Where I live the houses are close together, and there’s only a chain wire fence in between my small yard and my neighbours. I sometimes wonder if they can hear me talking to Henry and what they must think of the number of times a day I tell him I love him. If I’m completely honest I also often wonder what HE thinks about the number of times a day I say it.
He’s been my world for the last 8 1/2 years since I first brought home a scrawny 14 month old dog to a house I’d just moved into that day, and not having any idea what I was doing back then, expected him to be able to cope with a stream of visitors coming over for “moving in drinks” (he didn’t!). He’s been with me through a couple of relationships, a few houses and a variety of jobs and today he fell for the first time.
I knew he was slowing down when he stopped being known at my dog park as “that dog who sneaks across the creek to go bin diving through the suburbs”. He used to try to run off most days but there’s a whole new generation of people there now who’ve never seen him running along the bike path on the other side of Kedron Brook. I was OK with that part of him getting older, in fact it made my life a lot easier. But today he actually fell.
And not just a little stumble. Today he tried to do his usual run up to jump into the car and missed. He hit the edge of the car and fell to the ground. I pulled out the Otto Step I’d bought a couple of months ago and had shipped from the US after hours of researching what I thought would be the best option for ‘that time’ when he needed help getting in and out of the car, and slotted it into place. I put on his lead and tried to coax him to step up onto it, but of course he was shaken and panicked, tried to jump over it and fell again.
I’m not writing this post to solicit sympathy about being sad that my dog is getting old, but as lesson in what not to do. You see what happened to today was totally my fault. Today I let my dog down.
I bought that step months ago, but after a few attempts to use it had mixed/failed results, I put it in the ‘it can wait’/’too hard’ basket and excused away my laziness by telling myself we’d “work on it after the current foster dog leaves” or “he’s not having any problems getting in the car now, why put him through the stress of it?”.
On Thursday Henry’s favourite treat dispenser, Justin the Pet Coach, is coming over to help us with some strategies for encouraging him to use the step. Something that should have happened a long time ago.
I’ve been trying so hard to deny the fact that he’s getting old because it hurts my heart to imagine the time he won’t be here anymore that I’ve let him down… but that stops today.
From today he’s on a diet to lose that extra couple of kilos that I’ve been laughing off as “just floofy” but that I know is putting extra pressure on his ageing joints and on Thursday we’ll start to work on getting him in and out of the car safely.
Today he fell for the first time, and it was the best thing that could have happened to us.
(oh, and I counted today…. 76 times)