We have a very old Golden Retriever that we have had since he was a puppy. We picked him out of the litter ourselves. The vet has told us that his life expectancy is 8-12 years. He'll be 12 in September. He has been in great health. Still has all his teeth in good condition. Very little joint issues. He might be occasionally a little reluctant to jump in the back of the SUV. He still runs with DH (short, slow jogs). Still chases a ball and can jump into the air.
Friday he wasn't feeling well. I thought he might need a dose of worm meds, but it became obvious quickly that it was something much bigger than that. A few months ago he had what seemed to be a seizure episode from which he recovered fine and was right back to his usual forever-the-puppy ways that are definitive of Golden Retrievers. This quickly developed into another one and this time I thought we were going to lose him. He was quite lethargic. He begged to go outside, but then had to be blanket carried back into the house (he's too heavy and big for me to pick up alone) when he collapsed and could not get up. Casey and I carried him into the house, made him comfortable and I talked to DH at work. We had decided that we weren't going to go to heroic efforts to keep Copper alive at the end. That we wanted him to be able to pass on still happy and contented and pain-free. Copper didn't seem to be suffering. He would wag his tail when we spoke to him even if his eyes were shut and he wasn't moving. He breathing wasn't labored. The vet clinic was closed for the weekend. The vet is a friend of ours and we knew that testing would be necessary to determine what was wrong. And we had already decided that we were going to let him pass if he was seriously ill and that we would euthanize if he was suffering in any way. So we decided to wait and watch, loving him, brushing him (which he loves) and offering him water (which he refused).
I slept on the couch near him so he wouldn't be alone and I could meet any needs during the night. He remained seemingly unconscious breathing evenly. At 2 am he began to lift his head and look at me. About 30 minutes later he began to shift his weight around to get comfortable. And though he threw up several times during the night, he never indicated any type of distress. About 3:30 he got to his feet and wanted to go outside. I was reluctant to let him in case he couldn't get back up the steps, but he really wanted to and did make it back in.
This morning he is back in his favorite spot parked just inside the front door where the air keeps the tiles cool for him. He has walked around a few times. Is taking water. Wags his tail and even barked at me when I was playful with him. I think he's going to make it! I know we're going to lose him sometime. Probably soon. He's really pushing the envelope already.
But I don't think it's going to be today... And for that, I'm grateful.