The only problem with dogs…

… is that they don’t live forever.

We adopted Quinn (the corgi) in 2015. At the time he officially brought our menagerie up to 3 dogs, all 8 years old or older. The rescue we got him from wasn’t 100% sure on his age, their vet said around 7, but our vet thought closer to 9. So… we just went with 8.

We specifically sought out an older dog from the rescue, knowing that they are harder for them to place. Indeed the rescue hadn’t even bothered listing Quinn, because he was both older and deaf and came to them with a horrid skin condition (he had been surrendered by his owner to the local shelter, so no one really had any information about him. They didn’t even tell the shelter his freakin’ name, only that he was aggressive towards their kids.). When we applied and specifically asked for a senior dog, he was offered to us.

He’s definitely a total weirdo that was NOT socialized properly, but we love him all the same. He’s been a good dog overall, and he especially excelled in his very part time gig as a mobile tack shop greeter.

welcome to my shop

We’ve had him for 5 years now, so he’s somewhere between 12 and 14. We’ve never really had any problems with him (aside from nasty teeth and the fact that trying to bathe him or clip his nails is akin to wrestling a grizzly bear) until he started to show some loss of mobility and feeling in a hind foot last year. For corgis especially that’s a biiiiiiiiiiig warning bell. And unfortunately the warning bell turned out to be right – he has DM.

Being a pembroke corgi of likely questionable breeding/origin, this isn’t such a surprise. It’s pretty common within the breed, and something I knew could happen. It is a progressive eventually fatal disease, so in the past few months I’ve made it my job to find out as much as I can and connect with others who have experience dealing with it.

quinnbluebonnets

The good and bad thing about it being so common with corgis is that there is a lot of support out there to be had. Facebook groups, websites, books… you name it. I bought a book, joined a couple facebook groups, and started looking at what we could do to help him out. He’s lost most of the mobility of both hind limbs now, so he can’t really walk unassisted, he mostly just scoots. We started looking at wheelchairs, but $500+ is a lot to plunk down for something that will get relatively short-term use IF he will even adapt to it and use it at all. Through a facebook group I found CorgiAid, a 501c that helps fund rescues, but also runs a wheelchair rental program. We applied, sent his measurements, paid the deposit and shipping, and now have a cart coming for him. If it works and he uses it, we’ll look at buying one for him.

Through a facebook group I was also able to procure an EZ lift harness, which should help make the short outside bathroom trips easier. Right now we just have to hold his hind legs kinda wheelbarrow style and toodle around the yard with him. I’m excited to get the harness and see how it works.

He still has some motion and feeling in the hind limbs, just not enough to move them on his own in a coordinated effort. Most importantly, though, he’s still very happy and bright. As long as that’s the case we’ll continue exploring ways to help keep him that way. We’re trying to keep him as mobile as “usual” for as long as we can. The good news is that while DM is totally devastating, it isn’t painful. Still, we won’t let him get to the point where he’s completely paralyzed and unable to move on his own.

quinnfloat

Thanks to the book and online resources I think I have a pretty good idea of what to expect going forward and how to deal with it, which makes me feel slightly better. It makes me sad to know that the writing is on the wall, so to speak, for Quinn, and now it’s really just a matter of time. We lost Delia, one of the other seniors, a year ago yesterday, and neither of us is really quite ready for that again. Knowing there’s nothing we can do to change it, we’re just trying not to dwell on it.

For now Quinn is really enjoying getting to spend more time on the couch, having me sneak him extra treats, and sleeping in that california king that we really bought mostly so he would have ample bed space. ❤

22 thoughts on “The only problem with dogs…

  1. It’s so hard when they get old and it sucks even more than they age so quickly. We have a 10 going on 11 year old dog and a 9 going on 10 year old dog. The 9 year old dog is a larger breed and she has gotten so gray this year. 😦

    I am so glad Quinn has people who are trying to make his life more comfortable. Every dog should be so lucky.

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  2. I am so sorry about Quinn and so glad I got to meet him. And Stewie is still kicking. He may outlive you all! 🙂 I am really sorry and hope Quinn uses the chair. Tell SO i am sorry too as i know how he feels about these animals as much as you!! 😦

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  3. Quinn is lucky to have you and your SO in his life to help ease him through this I’m sorry you are going through this and know how heart breaking it is. Hugs to all three of you.

