Friday, August 15, 2014

Aging. The good and the bad

 I have been kind of emotional today about B lately. He will be 9 in two weeks and he is slowing down. It is wonderful in many ways as he allows so much more affection than he ever has but ....................well it scares me.
I recall so many people telling me when he was young and driving me completely crazy, that the ones that ask so much of you dig deeper in your heart. All I can say is I have poured my heart and soul into him. And when the time comes .....................................

I feel so fortunate that after the knee and the shoulder and the elbow and the lumps and the severe allergies, he heals and keeps going.

There is only the slightest amount of gray in the muzzle so we can pretend he isn't getting old, OK that he IS old.

But he is losing muscle and his face looks different.
For the record so is mine..............both are true here too but I don't look in the mirror much :)

He tires so much more quickly and sleeps most of the day.
Don't get me wrong, don't exercise him and pay the price!

In the morning he attempts to run down the stairs and some days it is clear the old joints aren't oiled yet so my eyes get very big as I wait to see if he'll stop his momentum before he crashes into the front door. (and no, apparently WALKING down the stairs is still not acceptable)

His walks are still trots and he swims for miles now - really. But when he's done, he may have a final short zoomie and then he's happy to crash.

I focus on rejoicing in his happiness and healthiness. I know of way too many dogs lost earlier than this, and so few dogs his size are still going as strong at this age.

Just like with humans, each dog is unique. I thank my lucky stars I got this nutjob :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm fat, and not phat (don't worry the post isn't about me)

Life has changed significantly for me over the last year. For many months I kept my fitness level close to where it was even if I gained a couple of pounds.
Then work got even more demanding and I found myself with zero time for real exercise, I sat at a workstation all day every day, and ate snacks.
This isn't good when you are past your metabolism's prime.
(Seriously this post isn't going to be about me, hang in there)
Then summer arrived with oppressive heat and daily evening storms. So instead of doing something active and fun I decided to have cheese and crackers washed down with a beer or wine or a drink.
Oh dear.
So today I decided was going to be the first day of taking back my body.
Problem is I was missing motivation.

So there I was putting on my running shorts feeling fat and flat, in contrast Bugsy was whining, bouncing and dancing.  Bad news bud too hot for you. The face drops. Dancing ends. He walks off and lies down turned away from where I am.

Just then I thought about Bugsy
This Bugsy
who had just had this done to his leg
The hardest part was keeping him down - a year later this was him

So as if that wasn't enough a year or so later we had this:
That one took some time to heal too, not that Bugsy ever cared

Then another year later he blew out his shoulder which led to him snapping his elbow. One would think this would kind of cause him to slow down and be kind of depressed. What did Bugsy do?
Well he did this
We got him fixed up with a few hitches along the way

Before getting fixed he looked like this

After the botched surgery

After the correct surgery (which pleased him so he chewed large sticks)

and if I fast forward a year, he was back to this

That was a few months ago and he even looks better today.
In fact you rarely see the hitch in his step, front end or back end.

At one point in his travails I put this together

So you see, as I sat there this evening, lacing up my new running shoes, completely lacking in motivation to get my fat butt moving. I thought about how many days Bugsy must have hurt and ached and yet he never lost a moment to self pity, and never lacked motivation to move.
He would say he never has a bad day.
"Focus on what you want and just get it"
(even if your humans say no or go slow or easy or you can't go that far)

So I will look at him and remember the injuries and the rehab and I will get my fat arse in gear and eat less and exercise more.
Heretofore I will say, "What would Bugsy do?"

Um well he'd walk and run and zooooooooooooooooom!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A moment of victory

In April 2011 my previously storm oblivious dog became storm-phobic.
Honestly he had every right to however it was so difficult to see.
Violent tornadoes were touching down all around us. Sirens from car alarms, house alarms, the weather radio, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances were all going off. There was a very odd feeling to the air and the smell after they passed is one I still recall.
A few weeks later our neighbor's house was struck by lightning and a small fire started - the fire trucks arrived full blast to our quiet cul de sac and I saw the panic in Bugsy's eyes.
Another month later and the village idiot neighbor decided to set off huge fireworks in our quiet cul de sac.
And that was that. Bugsy decided that storms were terrible and lightning or flashes of light were the spawn of Satan.
When he was a young dog our own home had been hit by lightning inflicting damage to everything electric from the garage door openers, computers, TV.s AC units and the entire home cinema set up on the third floor - we never figured out exactly where it hit but it was a doozy. That event never bothered him.  However the year after the tornadoes, a tree immediately outside the house was stuck by lightning and it was loud, you felt it in the floor and it once again blew out a bunch of electrical stuff.
Oh yea, Bugsy was now inconsolable in storms. I even got him a prescription for Xanax because we go through daily storms pretty much every July.
I got in the habit of giving him a capsule of valerian root and a dose of benadryl as a storm cocktail and it took the edge off.
Then this summer I started to notice that he wasn't as bad. I kept using a dose of benadryl (he needs it for allergies anyway, I just would leave it until afternoon when the storms usually hit).
Then I began noticing he didn't need that either.
He isn't oblivious as he once was but he is calm.

Today was the real test though. We went to the lake for his weekly swim. We were a LONG way from the docks and the sky blackened quickly. He was hunting herons and still going away from the docks. Hmmm.
I got him turned around and heading in. The rain began and got heavier and heavier.
He remained happy and hunting.
Then the first crack of lightning followed by a LOUD clap of thunder.
No response from him.
We kept trying to make our way to the docks.
The rains were so heavy now I could hardly keep my eyes open as the winds had blown my cap off.
He was still doing his thing.
As we approached the pier I had hoped to pull him out of the water from, I turned around to find him gone.
He had gone out of the water and into the woods. Gulp.
Then another mighty slash of lightning followed quickly by thunder.
My heart raced as I struggled to secure my kayak.
I run up the bank and looked to my left and there he was peeing on a shrub, completely non-plussed.
Pouring rain, pitch black, thunder and lightning and he was absolutely fine.
Suddenly my concern of how much water was going to be entering my new car disappeared as did any thoughts of how yucky the morning had turned.
All I could see was my incredible mutt, absolutely AOK in the midst of a severe storm.
A moment that brought such joy and relief to my less racing heart.
I just looked at him with all the admiration I have in me.

He owns my heart

It's true, he does.
I don't really want to go on and say the things I've said so many times, I know that so many of my friends feel the same way about their dogs.
And I've read so many stories about how unfair it is that they live their entire lives in front of our eyes.  And I agree.
I have also thought, "isn't it amazing that we are with them through their infancy through old age"

Bugsy maintains many of his personal characteristics that are forever youthful, however, there is a softness now to him that never existed when he was a young dog. He is more accessible, more vulnerable. I like to think I am too.

Tonight after a busy hour of destroying toys and taunting his humans I looked over and saw this:

Sleep well my old man, you can start raising hell again about 5 tomorrow morning.