I sometimes call him “Spike” but his real name is Bradley. When you see his tail you would agree that my name for him is more fitting; it is just a thin little whippy thing and it wags quite a lot. You can see him walking with me, here on the island almost any day that it is not pouring – it’s our favorite thing to do. You would notice his tail isn’t wagging while we’re walking. Bradley takes his walking very seriously. Once we’ve started, he behaves as if he has blinders on, like a mule, and keeps plodding along. If I stop to chat with people we meet, he gets very anxious about “getting going” and will interrupt like a spoiled child with his sharp, very loud BARK. Brad’s nose WILL get the best of him and he will interrupt the walk to sniff where a deer, bunny, raccoon, bird, other dog, cat, or whatever has left a deliciously smelly mark. He also needs to lift his leg on every mailbox post, clump of weeds, fallen branch. It is amazing that this dog can pee so much – he has advanced kidney failure. Even more remarkable, Bradley was “supposed” to die in January. He came to stay with us “to die” – that was over four months ago, now.
Bradley isn’t really MY dog, he belongs to my son Chris. We call him our “grand-dog.” We lavish love and affection on him as if he was our grandchild. Our vet Dr. Bill says he IS a “grand” dog and we agree. Chris works 5 days a week, so we “share custody.” Chris wanted Brad to have company during his last days and we did too. Chris lives and works across the water from our Island, so it’s not feasible to take the dog back and forth every day, so usually we trade-off just when Chris isn’t working. The dog goes on the ferry as much as most people on the island! Back and forth…
We were in the Oakland CA airport, when we first received the bad news call from Chris. Bradley’s kidneys were shutting down and he wasn’t expected to live more than a few days, no more than a few weeks. We all agreed that we wanted Brad’s last days to be as good as they could be. He loves it here on the island and especially loves hanging out on the warm grass, while we’re gardening. At that point it didn’t look like he’d be enjoying a warm Springtime or the lawn, more like we’d be burying him there. He was puking and having a bit of bowel problems too.
That’s when we got a 2nd opinion from Dr. Bill. Dr. B said that Bradley didn’t quite LOOK like a dog on his way out… but he’d have to see Brad’s chart. It turned out Brad’s “numbers” were really terrible. Bill suggested that we bring him in to the hospital for an IV water flush treatment. We all felt terrible leaving him there – he’d never been at the Vet’s over night before. The people at Fountain Veterinary Hospital were wonderful. We were able to visit ANY time they were open. Chris would go and get in the cage with Brad and just hang out. It took 4 days, but they got Brad’s numbers to improve slightly. A vet there said he’d seen a few cases where dogs were able to survive longer, if we could get Bradley to stabilize.
They said he would need to be on special prescription dog food for the rest of his life – NOTHING ELSE. 1st we tried some canned food Hill’s K/D. Brad quit eating. Then we tried the Hill’s K/D kibble. That worked for a while, and then he quit eating again. We hear this is a common problem at “the end.” The hospital recommended trying Royal Cannin LP Modified – we got both cans and kibble. Hooray!! Bradley likes it quite well. This food, along with lots of water, and Pepcid twice a day has stabilized his condition. The puking and bowel problems stopped. His beautiful caramel/black brindle fur coat has become extra shiny.
We are happy to report that Bradley can go on 5 mile walks, can leap 5 feet off our deck, run up and down the stairs, and in one hop land into my lap in the chair. I didn’t mention that Brad is over 12 years old. He has lived to life expectancy and now is holding his renal shutdown at bay. We treasure every day we spend with him and know that one of these days we will miss him very much.
Bradley in his younger days!