Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages


Blog

Henry

(Work In Progress: output at 20/11/2022 18:20:33)

Colour ConventionsNote Citations


Introduction


Bertie
Sections
  1. Introduction
  2. Selection
  3. The first days
  4. Puppyhood
  5. Character
  6. Poos & Wees
  7. Training
  8. Play
  9. Diet
  10. Sleeping arrangements
  11. Walkies
  12. Other dogs
  13. Holidays
  14. Illnesses
  15. Irritants
  16. Grooming
  17. The End
  18. The Future

Text

  1. Introduction
    1. We’d never had a dog. Neither of us had had a dog as children, though Julie had had cats. As a family we’d had rabbits, Guinee pigs and hamsters, and had inherited our elder daughter Becky’s cat (a boy called Mouse). Also, lots of chickens. We didn’t consider ourselves to be ‘doggie people3’: too much of a distraction, for a start.
    2. But now I’d retired, and we’d bought a big house with a large garden on a country road, why not …?
    3. It was really Becky’s idea, and she paid the £800 for the initial purchase, though immediately bequeathed Henry to us to maintain.
    4. Her initial thought was to buy an Italian Greyhound4, because they look so sweet and can be fitted into a large handbag. But we decided it might break a leg belting round our new garden, and also be too much work to exercise.
    5. So, after some research we decided on a Tibetan Terrier5 – a more robust middle-sized dog – partly because Steve, our carpenter, had one. The reasons were that they are highly sociable, good with children, laid back, don’t require too much exercise, aren’t yappy and don’t moult.
  2. Selection
  3. The first days
  4. Puppyhood
    → Ankles
    → Plumbing
    → Scissors, baskets, trowels, …
    → Eating plastic bag, plastic toy
    → Angie’s address book
    → Neutering
  5. Character
    → Stubbornness
    → Compliance
    → Social Skills
    → Sideways glances
    → Intelligence
    → fireworks
    → barking / guests / postmen
  6. Poos & Wees
    → Spinning poos
    → Choosy wees
  7. Training
  8. Play
    → The blanket game
    → Chasing with a cane
  9. Diet
    → Grits
    → The tap
    → Treatlets
    → Dental Treats
  10. Sleeping arrangements
    → The cage
    → Sofas
    → Bedtime in Norfolk
  11. Walkies
    → First visit to Coxes Farm
    → He chooses the way
    → Turn Left
    → Bridle path
    → Turn Right
    → Footbridge
    → Neighbours
    → Long walks
  12. Other dogs
    1. Henry was basically happy in the company of other dogs. He was on occasion sorely tempted by Poppy – our friends’ slightly hyperactive cockerpoo – who would try to eat his food and take his place on the sofa, but was usually quite compliant.
    2. However, he had a ‘thing’ about Alsatians and other wolf-like dogs.
      • If approached by just one of them he’d try to attack it, much to the surprise of the unfortunate dog, presumably surprised to be attacked by a medium-sized bundle of fluff. This happened once in a pub in Langham, Norfolk, where he was surprised by a large Alsatian going past the table we were dining at. He had it by the throat and I had to separate them and gave Henry a big smack (which I regretted: it was mainly for the benefit of the Alsatian’s rather annoyed owners, and I don’t know whether Henry’s motivation was protective – either virtuously of us, or selfishly and pre-emptively of himself, or purely instinctive).
      • I had a theory that Tibetan Terriers’ evolutionary history would predispose them to attack wolves, given that they were guard dogs. I had a similar theory about Henry’s antipathy to motorcycles (and horses) – to fight off marauders – and helicopters – standing in for eagles.
      • It’s dangerous to develop an inductive argument from a sample of one, as I’ve learnt from experience with Bertie, our new puppy. Bertie has no such antipathy to Alsatians – there are two up out road – Max and Finn – who bound to their gate as we go past, barking their heads off6, Bertie is completely unperturbed and wants to play, straining to rub noses with them (not a good idea if he wants to keep his).
      • Also, Tibetan Terriers’ historic role was to bark on encountering intruders to alert the Tibetan Mastiffs who would do the actual fighting.
      • So, his antipathy to Alsatians – as is the case for most dogs with antipathies to certain other dogs – is most likely down to past experience. There are two that I’m aware of:-
