White Dog saved Oso's life today. No, this is not an April Fool's prank.
As most of you know Oso has dementia. Just like humans with the disease he has good spells and bad ones. When he is having tough days we are all aware and extra careful to make sure out Little Man is safe. We all jump when we hear his "I am lost" whimper and scurry out to check the situation if we hear unexplained noises.
But today we discovered a possibility for which we did not have a contingency plan. What happens if Oso gets himself into serious trouble and CAN'T make a noise? What then?
Our house is small and even if I am in the office I can see the hallway and the bedroom. Most of the White Dog Army lounges in the living room or kitchen so there is not any space that is unattended. Oso generally hangs out where ever I am, but often wobbles and stumbles around a bit in the main rooms. Dr. Julia says we should encourage his walking around so that he does not lose muscle strength and I refuse to kennel any of the WDA because of the trauma of their pre-rescue lives (in Oso's case, being in Animal Control for several days).
For some reason this afternoon, most of the Army chose to join me in the office. Taiko was sunning himself on the back deck and Puff slept in the doorway. Oso was wandering, but then I heard him settle down on his blanket near the couch in the living room.
After only a few minutes, White Dog who was sitting next to me as I worked ran into the living room. She began panic barking and dashed back to get me. She and Bella and I were followed by YoYoMa and Puff as we tore into the other room...just as Oso managed to lift his head a few inches and wail...as he upchucked into the water.
In settling down, he had rested his head on the edge of the water bowl and it slipped into the water. He was drowning! He was too rattled to raise his head and lacked the coordination to get out of the situation. The water covered his nose and mouth. I scooped him up and started first aid. He threw up more water and coughed. Twice more before he shuddered and finally pulled in a full breath of air.
I cradled him in my arms and sat down, suddenly filled with the horror of what a close call we just encountered. The WDA stayed close; touching Oso and I to give and get reassurance. I called Steve at work just to give me strength (I was shaking with visions of what could have happened)...of course, the vet's office was already closed for the day.
I held Oso until he was snoring in his deep sleep then put him next to my desk. I picked up the classic old-fashioned dog water bowl; the others throughout the house are the type that have only a small amount of water exposed and refill as it is drunk.I do not think that Oso's nose can reach the water if he is lying on the rim of those dishes and they are not wide enough to get more than a mouth into. Besides the others DO need access to hydration.
Every time my Little Man stirred, I jumped and I watched intently to make sure his breathing was normal. The WDA rotated guard duty.
At night Oso sleeps in an ersatz baby bassinet at the foot of our bed so he is gently confined where I will awaken should he become distressed. Tomorrow, Steve and I will assess how to further "dementia proof" the house. But tonight as Steve walks the rest of the Army, Oso and I will sit together in the dark of the yard and thank the Universe for White Dog and disasters averted.