Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Walking Dog Is Slowing Down

Tempus fugit. Time flies. The sweet dog we rescued as a senior is now advanced-senior. Ellie still pleads at some point every day for a walk, but then she hesitates at the door as though asking herself, "Do I really want to do this? Am I up for it?" She pants heavily before we take the first step. And if she takes care of her business within just a few blocks, she often turns us around and wants to head home instead of walking a few miles.

These days, Ellie also frequently passes on breakfast, which is something she never used to do. She is hungry by suppertime, though, so that's good. She can no longer jump on the bed, and she can get onto a sofa only with much difficulty and sometimes after failed leaps.

So a lot has changed. She's not just losing a step; she's losing three. I adopted her as a senior dawg so I knew this time was coming. Still, it's hard. The joy is still there when she manages to lie down on a corner of the sofa next to my recliner and snuggle with me and slumber while I gently pat her head. Ellie is another in a long line of dear sweet family dogs who have done so much to keep me active while boosting my morale. I hope that after this summer of miserable humidity we both can perk up and enjoy our walks once again.

Time does indeed fly, and sometimes it is hard to keep track of your faithful companion's age. When Ellie was up for adoption, the rescue people labeled her as 7 years old. I think they estimated on the low side in the interest of landing her a forever home. (Wouldn't blame them if they did.) Family and friends said her graying indicated she was closer to 8 or 9. To refresh my memory, I dug through past blogposts and found the one below, from January 9, 2016, about the joyous day we brought Ellie home. Doing the math, she could be close to 13 or 14 years old now, exceeding the average life expectancy of a retriever. The family lost dear Dasher, a yellow lab, earlier this year to cancer before he reached his 10th birthday.

It helps to be aware in order to be sensitive to Ellie's needs in old age, and to prepare emotionally for what's ahead. 

To refresh memories of the joy Ellie has brought us, I am re-posting the January 2016 piece on her arrival in our household. Here it is:


So today we finally did it: We made connections to meet a new doggie up for adoption, and we fell in love with her. She came to us as "Ellen," and that can remain her name for the record, but we've nicknamed her Ellie. We wanted a golden to follow in Super Sadiedawg's tradition, and her sweet face indeed is reminiscent of Sadie's. So is her temperament, though she has her own personality.

Ellie is considered a senior dog at age 7, but she is full of energy. She loves to take long walks so I now have a personal trainer who will kick my butt. Her story: Her owner passed away (I don't know the details) and she found herself in a high-kill shelter. The good folks with all4paws rescue in Pawley's Island obtained her and placed her with a wonderful foster family where she has lived with two resident golden retrievers the past three weeks.

She jumped right in our car when when left Petco, our meeting place this morning. She rode quietly home, dozing some and looking out the window some. At home she took a tour exploring her new home. So far so good. Then we sat down for lunch, and I heard the storm door open and close. Oh no! Ellie had bolted and run down the block. I of course chased after her, the best an old man can with an artificial knee not meant for running. Luckily a neighborhood family caught her attention -- she loved their children, a good sign -- and I was able to get her leash back on her. I didn't take the escape personally; I'm sure she was just exploring. But it was scary. Tomorrow we will get her collars and a harness with nameplates and contact info. She was microchipped yesterday.

Tonight I made another discovery. I thought that I had failed to close the storm door completely. However, after family visitors had left, she stood up on her hind legs and was manipulating the door handles with her front paws! She knows how to open doors! Smart doggie -- but we must always lock our doors. (Which is a good thing to do anyway.) I hope she will outgrow this propensity to bolt. (And I hope she doesn't know how to pick locks.)

Right now, with no completely enclosed backyard, I will need to walk her at least two or three times a day. Although I don't like those retractable leashes, I may buy one so sometimes I can sit on the back patio and let her wander out to the cedar trees but without being able to run away. Before too long, I hope, we can convince her not to run away.

There is lots more to say, but that will do for tonight. Next will be the adventure of the first night sleeping in her her home. Her foster mom says she doesn't much care for crates (though she is crate-trained) so I will try putting the doggie bed in the bedroom right next to my side of the bed. If that doesn't work out, we will bring the crate out of the garage and put it up tomorrow.

In short, we feel blessed to have a new dog in our family. Our family seems complete now. Next we need to get the new family member all settled in for the duration. (My son took a few pictures with his smart phone. I hope to take a bunch more tomorrow.)

                                   © Robert G. Holland  2016, 2020

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The Walking Dog Is Slowing Down

Tempus fugit . Time flies. The sweet dog we rescued as a senior is now advanced-senior. Ellie still pleads at some point every day for a wal...