Bubba is a Shih Tzu who was rescued from the street by a friend of mine. He loved my friend with a singleness of heart and with deep devotion. His “mama” passed away after a long, hard battle with pancreatic cancer. She left Bubba to Harry and me because Harry (who wasn’t even sure he liked dogs) had fallen hard for Bubba when we cared for him while his mama was in the hospital, and had offered to take Bubba on as a foster child. It wasn’t long before Bubba became a full-fledged adopted “child.”
Bubba is a dog with a really big heart, and has always had a great joy in living. He liked to play, and run. When he runs, his little white poofy tail bounces up and down. And, he can always pack away the groceries–a prodigious amount for a 14-pound dog.
When he came to live with us after his mama died, he was like a lost soul for about a year. He had so many adjustments to make including the fact that an alpha male dog already lived here and wasn’t about to step down and let Bubba (who had been the alpha male at his mama’s) take over his turf. Eventually, they came to the point where they agreed to disagree with only a few mild skirmishes.
A couple of years ago, Bubba somehow ended up with a ruptured cornea (Shiz Tzu are prone to this). The vet tried to patch up the cornea, and failing that he removed Bubba’s right eye. Bubba quickly made the transition to Bubba the Pirate (minus the patch), and mostly learned to compensate for being partially blind even in his remaining eye. And it didn’t affect his love of his groceries.
About six months after the eye surgery, Bubba developed congestive heart failure, and the vet put him on water pills, and a heart muscle strengthener. Bubba slowed down a bit. He was more tired more often. He still liked to play, though, and it wasn’t a good idea to forget to feed him, or neglect to give him his treats.
Through all of this, somewhere along the road, Bubba gave his whole heart and undying affection to me. I tried to not get too involved. We already had two dogs, and two cats, and I still had my three children at home. I thought I didn’t have time for another dog. Bubba disagreed. He followed me all around the house. He wanted to be right up next to me when I sat down. He got depressed when I went out without him. Nothing mattered to him except to be where I was, and to be allowed to sit on my feet. Sometimes he even left his food if I left the room while he was eating. When I moved, he moved; when I stopped he was right there with me. His dogged determination prevailed, and I fell like a ton of brick.
Yesterday, I noticed that Bubba was acting a little funny, but I figured the heat and humidity were getting to him. By mid-afternoon, I realized that it was more than heat. He was walking into things, and refused his dinner. He was drinking, but I had to take him to the water bowl. Then, I noticed he was walking around and around in circles. After a bit of research on the ‘net, I realized he had had a stroke.
Evidently, there’s nothing that can be done to help a dog who has had a stroke. Often, the articles all said, a dog will come through it and, with tender loving care, be able to function again. He’s not incontinent, and he doesn’t seem to be in any pain. It does appear that he’s lost most of whatever vision he still had in his left eye, and he’s still not eating.
Given that basically all that a vet can do at this point is to run up a huge bill to make sure it is a stroke, and given our current financial status, all we can really do is pray, take care of Bubba, and wait to see if he will be able to function again, or if we need to do the last loving thing we can for him. Fourteen and a half years is a respectable age, but whenever we say goodbye, Bubba is going to take a part of my heart with him.