Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Slowing Down With Cheyenne

I miss my long walks with Cheyenne. She is approaching the mid way point between 14 and 15 years of age, a date that is only approximate as I got her from the pound in December 2009, and she no longer walks as she did, even six months ago. These days a substantial 45 minute walk knocks her out for two days and a trip to the mainland in the car leaves her exhausted for just as long. Afternoon walks hold no attraction for her and any offers to leave the house are weighed up carefully by my Labrador but I never contradict her: she knows her own mind. 
It's  ironic that in the past I sued to wear myself out walking for a couple  of hours with my dog every morning after I got home from work. There she's be, impatiently walking back and forth on the deck waiting for the sound of my motorcycle and off we'd go in the car to seek out some new and interesting place to walk. She had a rotation, one island after another each day and on my days off we'd do Key West streets. It was good for her and good for me. Especially when she'd come up to me in the afternoon and stand in my face staring at me asking for an afternoon stroll as well.
Many was the time we would rush out of the house at four and I'd have to be dragging her back to the car, that stubborn dog, so I could get out of the house in time for work.  Nowadays she hardly ever goes for an afternoon or evening walk, and the days when she comes asking I leap up with alacrity as its as much a treat for me as for her. Mostly she sleeps or she lies awake watching me so I give her a hug and scratch her and when she has enough she turns away and ignores me.
I have decided for my own peace of mind that I may have to go for a stroll by myself from time to time, wander the trails we used to walk together and it will feel odd being without her. Perhaps I will roll out my bicycle and perhaps that will feel less odd. I miss being outdoors and I have to steel myself to leave my dog home alone for a while when I could be spending a few more minutes with her. 
Going to work hasn't changed. When I take my shower Cheyenne gets up, with a little difficulty these days owing to the weakening of her hind legs, and when I shower she still takes that as the sign that I will soon be abandoning her. She continues to protest my departure as she did when she was younger and actively wanted to go with me, by retreating to her night bed in the darkened bedroom and pretending to sleep when I come by to say goodbye. I end up thinking about her a lot while I am at work staring out of the window, wondering what it will be like without her one day in the future.
I have heard people say they don't want dogs because they die on you and it's true they do. But I always find making a rescue dog's life worthwhile is worth more than the pain of separation.

Outside the comfort of our air conditioned house life goes on, the sun comes up, the day gets hot and sometimes muggy and I hope cooler weather will give Cheyenne one last burst of energy. But she deserves her sleep if that's what she wants.  She eats like a horse yet doesn't seem to put on weight. not like some elderly Labradors I have seen.

She goes up and down the outside stairs at our stilt home carefully but determined, refusing help from me with a look of injured pride and a side step that makes me want to hug her. She steps carefully through her dog door to enjoy some afternoon sunbathing on the deck, she lies down next to me, a rare event from this independent dog and I put my hand on her and she snores. Sometime she seems to strain a hind leg or the other with a miss step and my wife whips out the muscle relaxers and pops her one or two to get her back on her feet. She is, like any elderly dog (or human) a little slow and a little fragile but still full of life.

Her body is covered in tumors of one sort or another, mostly just ugly, but the vet says we can't risk having them removed as she may die in the operation which would just be cosmetic anyway. So she is a little lumpy, with a testicle growing under her tail, unsightly but not painful, and a scab on her ear that she enjoys having rubbed with leaves from our aloe plant. She eats her glucosamine pills at breakfast and she farts copiously in the car when bored on long trips, her form of silent deadly protest at being ripped from her home and hearth. When I try to entice her downstairs for a walk or to hang with me while I work on my motorcycle she often refuses and lays down, and cannot be persuaded to do what she doesn't want to do.
Like they say, every day is a blessing with an old dog. 


Richard Holt said...

Now then, we've been through this phase of the cycle a few times and when the end finally does arrive we remind ourselves of Lord Oaksey's take on life -"the biggest sadness of life is that we outlive so many good dogs and horses."

However, we have a couple of techniques to improve the quality of a dog's declining years,

one is a medication called Vivitonin (http://www.animeddirect.co.uk/prescriptions/vivitonin-tablets-priced-per-tablet-100mg.html)

and the other is a puppy.

With apologies for the uninvited nature of this comment.


Richard Holt said...

For the avoidance of ambiguity, the puppy seems to put new energy and interest into the senior dog.


Cody Goldman said...

I was going to say the same, I have seen it myself, even another rescue not necessarily a puppy can be good for all. The older dogs seem to be inspired by the new blood, it may even be healthy competition. While there is never a replacement for the older family member, it does make it easier when it happens because the house isn't so empty.
I saw an interesting lab in the citizen last week, he is at the SPCA stock island and his name is Ike.
no pressure, just saying.
regardless, the love came through in this post and she has been one lucky dog.

Trobairitz said...

I think Cheyenne has had the best life possible after you rescued her and every day she is with you is a treat.

Animals share our hearts. It hurts to think of eventually losing them but we are better people for having loved them.

Sandi Foster said...

Jack Riepe said...

Looking at you and Cheyenne, it's hard to determine who rescued who.

Garythetourist said...

I'm want to push the "like" button on Jack's comment

Bryce Lee said...

I too have a rescue pet named Samson. A cat of undetermined years when I received him, ostensibly at 14 years of age. Most shelters put down cats and dogs of that age, Samson was not eligible. He had been brought in by his owner's solicitor, the cat's owner (at age 96) was being sent to a long term care hospice; the cat was not allowed. Samson was offered to me on the condition that if he suffering i'd put him down.
Have had cats in the past, and a St. Bernard bitch named Sassafras, between cats. Sassy was short-lived, ten years. My next cat was Thumper a beautiful loving orange tabby. He lasted nine years before giving his life in a fight with a neighbour's pit bull one afternon. The pit bull lost both his eyes and was put down. Thumper lost a rear leg and a lot of blood and died.
Pit bull's owner sued me for harbouring a wild animal; tables were turned in court when the pit bull's owner was convicted of owning and allowing to let loose a dangerous animal. Seems the pit bull had done in a few of the other cats in the neighbourhood. Pit bulls as a breed are now banned in the Province of Ontario as are a few other breeds. Pit bull's owner endured a hefty fine and six months in jail; his house was sold by the court while the owner resided behind bars. Seems the owner and his wife were also dealing drugs, hence the pit bull.
Sam has had major oral surgeries, so far about C$10,000; all for tooth removal. One of his removed teeth was sent away at my request to see if it could be time-dated. Sam is over actually 18 years of age; I still love him regardless of his age and tendency to sleep most of the day. His kidneys are failing, and he eats about a can of light flaked white tuna a day, and drinks a lot of water, usually from one of the toilet bowls in the house. He is mine and will be until the day he closes his eyes for the last time...

Cody Goldman said...

Bryce Lee you are one good person

Anonymous said...

Love her

Anonymous said...

touching my heart and gently helping me to move through the week after losing my old girl of fifteen years to kidney failure. bless you. spend every minute you can with her.

Conchscooter said...

Old animals bring out the best in us.

Ginney Camden said...

I look forward daily to hearing how Cheyenne is doing and completely empathize with this time in your life. Our wonderful Polly had tumors and warts and aged slowly until all of a sudden the aging process got quicker and I enjoyed every moment that we could keep her with us. We did, as someone else suggested get another rescue dog during Polly's last year and she took to him just fine. I think his antics did perk her up. He was a comfort to me when she left us.

Conchscooter said...

Cheyenne was dumped at the pound for being too old. She has never shown any interest in other dogs. And she knows what she wants so I respect that. She will be number one till the end.