We took Boscoe in for another day-long glucose test on Tuesday. I'd been hoping to avoid doing this again--he hates it so much he starts shaking the second we pull into the parking lot, and I really hate to think of him lying in a cage all day, being poked every hour on the hour. But he was feeling so punk and drinking so much water and not eating that I figured I had to. One day of discomfort in exchange for many days of feeling better.
And that is exactly what happened. The vet did the glucose curve and adjusted his insulin, so hopefully he'll eat better and have a little more energy. And he drew blood and sent it out for testing.
Yesterday, he called with results. Boscoe's kidneys are failing. This explains the huge amount of water he's drinking--it's not diabetes related this time, but kidney related. So sad. But not a big surprise. His numbers were a little elevated last fall, and I had been worried that they had gotten worse. Knowing is hard, but it's better to know.
We can't fix his kidneys, but we can do a few things to make him feel better. So yesterday on my way home from work I stopped at Tim and Tom's Speedy Mart and spent $30 on fresh ground beef, Maalox, Tums and Pepcid. I know what you're thinking: Yum! The ground beef-Maalox-Pepcid casserole just like Mom used to make!
Well, it's part of the kidney diet for ailing dogs. I can't remember exactly what all these things do--the Maalox removes some of the phosphorous from his body (I think), and the Pepcid helps his stomach feel better, and the Tums have calcium, and the ground beef, well, that's his nourishment.
And last night I cooked up a pan of ground beef, egg, and bread, and oh my gosh Boscoe devoured about half of it. This morning he gobbled down the rest; I haven't seen him eat this enthusiastically in months.
But... Riley. Poor Riley. He stood off to the side, watching intently, whimpering softly. For months now he's watched as we fed Boscoe lovely smelly canned foods slathered in gravy and chunks of meat. He's watched as Boscoe has grown weaker and we began feeding him by hand, first while he was standing, more recently as he lies in his bed. Boscoe lounges against the pillows like a sultan and we hold out palmfuls of delicacies, which he sometimes deigns to eat and sometimes declines.
And Riley stands quietly off to the side, watching, suffering.
Dogs do have a sense of justice, you know. What you do for one you have to do for the other. And so I have always been careful to give Riley a tiny bit of chicken, a little dollop of canned food on his kibble, a sliver of cheese. But he can clearly see that the treatment is not equitable.
We try to make it up to him in other ways. He gets so many walks--Doug takes him at 5:30 a.m., and I take him again at 7:30 a.m., and the wonderful dog walker comes in the afternoon and takes him again, and I walk him at least around the block and often farther after I get home from work.
On the weekends, we load up our iPods with RTE documentaries and Radiolab shorts and walk him for hours through the neighborhood. We stop halfway at a coffeeshop and get coffee and milkbones.
But walks are not food, and he isn't thinking about those walks when he's watching me hand over warm, greasy blobs of lovely fried hamburger to the reclining Boscoe. No, he is thinking, life isn't fair! And life is supposed to be fair! And I ... want ... hamburger..... TOO.
Boscoe makes him nervous in other ways. This morning Boscoe pivoted in the kitchen and then fell, sitting down in the water dish; Riley did not like that at all. You think I'm gonna drink out of that now? he was clearly asking as he watched in fury. Huh? You think I'm gonna drink out of butt water?
When Boscoe falls, or staggers, or cleverly leans against something (a chair, my legs, the refrigerator) in order to stay upright, like Dean Martin, Riley is watching. When Boscoe has trouble standing up and needs to be hoisted, Riley is watching. When Boscoe has accidents in the kitchen or needs to be carried outside to do his business, Riley is watching.
Still, I worry that we have one stressed-out little dog on our hands. And I'm not sure how to make it up to him, or how to make it easier.
At least they are still good pals. I think that helps. But in the end it might make it even harder.