Thursday, July 15, 2010
My pal, come what may.
Here's Lagniappe, with his award ribbon for helping me reach my goal and attain the President's Fitness Award Gold Medal. He earned it though a lot of hiking, walking, running and swimming with me. He's always been a fit and active dog and he loves nothing more than going outside to do something physical.
But those days are coming to an end. I haven't posted about it before but my best pal has Degenerative Myleopathy now. He's slowly losing control of his hind legs. Since I first started seeing signs of it a couple of months ago I've been wishing and praying that it was something else, but it's not. There's no treatment or cure and even though there's no time-frame for the progression of the disease, he's just going to get worse as time passes.
The vet says that he's not in any pain, and I'm confident that he's right. Lagniappe doesn't act like he's sore. He still tries to run and jump and play like he's always done, but now he misses his mark when he jumps and he often falls down when running around corners or trying to descend stairs. The first few times he did it, I laughed and called him a clutz. But that was before I knew what was going on. I don't laugh any more. Now each time he falls, I wince and hope that this isn't the time that he hurts himself. I know that it's just a matter of time before he does, but he won't slow down--he still thinks that he can do the things that he really can't do anymore.
This is hard to deal with. We've been through a lot over the years, and we've covered a lot of ground since I took him in back when he was a sulky, hateful and dangerous ex-police dog that even the kennel that had bred him couldn't handle anymore. "Just take him," the owner told me. "If you decide that you don't want him, just bring him back like everyone else does."
I almost brought him back a few times that first month. But I always found myself giving him one more chance because something told me that there was a good dog under all of that hate somewhere. And it paid off in spades as he eventually learned to trust me and became my best friend. We've traveled together from Florida to Maine. He's flown co-pilot with me, and when I lost my leg a few years ago he was a big part of my transition back to normalcy. He's my buddy, and we've had a lot of good times.
And honestly, the good times aren't over yet. The hikes are a thing of the past now, but I still take him swimming almost every night that I can, both to keep his legs exercised and just because he enjoys it so much. We still sit out on the deck together in the evenings and share bags of popcorn and the occasional dish of ice cream. (And I still take him into Harpers Ferry to the Swiss Miss shop there where Sharon, the owner, hands him his own ice cream cones.)
Yeah, he's slowing down now, and a lot of the things we used to do we won't be doing any more, but we're pals and we've been through way too much together to give up now.