Not the Hitchcock version, although Kaylah probably experiences it just like Jimmy Stewart does.

Old dogs lose their balance. A lot. Sometimes, it’s the mild wobbliness you might put down to old age. And sometimes, when it comes on quickly, accompanied by a head tilt, and a tendency to turn in circles, it might be vestibular disease.

My Kaylah,  15.5 years, has had a challenging month. I took her to my vet for a blood test and checkup. The blood work came back fine, but showed signs of dehydration, not unusual for old creatures.

I made that classic error of messing around with something that was working fine. I asked him about prescribing pain medications, ‘just in case’ she’s suffering from arthritic pain.

Oops. That was a bit much to expect her body to cope with. So I stopped the meds, and nursed her back (plenty of broth and love) until the vertigo struck.

Head tilt, sudden flops to the side, endless circles. The worst part was watching her unable to get any rest. I remembered I’d read about a special ‘manouevre’ used for humans that get this same problem.

I tried it. At the end of the procedure, she remained in the last position I’d put her in. And slept.

I’m grateful.





She lives


Moves in slow circles,

Sometimes standing

for long minutes,

in a corner.

I stroke her coarse fur.


Her head lifts

and orients towards me.


she follows my rafts

wherever I go,

Bread crumbs through the forest

She eats,

Shoving her sharp nose

into every delicacy I offer her,

She sleeps.

I’m grateful when she does.

I tell her I love her,

A thousand times

I do.

It’s no antidote

nor protection against

the lump of losspain I see in the distance,

hunkered down and waiting.

It will come.

A giant black wave,

That will crash over my head

Crush my chest

and knock me down.

Nothing can stop that.

Not hope, nor prayer

Mantra nor talisman,

Not love, nor the tasty treats I offer her. 


I’ll hurt like hell

Until one day,

the Losspain will loosen,

Relax its jaws

And let me slip free.

Free, until the next time.


We are celebrating Kaylah’s completion of fifteen earth years, on January 8th.
She was our second Schipperke, our first being a divine little beast whose physical form was a disaster; heart, liver, thyroid. Her fighting spirit and Schipperke elan delighted us. We’d adopted her at two, and we finally released her at six.

Kaylah (Mazeru’s Kenya) came to us from Anna Verleg, in Vernon BC. She was a feisty puppy, (factory installed) and I was a complete novice pet owner. She endured my ignorance with equanimity.  Over the past decade and a half, I have diligently taught myself to be a better trainer and she has skilfully guided me to becoming a better human being.

Thank you, Kaylah.


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