Life is always changing and there’s no better reminder than watching our dogs getting older. It can be sad and frightening, but we can learn to be better people as we walk the path together.
Right now, I have three senior dogs: Penny is 8-1/2, Watson will be 12 this month, and Justin is 15. They’re all dachshunds, which is good in that they’re small enough to pick up and put in a stroller or a wagon when they’re tired, but it also means I have to haul around a stroller and/or wagon everywhere we go. We visited the coast of Oregon last month with the stroller and I pushed 67 pounds of wiener dogs plus whatever the stroller weighed against a 20-m.p.h. wind in sand. Talk about a glut workout!
Watson had toe cancer last summer and it was all about him. We walked at his speed, he got pampered the most, and he even got to take a spin on an underwater treadmill. He’s fine now and in fact, is tossing squeak toys and running around my desk as I write this.
Penny is a tweenie while the other two are standard doxies, so her legs are really short. Her brothers look like they’re on stilts compared to her. These days she either gets tired more easily or she knows that if she gives me that “Mom, I’m such a tiny dog and I’m exhausted” look, I will pick her up and tuck her in my shirt. And she’s not as diminutive as she’d like me to believe — she weighs 15 lbs! I’ve taken to wearing fabric with good tensile strength so it can hold her.
Justin has the most rules for us to follow. He won’t walk if it’s over 70 degrees, raining or snowing. He’s lost most of his eyesight, so the transition from shade to sun disturbs him (and he refuses to wear the sunglasses I bought him). This means that whenever I can, I walk so that he is always in my shadow. Try it — it’s not an easy task. Between the near-blindness and his dementia, he will walk right into or through anything if I’m not on the ball. Pile of debris? Yank. Drainage grate? Yank? Over-sized statue of a pot-bellied pig on the sidewalk? You guessed it. And, despite walking slower than the House of Representatives passes a bill as we leave the house, as soon as we round a corner for home, he races full speed, dragging me, the stroller and his siblings behind him.
I see more on our walks these days because I’m the eyes, ears, legs, and shade for my dogs. Not to mention, how much attention we get when everyone is tired and piled in the stroller or wagon. Life is an adjustment and we’re making it.