I'll keep you posted.
Barkley's move from Texas is on hold for now. If my niece hasn't changed her mind in a couple of weeks, I hope he can join us then, but for the immediate future I have to put Butch and Levi's needs first.
Levi is on strict crate confinement for two weeks to try to clear up a limp that his vets still think is bursitis. He had a whole series of x-rays on Monday, none of which showed any bone or joint abnormalities, so we're hoping that complete rest will heal what ails him.
Butch, in the meantime, has been perkier in the last week than he's been in at least a year. He's been so stiff and arthritic that I can't recall the last time he was able to get up on the furniture, but I looked up the other day and was shocked to see him sitting comfortably on the futon in the den. I don't know what made him decide to give it a try on that particular day, but he's been up there several times since then, apparently happy that his attempt was successful. Here he is relaxing on the futon with Lucy:
Butch has also been more social lately, spending more time interacting with people and other dogs and less time off by himself sleeping in another room. He seems to be hearing better than he did for months previously, and if I so much as crack open the refrigerator, he is up and coming into the kitchen to investigate. I've used his interest in food as an indicator that he still finds something positive about life in spite of his blindness, near deafness, and painful joints.
All that sounds good, don't you think? But there's a problem. When I took him for a checkup early in November, the vet commented on one tooth that looked really bad, saying he wouldn't risk putting Butch under anesthesia to pull the tooth (because of his age). He said to watch for any swelling around Butch's mouth or any signs that he was having difficulty eating.
Last night Butch didn't want his supper. He accepted a treat I offered him later, but promptly dropped it on the floor and left it. I pulled his lips back to check the appearance of the bad tooth, and I couldn't even find it. Since that veterinary visit less than two months ago, Butch's upper gum tissue has grown and hangs down to obscure all of his upper back teeth.
I have looked on the Internet for pictures of dogs' mouths that look like Butch's, and I believe what he has is an epulis. An epulis is a non-malignant tumor that occurs fairly commonly in older dogs. The problem in Butch's case is that treatment consists of the surgical removal of the epulis. In Butch's case surgery is not an option.
Butch needs to go to the vet, but riding in the car has become pure torture for him. He fights me when I try to get him into the car, and his whole body shakes until he is out of it again. I don't want to make him suffer more than necessary, and I am afraid he may not come home from his next trip to the vet.
I have taken a photo of the growth on his gums and will take it with me when I take Levi today to see if they will/can identify it from the picture. If it is what I think it is, I have a decision to make. Should I have Butch put down now, while he's in a relatively happy state of mind, or should I wait until he's in so much pain that death is the only way to make him comfortable? I don't want to deprive him of a single happy minute, but this brave animal has already endured so much pain in his lifetime. Is it fair to keep him alive when a long, hard winter may be all the future that lies ahead of him?
I'm praying for answers. What would you do?