Friday, October 6, 2023

Slow Walking

Descending Whitecap on October 6, 2023

I've been studying geriatric dogs so I know what to do when with Bailey. He's slowed a good deal and lost weight. His body is boney and lined with growths. Today, coming off Whitecap, his back legs looked stiffer than normal, like stiff-legged Chester on the 1960's western, Gun Smoke. Thing is, we ran into another dog and her human, and Bailey's tail popped up and he pranced right up to her like he was 3 years old again.  

On our jaunts around the neighborhood or down at Swift River Park, Bailey walks slowly and spends time sniffing e. v. e. r. y. t. h. i. n. g.  I've had to lecture myself to slow down and not get pissy at his inch-worm pace. On our walks, it's easy to see him as a vital, do-anything dog... but the reality is, he isn't anymore. 

I read a study from North Carolina State University about the link between physical and cognitive decline in older dogs. The study suggests that the slower our dogs walk the more likely they may have dementia. I have that sense with Bailey. Yet, he still searches out his treats that I've hidden around the house; he can jump into the car's backseat; he tells time... he knows exactly 40 minutes before it's dinner time and let's me know it; he knows when it's about 10am (8:15am - 10am) for his carrot break; he still plays with his stuffed animals; and he chews his bones with the same energy as he did as a youngster. 

My main worry is that he may wander off when he goes out to pee at night. My neighbors, the Bartashes, lost an old dog that wandered off. Bailey and I searched for that dog. He actually made it all the way up to Joe Pond, maybe 3.5 - 4 miles away on the snow mobile trail... in the winter! The old pup was found after 11 days in the frigid cold; he died the next morning. 

The Puiia family live near Whitecap's trailhead, and their Bernese Mountain Dog, Saddie, went missing several years back. To the day they think she was stolen, but I believe she wandered off. Bailey and I spent 10 days searching for her all around Whitecap Mountain, Black Mountain, and down toward Rumford. My sense is that she wandered off into the deep woods, curled up, and died. We knew Saddie well because our neighbor's, Paula and Carlo Puiia, were Saddie's aunt and uncle--they babysat her frequently. Maybe I'll get some kind of GPS tracker for Bailey. The thought of him alone in the woods... well, I'd be a mess.    

The skiing glades cut on Whitecap. 

"Me? Old?" 

Quick dip. 

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