Most people think that caregivers take care of people. That's not always the case.
I was almost asleep Tuesday night when I heard an unfamiliar sound. I thought perhaps it was the cat or a squirrel in the barn. The scraping, bumping continued. I went downstairs to find the German Shepherd lying by the woodstove, legs moving as if he were galloping. It's not unusual to see any of our dogs do this, to a lesser extent, when they dream, but Meister's eyes were open and he was moving himself around on the rug. He couldn't get up. The rug was wet with his saliva and urine. He lost control of his bowels.
Almost two years ago our miniature lop-eared angora bunny did the same thing. He couldn't get up. I took him to the vet and came home with syringes, needles, IV solution, antibiotics - my kitchen looked like a hospital. My husband became my assistant as we nursed, bathed and spoon fed bunny. Bunny got better but his head remained tilted and he can only hop in a clockwise direction, otherwise he falls over. When bunny had a relapse we didn't have much hope. We tried a chemotherapy drug - it worked but bunny stopped drinking. Back to spoon feeding, IV hydration.
I petted and talked softly to Meister, while bunny slept and our two other dogs looked on. Meister was a second-hand dog and having my face close to his muzzle made me nervous. He was disoriented. Even though Meister had spent seven years with us, he still had not so pleasant memories of early life with another family, of being chained to a doghouse, no toys, no positive human interaction. When I brought him home from the shelter it was hard to tell who was driving the car - he sat in my lap all the way home.
As I talked and petted, Meister calmed, his heart rate slowed. There was no recognition in his eyes. What would happen now? He tried to get up. I held my breath. He stood. Meister wobbled around the room, stopping long enough to look at me, but wouldn't let me touch him. Finally he lay down behind my chair.