Loss has been a big part of my life this past year. It started with the loss of health and mobility, then moved into loss of husband and all that entailed – loss of companionship, partnership, physical closeness, financial and physical security, someone to ‘have my back,’ and so much more. I lost my uncle a year ago — my last aunt/uncle, the last of his generation in my family except for my parents. Around the same time, I lost my beautiful, loving Somali cat Sienna, at age 4, to a genetic form of chronic anemia.
Obviously none of this compares to the truly devastating losses that some of my friends and family members have suffered. And loss is, of course, a part of life. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly, and sometimes it has to be initiated in order for life to move forward.
A week ago today, I sent Jed back to his breeder. It was a very difficult decision many weeks in the making. At about five months of age, an odd behavior pattern started to occur. Around 4:00-4:30 every evening, Jed would begin to dribble urine. A house trained dog, he was clearly distressed by this. It was often accompanied by a sudden, frantic burst of activity, but unfortunately, the urine dribbling occurred at the same time, not afterward, so this behavior wasn’t useful as a warning. Even if I saw it happen, it was too late to prevent a urine stream, sometimes through several rooms. This happened every evening, repeatedly, up until bedtime, sometimes at 10-15 minutes intervals. Let outside, Jed would run to the yard and urinate, every time. But that didn’t prevent another occurrence in the house, a quarter of an hour later. To all appearances, he could not hold urine in his bladder – although he did not have nighttime accidents in his crate, nor did this occur in the morning or early afternoon. So very strange.
My vet checked Jed twice for UTIs – none – and checked to see if his urine was more dilute than normal (was he drinking lots and lots of excess water without my being aware of it?) – no.
During this period, Jed spent two weeks at the house of a friend who is a very experienced dog trainer. He exhibited the exact same behavior pattern there. She leashed him to her inside the house, and even then couldn’t always catch the onset of frantic distress quickly enough to prevent the urine dribbling.
She and I both tried crating him for several hours after he ate dinner. He didn’t soil his crate; however, as soon as he was released, after urinating outdoors, he would come inside and the dribbling pattern would begin.
I altered everything I could think of: what and when he ate; where, when, and how much he drank; what he played with and chewed; even what room he was crated in. Nothing changed the behavior.
I did not have the financial resources for the major medical workup that would have been the next step, nor did my swollen and painful knees allow for multiple crawling-on-the-floor urine cleanups throughout every afternoon and evening. So I talked with Jed’s breeder, who agreed to take over the search for the cause and, hopefully, a cure for whatever is happening with Jed.
So, another loss. Single Life, Without Puppy.
Well, I still have the Big Puppy, Falcon.
I have always deeply disliked the term often used by shelters and rescue groups, “forever home.” “Sparky found his forever home.” “Bitsy is looking for a forever home.” Well, guess what. Nothing is necessarily forever. Life changes, circumstances change. None of us can count on anything being ‘forever;’ not people, not dogs. And sometimes change is for the best. I’ve seen terrible mismatches between dog and owner, where a change of home would be the best thing that could happen to both parties. Sometimes a ‘forever home’ is a life sentence.
People and dogs are masters of adaptability.
This has been a discouraging loss, but my hope is that the breeder will discover the cause of Jed’s issues and he can go on to live a long and happy life.
Autumn Leaves Photos by Cryrolfe Photography