Our beloved Alyosha is fourteen years old. He’s been showing his age for a little while now – aside from slowing down in general, he started getting excessively grumpy three or four years ago. At a vet visit not too soon after that happened, the doctor said his thyroid levels were low; he went on thyroid meds, and his mood improved enormously.
He’s also started peeing a lot. Which may or may not be a side effect of the meds; we should get an answer to that soon. Recently, though, a couple of things have gotten worse. For a while, he’d had a hard time seeing the steps up into bed right after we turned off the light – it took his night vision a while to adjust. Recently, however, he’s been unable to get up into bed at all in the middle of the night – he seems to have very little night vision at all these days. Also, while it’s been a while since he wanted to take long walks, these days he’s loath to venture even as far as the end of the townhouse complex. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on there – he’s happy to shadow me when I walk around the house, including going up and down stairs, so I don’t think his legs can be aching too much. Hard to say. He’s gotten rather heavier, too, which may be a result of the decreased exercise.
Anyways, the other night we heard him falling down the stairs. I do hope that hadn’t been a regular feature of his nights; if so, it might be an explanation of why he doesn’t want to go on much of a walk in the morning, since he may be a bit bruised. So real night vision problems, and he hasn’t figured out quite where the stairs are. Once we realized he was doing that, we started leaving the stair lights on at night. Unfortunately, the stairs are near our bedroom, but we found that, if we unscrewed the light bulb at the top of the stairs, then we could still get to sleep just fine, and I think the light at the bottom is enough for him to see. Liesl was also talking about installing a dimmer switch; we might give that a try if the current solution doesn’t work.
Ultimately, though, we should take him to a doctor fairly soon. My tentative hypothesis is that he has cataracts: his eyes have been somewhat milky for years, so I hadn’t been worrying about that too much, but if it’s causing problems, we should do something about it. And googling suggests that cataracts can lead to poor night vision. Liesl’s parents had a dog who responded well to cataract surgery; maybe Yosha will get to go through that, too.
Or maybe it’s something else. Fortunately, the house is small and we have no plans to move any time soon (or any time not soon!), so if they can’t fix his vision, I’m sure he’ll adapt. But he is a sweet darling wonderful dog, so we’d like to make his remaining years as pleasant as possible.
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