January 6, 2013
Some of you know Uma Thurman Calvert Buenger. She's our 13.5 year old Welsh corgi. She may be the only dog I have ever owned that was bred on purpose and came with papers. She was bought, paid for, and spoiled by our dear, long time friend Bob Calvert in the months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When he died, his wife thought we might like to have Uma. It was Bob's last big (HUGE) joke on us.
In the dozen plus years that followed, we tried with Uma, but she was never that willing to fit into our family. She really wanted to be an only dog, not part of a three- or four-dog pack. I think it is too late to enumerate the many ways she didn't fit in, but they had to do with her pervasive prejudice against anyone having fun. She combined this general grumpiness with an exceptionally shrill and repetitive bark. She overate as a matter of course.
And yet, you know the Buengers. We're dog people. She may not be overly lovable, but she's *our* not overly lovable dog.
For years, she split time with us and my mom next door. She slept over there and ate over here. We always hoped she'd burn some calories trotting between the two.
Right before Walter's surgery last May, she went in for her annual exam and came home with orders for hospice care--two terminal diagnoses, congestive heart failure and a hemangiosarcoma near her liver.
Then she proceeded to exceed expectation like she never had before. As a woman of experience, I knew the signs to look for, but I didn't see them.
Spark of Life--good
This has gone on and on--eight months. She did retain fluid almost from the start, despite some high quality meds (and 160 milligrams of lasix/day. . . yes, she pees like a fire hose). A couple of months in, she could no longer manage the stairs up to my mom's house and moved back in with us permanently. Ultimately, her back legs have failed her, forcing her to drag herself along on her stubby front pegs. Her vision has mostly faded. Her hearing has slipped. Yet even today she remains:
Spark of Life--fair
So, in some ways, my world has grown quite small again. Uma doesn't really like to be alone and will bark to signal that preference. I have taken to working at the kitchen table so she's quiet and her little accidents are easier to clean up and so she doesn't wander around to other parts of the house looking for me.
I can't really foresee the end. She hasn't taken to sleeping around the clock. She hasn't developed a cough. Her ins and outs roughly match. She eats every damn thing she's offered and is always on the look out for more. She remains interested in the household goings on (as much as she ever was). I keep on looking for a sign that she's ready to move on to the next thing, but she's not signaling. So, mostly I sit. At least she can take pride in having taught me one trick.