        1. Henry was involved in an altercation with an Alsatian in Norsey Woods, Billericay, when Julie was out walking with our friend Debbie and her dogs. I wasn’t there, so don’t know the details.
        2. The altercation I’m very well aware of is one outside Crays Hall Farm. Henry and I had gone for a long walk, in the days when Henry ‘did’ long walks, and were on our way back past the farm in the direction of the bridle path via the converted church. On the way past the long drive to the farm we saw two dogs – a large Alsatian and a small Staffie – in the distance belting in our direction, barking their heads off7. I’d hoped they’d stop at the entrance even though the gate was open, but they didn’t. Henry hid behind my legs – so much for your faithful hound defending his owner to the last drop of his blood – but, when the Alsatian bit his bottom, squealed and pulled his head out of the lead and ran off up the road (thankfully single-track, with no cars). I was relieved that they left me alone, and Henry seemed OK though presumably scarred psychologically (his bottom seemed fine).
  13. Holidays
    → Norfolk
    → Dorset
    → Old Bags
    → Left behind
  14. Illnesses
    → Vets
    → Allergies
    → Ears
    → Eyes
    → Knee dislocation
    → Reverse sneezing
    → Auto-immune
    → Dysentery
    → Hypo-thyroidism
    → Liver cancer
  15. Irritants
    → Scratching
    → Smelly dog
  16. Grooming
    → Dial-a-Dogwash
    → Natasha
    → Home Showering
  17. The End
    1. The last weeks:
      • The trouble with this section is that – while the events were in progress – I wasn’t cognisant of their importance in Henry’s life or – rather – death. So, I didn’t keep notes and may have got the details, timing and interrelationships wrong. Additionally, the weather was hotter than it had ever been in this country, so it wasn’t clear whether lethargy was down to the heat or something more sinister.
      • Firstly, Henry got even more scratchy than usual, so we took him to the vets. His usual vet – Alan – was unavailable for family reasons, so he was seen by a Greek lady who prescribed Piriton anti-histamine tablets and suggested that he be showered weekly with some gentle shampoo. According to the bottle, the procedure was to dowse and shampoo him, leave the shampoo on for 10 minutes and then shower it off. The procedure went fine because it was great drying weather, and allowed for walkies which might otherwise have been forbidden in the near 40-degree sunshine. All well and good, though I’m not sure it did any good as far as the scratching was concerned: the vet also said that we shouldn’t irritate his neck using a collar, but removing it just gave Henry an easier scratch, so that most of the fur in that area got scratched off and his neck got bloodied. Also, we had to guess the Piriton dosage and there was a covid outbreak at the vets which made enquiries and general continuity difficult. Only the most urgent emergencies could be accommodated.
      • Then Henry went off his grits. Like all dogs, I suppose, he was less than enthusiastic about his kibble unless tempted by various tasty morsels placed on top. But, in his last few weeks Henry absolutely refused to eat any of them. He became adept at extracting the morsels – usually chicken – from amongst the kibble, however well mixed in they were. So, we had to supplement his diet. Julie produces a puree of chicken and vegetables which he wolfed down on a few occasions before getting bored with it.
      • Around this time he developed a strange clicking sound in his jaw, or otherwise around his mouth. We took him back to the vets to get him checked out and saw a third vet, this time a Spanish lady who’d spent a lot of time in France and who saw him through to the end. He’d also started sicking up copious amounts of bright yellow liquid – presumably yellow bile – which was also worrying, especially when it landed on my shoes. All this resulted in him starting to lose weight: down to something like 15.5 Kg, from his rather plump 18Kg.
      • I was concerned that there might be some mechanical problem with his jaw, or maybe his teeth, but the vet couldn’t find anything wrong, though she noticed that he was very sensitive about one side being prodded. She thought the clicking could have been a sort of slurping sound caused by the bile, but I wasn’t convinced. This was never really followed up. I do think, though, that this was a cause of his refusing to eat his dry kibble, despite it having been a large part of his diet for years. Initially he’d agree to eat it moistened, as it is given to puppies, but soon gave up.