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  4. This is why I’m and advocate of having 10 dogs (what is wrong with me?!) at varying ends of the age spectrum. Our youngest dog is 10 months and oldest 2 are 14. Thankfully none of the oldies appear to have any known degenerative health issues other than teeth falling out (Italian Greyhound), some bumps that look like warts (Toy Fox Terrier) and just slowing down a bit (muttastic). I foster a lot of dogs and the oldies are my favorite bc the ppl who seek to adopt them are always the best ppl. It’s not easy when we lose them, but it is an honor to provide them a dignified and pain free ending that is so much better than what they may have had!
    Sending lots of jingles to Quinn and I hope the sling and wheelchair give her a few more years!

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  5. Watching them age is so hard… I lost my 2 senior dogs to neurological issues within the last 3 years. My oldest is now about 9 (we think), and we just adopted a young-ish dog a few weeks ago, we think she’s about 2.

    I hope Q will learn to use the wheelchair, I had no idea there was a rental program, that’s a brilliant idea. He is super lucky to have found such a loving family.

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  6. DM is such a cruel disease.
    My Shepherd went through it as well – being a bigger dog, it was much tougher to manage him once he started to lose mobility of his legs. We did get a Walkin Wheels wheelchair for him and it worked SO well. (Sidenote: If you do end up buying one new, they sell relatively easily and hold their value if you are worried about that). We never used the hoisting method of the cart, as he had SOME use of his legs and we wanted to encourage him to do so. Unfortunately, he couldn’t really use the wheelchair in the house because it was so wide (the hallways would have been a no-go) but we laid carpet runners throughout the entire house (hardwood and tile) so he had some grip.

    I chose to let him go before he suffered – he was NOT happy fighting the limitations of the disease and being a very independent and proud dog, having to have someone help him was not his idea of fun. The idea of euthanasia is a personal and individually tailored decision – with Ty, he simply looked at me one day and his eyes said, “I’m not having fun anymore.” And so, I let him go.

    I hope you still have many more years of feisty Quinn and that the wheelchair helps him. As a tip – we often put little booties or socks on Ty’s feet, as he dragged them and bloodied them up something terrible if walking on asphalt. The socks with the rubber grips also helped tremendously in giving him a good, stable grip in the home.

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    1. If we do end up buying him a wheelchair we’ll probably donate it to CorgiAid after we’re done with it. What they’re doing is really cool.

      I also looked at the Walkin Scooter from Walkin Pets as an indoor solution for him, but I want to see how/if he uses the wheelchair first.

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  7. Oh, I’m so sorry. I hope he takes well to the cart. That would really be wonderful for him. A friend of mine has a frenchie that is paralyzed in the back and gets around great in the cart. So fingers crossed Quinn does too! It’s so hard to watch our pets get older. P has developed some neuro stuff in the last year. She still gets around fine, but it’s hard to see her getting weaker in her advanced age.

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  8. Really glad you linked to that site- this whole time I thought “DM” was “diabetus mellitus”. Your DM is significantly more serious. So sorry for him. He’s lucky to have such caring people <3.

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  9. Never enough time, but sounds like he has the best time with your fam. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, but this guy sure is lucky to be loved by you!

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  10. Hate DM & especially breeders who don’t test for it. Sounds like Quinn is a lucky guy having you on his team. I’ve had Cardis for like forever myself.

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  11. Crossing my fingers that Quinn will like the wheelchair and have many more years with you guys! It is such a mix of reward and heartbreak rescuing older pups. I just got my third – a pit/bulldog mix somewhere north of 6 years old!

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  12. Quinn definitely had the best landing that any animal could hope for with this in his future. 🙂

    Totally agree with those who say that it is how the animal feels about their life that matters. Some animals don’t seem too bothered by their limitations, while others don’t want to live that way.

    I had a cat who became so decrepit as he aged, but as long as he could get around and boss people, he was all in. I had a horse who let me know all of his life that he did not want to be the sick and infirm horse, and when the day came too soon that he had a stack of increasingly debilitating conditions and a poor prognosis, he was clear that he wasn’t interested in dealing with it. Each of those animals made the call as to when they were ready to go on.

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  13. He is lucky to have you. The care and love you give all of your guys is amazing and unending. Enjoy the good times. Our JRT lived till she is was 20.

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  14. Good luck with the wheelchair. There was a local wheely dog who still roamed the neighborhoods with his pack, and was an absolute terror! My JRT turned 17 in March and is still going strong – ran laps around the kitchen island at dinner-time this evening. 😀

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  15. I’m so sorry. Currently facing a similar experience with my kelpie girl who I have had since she was 10 weeks old (also a rescue) and my first dog. Definitely not even close to prepared for how it will effect me emotionally.

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