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It’s been anything but a normal week around our house. In fact, things got so out of hand that I totally missed one football game Friday and left shortly after halftime at another on Saturday. Because I love football so much, that just doesn’t happen this sports season – but it did.
It all started last Wednesday when little Huey, our 18-year-old terrier, didn’t want to go on his afternoon walk. He took only a few steps and stopped. We headed back into the house while Jenny made the hike around the neighborhood with Molly, our 4-year-old beagle.
Huey had never turned down a walk, even when it was cold or raining. Because his early- morning and late-afternoon walks are the highlights of his day, I knew something was wrong.
By nighttime, he seemed to be having trouble with his breathing. He couldn’t get comfortable and kept his nose pointed upward, trying to get more air.
We debated whether to call our vet, Jaimie Newman, because it was 9 o’clock, and her office is in Saltillo. (We go to Saltillo because she had been recommended to us by our vet in Alabama. They had gone to school together at Mississippi State, and Dr. Newman was just starting her practice.)
“Maybe she could suggest something we could do to make him more comfortable,” I said.
Jenny made the call. Dr. Newman was concerned and said she thought she should see him right away.
So we made the trek to Saltillo, where she and her husband, who is a vet in a practice in Amory, met us at her office. An X-ray showed lots of liquid buildup in his lungs, even though he takes Lasix for high-blood pressure and to reduce fluid retention.
She recommended giving him a high dose of Lasix intravenously through an IV drip. It would need to be changed every two hours, she said.
Jenny and I looked at each other.
“Don’t worry,” Dr. Newman said. “We’ll just take Huey home with us. I’ll set my alarm to replace the IV and take him outside every two hours.”
After two nights of the Newmans’ “assisted living,” we were told that Huey was improved enough to come home. After work Friday, we drove to Saltillo and picked him up. She doubled his medication, and told us Huey’s walks around the neighborhood are over.
“He’s just gotten too old for it,” she said.
We stayed home with him Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, we decided he was well enough to be left at home while we used our tickets for the Ole Miss game. By halftime, guilt had overtaken us and we drove home.
Huey’s breathing is still very labored, and he tires after walking a few steps into the yard.
We’ve been through this before. Dogs that live in the house and are cared for by a vet tend to live longer. They usually don’t have quick deaths that take you by surprise, such as being hit by a car or getting into rat poison.
So at some point soon, we’ll have a decision to make about how much Huey is suffering, and about how much medical help is the right amount.
We realize his time has grown short, but that doesn’t make it any easier, does it?
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.