      • The vet thought there was something wrong with some glands in his neck, and took a biopsy. She also took blood samples and a non-sedated ultrasound scan of his belly, shaving off bits of fur to enable the same. Henry was a very good and compliant dog throughout all this procedure.
      • As time went by, Henry increasingly refused his food, despite the abandonment of his kibble and its replacement by various tastier and easier to eat alternatives. We’ve ended up with rather a lot of tins where he was initially enthusiastic, but then refused the next tin. As he ate less and less roughage, he ended up with squirty poos and having to have his bottom wiped. He didn’t seem to view this as demeaning, though.
      • Eventually, he had further scans and a liver biopsy when sedated. The scans required most of his fur to be removed from his stomach area, making him look rather silly, but only revealed that his spleen had been displaced by his liver to the extent that the vet found it hard to find. The results of his biopsy – fluid taken from liver – showed no bacterial infection, so the vet thought that the problem could only be cancer. We could have allowed more invasive surgery – ‘opening him up’ – to settle the matter definitively, but decided that this would cause him unnecessary suffering and was in any case somewhat idle – not to say expensive – as we had no intention, given his age, of inflicting chemotherapy or other nasty treatments on him.
      • Well, in his last few weeks he tried to carry on with his tail up. Julie and I took him jointly on short slow walks. On the final one of these he collapsed after only 500 metres and had to be carried back home. Often on his walks we say no-one, but this time we saw a number of neighbours who enquired as to his well-being, and even a passing cyclist stopped to ask how he was.
      • As it happened, Julie had her 70th birthday party at the end of August. We’d planned a grander gathering, but scaled things down since Henry was so ill. We have a photo of him8 lying in front of the guests for a group photo, looking rather disreputable given his shaved belly. He was really on form, very sociable, and even went scavenging for – and ate – lots of titbits, just like his old self. We hoped he’d turned a corner. Sadly, this was not so.
      • The appointment for his annual injections happened to be due in a couple of days, so we repurposed it for what was to be his final check-up, with the understanding – based on the results of the biopsy, which we’d not yet received, what if the prognosis was terrible, he’d be put down there and then.
    2. The walk to the scaffold:
      • Henry had eaten nothing the day before, so it was encouraging that he ate a scrambled egg from Julie’s hand in the morning. We’d stopped trying to persuade him – or to deceive him – into taking his thyroxin tablets for the last couple of days, given that it seemed to further put him off even the tastiest morsel and he had only a few days to live in any case, most likely. This mini-meal was only a tiny fraction of his required calory intake, but it made me hope against hope that he might stagger on for a few more days. Julie was less optimistic.
      • Around 15:40 we harnessed him up – he didn’t really respond to the routine ‘paw’ whereby he’d raise his right paw so it could be threaded through the harness (he was never so responsive to ‘other paw’, but he never used to resist). His leg was so light and thin. Well, he plodded off to the car – gingerly stepping over the back-door-step, which is hardly a step at all. Historically he’d have leapt into the back seat of the old Fiesta, latterly occasionally rapping a knee on the way up though without complaining. Today he was far too weak to jump or even be helped up, so had to be bundled in. After strapping him in I thought of riding in the back seat with him, but thought he’d find this unusual and unsettling, so contented myself with giving him an occasional stroke from the front passenger seat; not an easy manipulation, so I stopped when he seemed contentedly flopped. The journey was uneventful, with no other dogs to bark at in his ear-splitting way. Stop that Henry!
