Saturday, 25 April 2009


I've been meaning to write an "Ollie update" for ages but there has not been much to report. He continues to be a very old dog, with severe arthritis, BUT, his quality of life is good, the acupuncture is making a huge difference to his mobility and (we hope) to his pain levels and generally - given he is the human equivalent of about 98 years old - he's not doing badly.

Yesterday afternoon however, he scared the wits out of me. He was having a "slow day" and refused to get off his bed. Despite regular visits and suggestions from me that we go for a WALK, go OUT, go into the GARDEN plus every other trigger word I could think of, he was very comfortable, thank you, and "more zzzzzz's would be quite acceptable, so please will you quit with the interruptions"? As he seems to have a mega-sized leak-proof bladder, we don't force the issue until it gets to silly o'clock.

So out we went, and he happily wandered about, pee'd a few times, sniffed at lots of things, said "hello" to his girlfriend, an elderly Retriever who lives a few doors away, and the walk was proceeding in a totally normal fashion. Until he "gagged" a couple of times as if he had a bit of stick caught between his teeth and then collapsed. He had a long and frightening seizure which seemed to last for at least 60 seconds. He was gagging for breath, bulging eyes, convulsing, couldn't stand. Eventually it ceased and he struggled to get up, but until then I honestly thought he was going to die in my arms whilst I tried, and failed, to do anything for him. I was able to call a neighbour whose husband came rushing over and carried all 30kg of limp dog back to our garden by which time I had phoned our vet.

Within 15 minutes a vet and nurse arrived from Millcroft. By now Ollie was trying to walk around, very unsteady, very anxious and wanting to be close, very stressed. Diazepam was administered to calm him down (which he objected strenuously to) and the initial diagnosis was epilepsy. My friend arrived to see if she could help and comforted Ollie in the back of my car whilst we followed the vet back to the surgery (in their haste they'd come in a car, not the ambulance, and it was easier to transport Ollie in our vehicle). He spent the afternoon in a quiet, cool room on a drip and did not fit again. With the benefit of hindsight I deeply regret this much intervention because he hated being at the vets but at the time, we did not know what the hell else to do.

Whilst this was going on Management was 100+ miles away on the M6. In hindsight I wish I had not phoned him because I now know how fast he completed the rest of the journey, but he's since said "what else could you do?" and we've agreed that it would have been worse, in a way, for him to find out when he got home.

We collected him at 7.00pm. Based on my description of the symptoms, the vet discharging him feels this was what is called a "soft palette seizure", usually only found in King Charles Spaniels. The soft palette collapses and blocks the airway. He has regular acupuncture scheduled for Monday which we will continue with, a check up with his usual vet on Wednesday, and if she feels he is up to it, we will proceed with an appointment that afternoon at the vets' grooming studio to have a summer hair cut.

He spent Friday evening comfortably on the sofa with me, eating ravenously (apparently that's the Diazepam), and generally behaving fairly normally. He's the only one who did have a normal evening. Max is obviously concerned but doing the man-thing and trying not to show it and I spent the evening with one of those horrible post-shock headaches that will not go away having had a very big, very frightening wake-up call. I might have talked to friends recently about Ollie's age and the fact that "he might not be with us for much longer" but I learnt in no uncertain terms that there is absolutely no way I am ready to say 'good bye' to a small Hairy Person who is such a huge part of our lives. Sorry this is so long and wordy, but I needed to write it all down and doing so has been very cathartic.


  1. Awwww Ollie!

    I hope the weekend gives you all a bit of time to cool down from the panic.

    (Just felt the urge to post a big Awwww Ollie! comment..)


  2. Thanks Matthew, yes, today has been much better thanks and we're settling down again. Ollie seems to have recovered a lot faster than his mum!

    You are "Hen Comb" Matthew . . . aren't you? (giggle), in which case, when are you and J coming up here again so that you can tick off a few more of the 214?

  3. Hope you are all recovering Bilbo - give Ollie a big gentle hug from me.

  4. Gosh! I really feel for you! I have a fit and healthy 13yr old dog and any sort of ill health or stumble is frightening. Enjoy your time with Ollie!

  5. Thank you Granny & Matron, his typing is atrocious so the Hairy One has asked me to say "thanks" for all the good wishes.


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