Hi Pters.....I don't know if any of you remember me...its been a long time since I have stopped by. My name is Anna and we have a 10 year old yellow lab/golden retriever mix named Malone. It took a long time, but Malone has worked out to be the best dog ever....so dependable, loyal, mellow and lovable. Lately, it just seems like his health is declining and it makes me SO SAD.

A couple of years ago, Malone & I got in the habit of walking 15 miles a week.....but earlier this summer, I noticed that he just can't keep up on the hills, and he quickly tired on our long walks. I started to leave him home more often and just take him on leisurely walks. Even just laying around at home, you can tell he is creaky when he gets up after a long sleep. Don't get me wrong, he still gets a burst of energy and playful every once in a while, but definitely not the way he was even just a year ago. I raised concerns with the vet in June at his annual visit, but she just thought it was normal aging.

Another thing that saddens me is that his hearing is rapidly declining. For example, I noticed that he was *constantly* barking to alarm me that someone was here, but nobody would be here. And then, it hit me, when someone was actually here, he wouldn't here them until they were in the house. He was always barking false alarms because he couldn't actually hear!! He is has a cataract that has formed over one eye, and I'm pretty sure he is nearly blind in that one eye. On top of that, he has ongoing digestive issues - lots of gas, anal glands, and horrible breath.

Yesterday, I had to take Malone to the vet (to the tune of $178) because he has a hot spot on his back that hasn't healed in a couple of weeks. I thought it was the size of a quarter, but after they shaved the area, its about 4 or 5" across. They gave him an injection and an ointment, and a round of antibiotics, so hopefully he will start healing soon.

But, this morning, as he was eating his breakfast, I looked over at him, and I noticed that he has a HUGE lump on his side....visible without feeling it, and I have no idea how we missed it at the vets yesterday, or I am *hoping* it might be a reaction to the shot they gave him???

I feel so helpless, and now I am really scared about this lump. How do you deal with the effects of aging? It is so hard to just sit by and watch!! And I know that it shouldn't be about the money, but I am feeling scared at what the vet bills are going to be to properly take care of this lump, especially after the bill from yesterday.

Thanks for listening to my moan......I love this pup with all my heart, and it hurts to think that he is getting older every day.