      • We’d taken the Fiesta rather than the Insignia as parking at the Vet’s is at a premium so the smaller the car the better. When we got there the place was chockers, so Julie – the expert parker, and hence the driver on this occasion – queued up while a jumble of cars unscrambled themselves. Fortuitously a gap opened up and Julie was able to slip the car into a non-parking space – a narrow gap right next to the entrance by the poo-bin.
      • Despite this prime parking spot, things looked less than auspicious in that a man with a large Alsatian was standing next to the ramp which we’d imagined would be all Henry could manage. Historically, Henry would have done his pieces as he had a ‘thing’ about Alsatians and other wolf-alikes, as I’ve already explained. However, he wasn’t up to engaging with it, and thankfully it wasn’t interested either.
      • So be on the safe side, we assisted Henry to climb the couple of fairly steep steps that join on the ramp, so he was able to enter the vet’s under his own steam. It was less busy than I’d expected given the dodgems outside. To the left was a grumpy couple trying to control a bruiser of a staffie-type dog, and – maybe9 – a lady with a cat-basket. Again, no barking.
      • We weighed him on the way in, as is routine. He’d dropped to 12.6 Kg from his healthy weight of 18 Kg. He’d been 16 Kg a couple of weeks earlier when we first brought him in when he’d got fussy with his eating after his jaw started making clicking noises. We dithered about in the lobby before being asked to sit down by the receptionist. Then after a couple of minutes the vet arrived. Henry had seen her on a couple of occasions before recently: a kindly Spanish lady who’d spent many years in France, according to an earlier receptionist. As I’ve mentioned before, Henry never had any fear of vets and treats a visit as a grand day out. So, despite his previous visit having involved a sedation and biopsy and the one before that having involved the non-sedated giving of samples of blood and serum from glands in his neck, he still wagged his tail on seeing the vet approach.
      • The vet was shocked at how much he’d weakened over the past week. It was true – he looked terrible. His abdomen looked normal, other than that it had been shaved to enable ultrasound scans the previous week, but it was mostly his tumour-afflicted liver. Otherwise, he was skeletally thin, though this was disguised somewhat by his luxurious fur. She was adamant that this was the end for Henry, and we agreed. We’d discussed and rejected more invasive investigation and treatment at a previous consultation. We couldn’t let him starve to death and lose control of his bodily functions.
      • So, we were taken to a consulting room where the procedure was explained to us and a consent form signed. Then Henry was led away to a further consulting room where he was fitted out with a catheter in his front right leg to make the lethal injection easier to administer. We’d ordered a book - "Glazebrook (Louise) - The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read" - which had arrived that morning from Amazon – what had a Chapter on canine euthanasia, so we knew what to expect, especially as we’d previously had a similar experience with Mouse, our late cat.
      • The book had led us to believe that Henry would come back sedated, but he was alert. He had the catheter strapped on with blue tape. He was such a gentle and trusting dog that sedation would not have been necessary. We were allowed to spend a last few minutes with him alone. This is difficult to write.
      • How can anyone know what would be going on in a dog’s mind in such circumstances. Is he trusting us to make him better, or just to help him out. I don’t know why he stopped eating. He didn’t seem in any obvious pain – we were told that there are no pain-receptors in the liver and that he wouldn’t have pain from the tumour. Maybe he always felt full because of the pressure on his stomach. Maybe he didn’t want to live any more. We had a guinea-pig when the children were young which we found dead in its hutch one morning. It appeared to have asphyxiated itself by squashing its face into a corner of the hutch. Maybe animals know when their lives are no longer worth living and take whatever action they can.
      • Well, we stroked him and I took his head in my hands and stared into his tired eyes. He stared back as he always did, and I then let his head lie down on the table. The vet then came in and we agreed the procedure could start. She had a surprisingly large syringe of yellow liquid which was placed in the catheter. As usual, Henry was fully compliant. She started to inject the liquid and after a couple of seconds Henry raised his head. For a second I was worried that the procedure was unpleasant for him, but immediately his head fell back down and he was gone. No spasms or growling; just silence.
