Yesterday about 1:30 PM (on March 31st, 2019) I had Zadoch put to sleep at Briarcliff Animal Hospital. I took the above picture the day before (March 30th, 2019)
His back hips had slowly been deteriorating for about a month. I took him into the vet two weeks ago and discovered that he definitely did have arthritis, which German Shepards are very likely to get, and maybe some other more severe hip problems that are difficult to diagnose and not treatable that German Shepards are likely to get as well. The vet put him on a prescription and dietary supplement and we were going to regroup in a month to see how well it worked.
Fast forward one week. The medicine does seem to be helping with the pain somewhat, but it does not seem to be making his hips any better. In fact, his hips continue to deteriorate. What was before just a problem with one leg now seems to be a problem with two legs and he continued to have greater difficulty standing and sitting. There were a few falls too, which never happened before. Also he would drag his back legs sometimes.
Then last Wednesday we start having the power issues, which necessitates us leaving for an AirBNB and then later the apartment. We left Zadoch at the house with a battery powered light – he seemed happy to not have to move and just slept a lot – we added some painkillers to his medical routine and kept up the other medicine.
He then got progressively worse and could only stand with my assistance, or so it seemed anyway – he could drag himself around on just his front legs, but as for walking with his back legs for very far… that was out of the question. He could not lift his back legs up far enough to propel him forward and the top of his feet was pointed toward the ground for some reason (more on that later).
Then came Saturday night – I went over to get him – and take him back to the apartment and he was suffering terribly. His back legs weren’t working at all, but he dragged himself to get in the car with me. I made a judgement call to take him to the apartment so we could spend one more night together and all say goodbye.
At the apartment he felt even worse (though the pain meds did help a bit) He whimpered in obvious pain but once he settled down and realized we were all together I think that made him feel somewhat better. He had good and bad moments throughout the night (I would wake up during his bad ones) and I made the call to take him in that day (Sunday, his normal vet is only open Monday through Saturday). Then I took him into Briarcliff.
I could not have asked for a better vet at Briarcliff Animal Hospital. The vet techs had to help me get him into the clinic (they “wheelbarrow walked” him to the clinic by putting a towel around his midsection and letting him use his front legs – I thought that sounded weird but it worked very well). And then I met with the doctor who was very kind and reassuring. Basically the situation: If there was a fix for the problem then the medication the first vet gave me would have worked, and the only other possibilities were non-fixable. Also, for big dogs, mobility problems are more or less fatal – there is no way they will stay off their feet and they just make a bad situation worse. I think the phrase she used was death sentence. The tops of his feet pointing towards the ground was also indicative of a blood circulation problem.
The procedure went fast and he went peacefully knowing I was there.
We got him on March 15th, 2010, slightly before Staci and I got married and well before Marleigh was born. His name from the original owner (it was a reseller/rescue operation of some kind) was Bam-Bam, but we renamed him Zadoch after an obscure relative of mine. Everything started off well – he was our third dog at that point (Drex was still living and Dagney was just coming off of puppydom). He happily settled in as the Alpha dog, and since he could jump the fence we went on many, many long walks together (averaging about five miles a day the first spring/summer/fall).
He calmed down a little over time and at some point developed the skin allergies that would bother him off and on for his whole life (though less in his later years). When Marleigh was born they became fast friends at even a very young age – he was always hanging around her crib and bed, and she was always drawn towards him. She renamed him Z-Dog when she was two or three – and the name stuck for the rest of his life.
He had some problems with the neighbors dog, jumping the fence at one point to get into a territorial dispute. He would also jump our fence periodically and for some reason jump into cars and wait to be driven somewhere.
We had many happy years of family and dog life – he and Marleigh grew ever closer and he was a constant 100 pound fixture of the house – always with a great happy personality, always great with children – always ready to protect if need be. Life with him was a happy normal.
Zadoch was a great dog and he will be missed. Marleigh has taken it quite hard, and I guess Staci and I have too. I thought we would have several more years with him, but that was not to be. Rest in peace.