into a doozy of a panic attack.

During panic attacks, Cotton thinks he needs to be as close to me as possible, but at the same time, he tries his hardest to escape.  (I haven't figured out what he's escaping... the room he's in, his crate, the yard if he's outside.  He just needs to run away.)  He pants, and he drools copious amounts.  He also digs.  If I confine him in any way, he'll dig and chew until his nails and teeth are bloody nubs.

At first, I tried to sooth him.  Then I got angry because it was 1:00am and I had to get up in the morning, so I locked him out of my room. Then I reminded myself that he can't help it, and swaddled him up in a blanket and held him as tight as I could for an hour.  That kind of worked for a while, but then he started escalating again.  When he started digging and biting at me, I put him on the floor.  He went ballistic.  I picked him up again and paced the house, trying to calm him down.

The light and sound from the storm was freaking him out.  I couldn't take him to the basement to get away from it, because he gets too worried in unfamiliar spaces.  We couldn't go to the garage, because the garage means a car ride, and car rides are the source of all horror.  So, I put him in his crate in the bathroom with the door closed.  He dug to get out until I thought he was going to lose a nail, so I let him loose.  He ran to the backdoor, begging me to take him out into the storm - but I knew he'd then dig out of the dog pen and eventually the yard if I let him.  It was now 2:30am, and all I could think to do was to curse, swear or cry.

Then I came to my senses and rooted deep into the drawer where I keep meds.  I found a bottle of diazepam (previously prescribed to him for extreme situations like this, but avoided as much as possible, as per vet's instructions).  It was a battle, but eventually I got most of it down his throat.  I swaddled him up and went back to bed, where I held him tight until the pill kicked in.  An hour or so later, the alarm went off and I had a happy, mellow old dog in my bed.  He was pretty wobbly for the rest of the day, but you'd otherwise never have known that anything was wrong.

So, I've decided.  I can't take the chance that Cotton would go through anything like that alone.  If I die before he does, he's going to be cremated with me.


  1. As a human who has suffered panic attacks, I felt every moment of Cotton's predicament and I completely understand his wanting to be comforted and to escape simultaneously. My heartbeat kicked up just reading your post. I wish I'd had you around when I was having my panic attacks (except I couldn't handle being crated.) You are a GOOD mom to deal with this! But, you are right, you can't ask or trust someone else to do the same. You simply have to stick around until his time is done. God Bless!

  2. Oh thank GOD that was the ending - I thought you were going to say you were putting him down NOW!

  3. I've been giving serious thought about it. Sometimes I question if the happy times in his life outweigh the horror.

  4. You've got to remember the diazepam earlier in the evening, girl.

  5. A hard decision to make, for sure. But you'll know when to make it. FOr now, you have a good plan in place.

  6. all too depressing to even think about :-(

  7. yeah, I have a bit of a problem with avoidance

  8. Janice, very tough decisions. My heart goes out to you and Cotton.