      • We were left with him for another few minutes. I needed to pat and stroke his dead but still warm body for the last time, even though he was gone. Naturally, we were in tears. But he was at peace, and hadn’t had to suffer the indignities of a really old dog – deafness, blindness, incontinence, dementia, and all the other concomitants of senility they don’t tell you about when you buy a puppy.
      • Then the formalities. We were offered the option of exiting by the back door and paying the final bill another time, but we decided to get it all over with there and then. We’re not sentimental about remains – animal or human. We don’t visit graves. So, Henry’s body has been cremated and his ashes presumably interred in a common grave. I don’t want to dig too deep in that direction. We declined the offer of ‘his ashes’. We’re told anecdotally that you don’t actually get your own dog’s ashes, but a representative sample. Not that it would matter.
      • So, out we went back through reception. ‘Henry isn’t it’, said the receptionist before looking at her screen, then ‘Oh, I’m so sorry … would you like to pay another time …’. Julie retreated to the car, and I paid the bill which included the cost of his final biopsy. We left, exhausted and with a sense of emptiness. We wanted our lovely dog back.
      • It had been only 5 days from the above events when I wrote this. There have been many tears. So many things remind you of the departed family member. No one to hoover up the food the grandchildren drop, no-one to take you for walkies, no-one to demand his dental treat at 18:00 precisely. I found myself crying out – in private, at least – “Henry, my dog, my dog” and bursting into tears10. Hopefully memories that are now painful will become precious. I’ve written this account so they don’t completely fade, or get confused with the antics of the next dog, when there is one….
  18. The Future
    1. We’d initially decided to wait 6 months before acquiring a new dog, partly for cash-flow reasons (an investment matures at the end of March 2023), partly to allow time for reflection and partly to allow for a holiday with friends to Tenerife in February 2023. But henry left such a large hole in our lives that we decided to make some initial investigations.
    2. We initially considered a rescue dog – and a very needy-looking Saluki11 called Oliver came up via Wallace Kennels Dog Rescue. We applied, but were rejected as having grandchildren who might be at risk from a dog of unknown background and as having the wrong lifestyle for a young boy-racer. And none of their other dogs would suit, either. Oddly, after we’d acquired our next dog, I received an email asking whether we were still interested in Oliver. Sadly, we couldn’t accommodate him anymore. I hope he found a home.
    3. So, we looked via Champdogs and found Champdogs - Pinrow - Litter of Show Tibetan Terrier Puppies (Champdogs - Pinrow). See also Pinrow Tibetan Terriers. There were two puppies available: one the absolute image of Henry, and the other white and sable. We’d been warned by "Glazebrook (Louise) - The Book Your Dog Wishes You Would Read" not to go by ‘looks’, but Bertie – as we have called him – seemed to have the right personality to go with his good looks. This has happily been borne out by subsequent experience.



In-Page Footnotes:

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: Footnote 3: Footnote 4: Footnote 5: Footnotes 6, 7: Footnote 8: Footnote 9: Footnote 10: Philosophical footnote: Footnote 11:



Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
20/11/2022 18:20:34 1341 (Henry) None




Summary of Notes Citing This Note

Status: Personal Identity (2022 - September), 2 Status: Priority Task List (2022 - November) Status: Summary (2022 - September), 2    

To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.




Text Colour Conventions

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2022
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)




© Theo Todman, June 2007 - Sept 2022.Please address any comments on this page to theo@theotodman.com.File output:
Website Maintenance Dashboard
Return to Top of this PageReturn to Theo Todman's Philosophy PageReturn to Theo Todman's Home Page