Our dog Co- is nearly 12 years old

Healthy Old Dog on Sidewalk

All in all, he is a healthy animal. When we got him 8 years ago, the only inconvenience was his tender stomach. Once in a while, he would all of a sudden develop a diarrhea, with or without vomiting. Coincidentally, this usually would happen when nobody was at home. A few cleaning sessions at 12 o'clock at night and I decided -- enough. Something had to be done about it.

I am not a great cook -- my food would not bring people back to my house begging for more -- but I'm a practicing cook. I cook a lot. In fact, it would be fair to say that, for the last say five years, I'm in a state of cooking something constantly. It could be actively boiling, baking, frying; or it could be passively soaking, overnight, for 24 hours, till it sprouts. My cooking is an obsession. I read cookbooks the way other people read novels.

Hence, the fixing of Co-'s health was going to be done through his stomach. In other words, by changing his diet.

In the beginning a strict regiment of feeding and walking was implemented. No snacking between the feedings. The dog's stomach responded favorably. I find that structured, scheduled activities, especially routine ones like waking up, feeding, walking them, done in an orderly fashion, done every day, make the dog a lot more agreeable and relaxed.

For a while we enjoyed accident-free lifestyle; and it was great.

Then, when he was about 6-7 years old, came a big one....

We live in San Diego, and absolute and undisputed "flea capital" of the United States. At least it's obviously so in the opinion of the locals. but I would not be surprised if it were the truth. Fleas (as well as tourists) love it here.

We got Co- from a friend of ours, Forrest, initially for a two week period, while he went to Europe for vocation. But when he came back, he could not find a place to rent that would allow dogs. So Co- was going to stay a bit longer with us, which we did not mind at all. I have never seen a more polite, respectful and friendly animal. Taking care of him was a pleasure.

So, a couple of years passed by and Forrest moved into a house where he could have Co-. A little tough but we gave him up in exchange for visiting rights.

Unfortunately, Forrest worked too much and the dog was left in the back yard of the house, a dirt lot with one pine tree. There was shade, but, apparently, millions of fleas lived in the dry dirt. Co- became infested. He lost weight -- he's never been a heavy dog. He started looking like skin and bones. In addition, he spent uninterrupted hours during the day biting and scratching himself to blood, so that by the time I came to visit him, he had absolutely no hair on his back side. End of the back above the tail, tail itself, back legs ... Everything was bold, scabby, and scaly. Even under the tail there were no hairs covering his anus. The dog looked so miserable, confused, and unhappy that it made me cry. It was clear that, at that time, Forrest did not have enough time to deal with Co- and his health needs. So the dog went home with me.

Then another problem surfaced. In addition, likely a result of the flea infestation, Co- has got arthritis, and so severe that he could not get off the porch in the morning. He would sort of fall off the steps. He would not be able to maintain his balance while urinating and would end up falling over. It was very sad.