Poor Charlie. He's 12 years old, which is getting pretty elderly for a big dog. He's had some aches and pains, but mostly, he's still amazingly spry. Until this morning. I seriously thought we would be having yet another dog funeral.
When I opened the door for him to go out this morning, he stood up, promptly fell down, got back up, walked into the table, bumped into the wall, and then stumbled awkwardly out the back door. At one point he even flipped over onto his back and then flipped right back onto his feet again. In what appeared to be a drunken stupor, he trotted down the hill, looking exactly like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz right after he fell off the pole.
I called him, but he wouldn't come. I walked after him, but couldn't find him. I got in the car and drove, with windows down, calling his name. Nothing. After I took the littles to school in the afternoon, I decided to look once again on foot. I found him on our neighbor's acreage, but when I called him, he couldn't seem to come to me in a straight line. He wobbled and fell, weaved and spun. I ran our puppy back up to our house and while texting Lyle, got the car and went back to Charlie. He was in the woods and didn't seem to be able to stand. He's a heavy dog and thankfully Lyle had just started his lunch break, so he drove home, loaded Charlie into the car and we went to the vet.
I was sure it was curtains for our dear Charlie. In my head, I rehearsed how I'd tell the shocked kids when they got home from school. So soon after losing Olaf, I could only imagine the therapy sessions. Before we even got into a room, the vet, who's known Charlie since puppyhood, looked into his eyes and saw that even with his head still, his eyes involuntarily darted back and forth. He said he's almost sure it's something called "Old Dog Vestibular Disease". It happens very suddenly and the dog totally loses all equilibrium. The eye twitching apparently is a classic sign. The wonderful news is that it should go away just as quickly as it appeared.
They're doing a few tests and we'll pick him up tonight, but it looks like our noble lab will live another day! Hip Hip hooray for Old Dog Vestibular Disease!