Monday, May 21, 2012

Sophia's stayin' alive

Over the last week, Sophia has been avoiding all meat-based food including, above all, her customary croquettes. She's surviving on raw eggs, fragments of apple and bits of bread.

Last Friday, I described this situation to the veterinarian, who said that my dog's self-imposed diet was indeed unorthodox, but by no means catastrophic.

These days, since the weather has been warm and dry, I've been encouraging Sophia to spend her nights out on the lawn with Fitzroy, instead of on the kitchen floor (her customary bedroom). If she has an urgent need to urinate or defecate, being outside is convenient (rather than barking to wake me up in the middle of the night, to let her out). Well, when I got up yesterday morning, I was surprised to find that Sophia, for the first time ever, had apparently spent the night as a squatter in Fitzroy's kennel.

This unusual behavior alarmed me in that I couldn't help wondering whether Sophia was maybe searching instinctively for a place in which she might doze off into eternal sleep. Twenty minutes later, she emerged from the kennel, did her business up alongside her familiar track, and promptly took off in the wrong direction, sliding down the grassy slopes through the weeds, and ending up in a spot that was too steep for me to access. She continued her descent, guided by Fitzroy, until she reached the road. Then she decided that it would be a good idea to quench her thirst in the creek and to take a bath in a waterhole. I had to go out of my way to persuade her to stroll back up to the house.

Back home, Sophia chose to take a nap in another unusual setting: on a mound of rocky earth at the far end of the ancient cellar behind the house. Normally, she only goes there on exceptionally hot days... which was not the case yesterday. Later on, she decided to spend some time in the most unusual spot of all: a narrow tunnel dug into the hill behind the house, which I've always imagined as an ancient hiding-place back in the days when the prosperous vineyards of Choranche were often attacked by Protestant bandits. When Sophia emerged from the tunnel, I began to wonder whether my dear dog might be the victim of a sudden onslaught of senility. To rule out the possibility that she might wander off down the road in the early hours of the morning, I decided that it would be wise to attach her to Fitzroy's chain alongside the kennel. Meanwhile, I boarded up the entry to the tunnel.

Yesterday evening, I was so enthralled by a TV show that I didn't even realize that it was raining heavily. When I went outside, around midnight, Sophia had left the kennel and was lying down in the wet grass, totally soaked. I rushed the two dogs into the kitchen, put Sophia onto a cotton sheet to dry her out, and turned on the heating. There was a marvelous moment of complicity as Fitzroy started to lick Sophia's wet fur.

This morning, everything seems to have returned to normal... and Fitzroy is still watching over his old aunt. If the two animals appear to be wet, it's because they had just spent 20 minutes on the slopes, in the rain, while Sophia went about her business. With the rain and mud outside, and all the coming and going, the kitchen floor is like a pigpen... but I can't be worried about that. My only aim, in the immediate future, is to take care of Sophia as best I can.

Once again, Sophia downed three raw eggs for breakfast. I remain worried, of course, by the fact that she's unenthusiastic about any other food. Still I'm relieved that she never whimpers, and does not seem to be in pain. Curiously, her nose hasn't been running at all since yesterday... which might (or might not) be a positive sign.


  1. Oh elle est belle dans la niche de Fitzroy!
    Love to you 3

  2. I don't know much about dogs, but as for cats, cortisone and Sophia's behaviour you describe is the beginning of the end.

    You know all this - death is part of live.

    I just want to share my experience with you. Last summer, one of my cats, Moustache, died at the age of 17. Cortisone had no effect on him and he didn't eat any more - he lost a lot of weight. But he never showed any sign of sufferings, on the contrary, he continued to purr (a purring cat is synonym of happiness, but cats also purr in order to reassure themselves or the others), until one day when he looked at me saying that he was tired...

    Sophia was/is very happy with you and she will not tell you that she is suffering. Just don't miss the sign when she will tell you that she has enough. Although the decision is very difficult to take, she will thank you and you will be in peace with yourself.

    Think of her and don't be selfish when the moment comes. She will continue to live with you in your heart.

  3. You're very lucky to have Fitzroy to keep an eye on Sophia (and you!). Please keep updating us on them both, and your response to them. I am thinking of you all.