The Story Of Sarge
My wife and I are lying in bed; it’s 6:30am. It’s the first morning that our old dog Sarge (a 13yr old Belgian Malinois) is not in bed with us. Every morning for the past few months, my wife, Jess, would check on Sarge around 5am, listening for him to drink water or begin to stir. Then she would quickly encourage him with “C’mon Boy!” and spring to her feet to help him. After taking him to pee, Sarge would get his old dog pills and spend the next hour sleeping between us. Getting up onto the bed went from a hop up to using steps to a ramp to my wife picking up a 75 pound Malinois and putting him on the bed. We clung to small rituals as though they would hold off the inevitable. We wanted our old dog to feel as though life was ok even if he needed a little help here and there. His strength and proprioception were slipping away, but his spirit and attitude were strong.
Sarge was diagnosed with an aortic tumor 11 months ago. It was found through an ultrasound when we were trying to figure out why his liver was close to failing. At that time, Sarge was 12 years old. We were told by our western vet that there weren’t a lot of options. We decided to treat Sarge holistically. I would urge any skeptics of TCVM or even energy healing to consider this perspective. Alternative therapies work similarly to western medicine when it comes to terminal conditions. Some are cured, others see noticeable results, and some see no benefit. I recently had a doctor tell me this, and it helped me understand and better accept alternative treatments. Up to this point in my life, my perception of many things was very black and white. It works or it’s bullshit. If it’s fake then these ‘doctors’ are quacks; they are just taking people’s money, selling herbs and hope to desperate people.
I can tell you as a side note that my mom passed away from cancer a few years ago, and she went the conventional route for treatment. After many chemotherapy treatments, steroids, weeks of dialysis, and hundreds of doctor visits, she didn’t get cured. My mom responded to the treatments, and they did prolong her life. But, her ‘end of life’ stage was brutal, and I’d never put one of my dogs through that hell. We all will be faced with hard choices when we commit to caring for a dog. There are difficult emotional decisions that will need to be made along the way as well as various ethical and financial responsibilities. Regardless of the type of medicine you choose, the days will come when we all need to be there for our old dogs.
When Sarge began having trouble with pain, we tried CBD. It didn’t show any measurable results. We decided to make the leap to using cannabis oil that contained THC as well as CBD. We made it ourselves at home and began giving him tiny doses. It helped a great deal. He slept better and the muscles in his shoulders stopped twitching. It was really impressive. We started giving him the oil twice a day. It was well worth the expense and hassle of making it. Over the past year we also did acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, acupressure, laser therapy, underwater treadmill, biking, walking, swimming, Tong Ren healing, and many other treatments on a regular basis. It was a whirlwind of appointments with more good days than bad. We also spoiled the old boy rotten. He got more pizza crust and Puppuccinos than I’m comfortable admitting. In the end, we would not have changed a thing. We were determined to focus on quality of life. Sarge had a great life!
His younger years were spent with his mom traveling the country doing canine entertainment at state fairs and halftime shows at sporting events. He could jump over a 58” hurdle! He was more athletic than many Malinois that I have seen, but more importantly, he was a sweet dog. I found that unusual for a Malinois. I had raised and trained several before I met Sarge. None were as social or as outgoing as he was. My dogs were always hard, edgy, and a bit dangerous to be honest. Thankfully, he wound up with my wife. They were really the perfect pair. She understood his nature and his needs. He protected her while she pumped gas alone at truck stops across the country.
Now all the rituals and routines have come to an abrupt end. Yesterday
Sarge woke up and had a good drink of water. He seemed to be on yet another upswing. But later in the morning, he lost all feeling in his back legs. He likely threw a blood clot, but it doesn’t matter why. The time had come for us to make that final trip. Now he’s gone. There is an emptiness. We had to pick up all his soiled bedding. The place where he slept for the past year is now just open floor. My heart is broken. I miss him so much. But I am a better person because of that dog. He brought out the best in me as a person. I will never forget the love he gave us. I needed a dog like Sarge in my life. He taught me how to be a kinder person and to accept real feelings of love, empathy, and compassion. Thanks, Sarge, for coming into my life and sharing so many beautiful moments. You have touched my life deeply, and I am forever changed. Thank you also to all the vets, practitioners, and friends for your constant and heartfelt support throughout his journey.
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On this episode, Scott and Jess talk about how to care for your senior dog. They discuss issues they have seen with older dogs and offer valuable advice about how to avoid and deal with the problems you may encounter.