More and more, Bubba sleeps the sleep of the dead. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glanced at him recently and thought, “Is he breathing?” And it takes a while to wake him up, as if he’s swimming up from some deep depth and then is startled to see somebody on the surface.
Seriously, if you had asked me two weeks ago which dog was not going to make it to the end of 2010, I would have said Bubba. He’s really slowed down this year: He doesn’t see or hear that great anymore and I had to stop taking him to the dog park because he would get so confused. He would suddenly stop, not knowing where I was. Then he would look off in some seemingly random direction, cock his head, decide that must be the way I went, and take off as fast as he could.
With Deimos sticking by my side like glue, Ruby taking off with every stranger she could meet, and Bubba either wandering aimlessly or suddenly beelining it for a far off juniper, I gave up on dog parks for a while.
In addition to his lifelong skin allergies, over the past year or so Bubba also started having episodes of “Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome” in which he falls over twitching as if he is having a seizure and then is unable to get up right away because his balance is off. The first time it happened, it was very scary – he kept leaning to the side and not being able to right himself, and his eyes were twitching rhythmically back and forth – I thought he’d had a stroke or something and I rushed him to the vet. However, it’s happened a handful of times now and about 10-15 minutes after an episode, he seems back to normal. Fortunately, he’s never had any resulting permanent symptoms like a head tilt, as apparently some dogs do. Since the cause is not known, there is no clear treatment path. He’s on some Chinese and herbal medicines, which seem to have slowed down the episodes, but not stopped them completely.
Hopefully, when Bubba does leave us for good, he’ll go in one of those deep sleeps of his, dreaming whatever pugs dream – maybe of dog parks in which guardians don’t get lost.