It was one exhausting day for Casper. It started the night before with no food or water after midnight. He was feeling peckish yesterday anyway, so no problem. At first.
Until 4 a.m. when Daisy made it clear that SHE wasn’t able to sleep – and since I want to keep up with her appetite while she’s still got it, I got out of bed at that time too. Casper toddled along behind me down the stairs, and when he didn’t find a water bowl or food bowl with leftover scraps in it from last night, he didn’t seem upset. He was eager to watch what was going on outside, where the chipmunk circus performs every hour just outside the screened porch.
It must have helped keep his mind off the pain in his jaw.
It was maybe two weeks ago that I saw Casper pawing at his mouth one afternoon. At first glance, it was a gesture similar to his washing his face after a meal. It would take me a few days to realize that this was no cleaning habit, that something was not right.
Casper’s washing his face clearly was different than what I saw recently. He was pawing at his mouth, like he was trying to dislodge something stuck inside. And not just on the one side, but on both his left and right.
Did he eat something that stuck in his teeth? Did he have an infected tooth? It wasn’t easy to have Casper sit still for an inspection, so finally I made an appointment to get the veterinarian’s experienced exam.
Two large rotted teeth in his jaw were a grim sight. How could I have missed that? Bad breath can be a clue to tooth decay, as well as picky eating. And the pawing at the mouth thing. I’m supposed to be a responsible pet owner, at least I thought I was.
I am guilty of avoiding the vet because I feel it stresses Casper to be carted away from his cozy home. I always hoodwink him into the carrier by cornering him somewhere in the house, wrapping him in a towel to keep him from flailing around too much and getting free.
Wouldn’t it have been easier to take him for twice-yearly visits where injuries or encroaching disease might be spotted sooner? And treated sooner? Yes. At 14 years, his health is declining. The blood tests revealed an issue with his liver; an X-ray couldn’t tell the vet enough.
I can’t leave him hanging for an answer again.
He is home, the teeth extracted, the pain subsiding. At least I hope it is. When he winces, I wince. Having no words, I read his body language now for any clue to his discomfort. I peek over at him, curled up on the bed, his eyes half open but not asleep.
You look exhausted, Casper. I’m sorry it took me so long to get the message.