Ardala’s barking at the dishwasher now, as is her custom. If someone were to ask what the hardest part of caring for a handicapped pet is, I’d say it’s all the times where you can’t afford to go out to nice dinner and a movie because you bought a new orthopedic device, or you’re late home from work because it took a little extra time to walk her at lunch and you can’t have a dog walker because, hello, geriatric dog, and all that sort of “no, I don’t need to be thanked. Everything’s fine” builds up and starts to overflow and then you’re confronted with your sweet handicapped dog displaying some highly doggie (mis)behavior,like eating cat poop, or farting in your face or barking at appliances. They’re not the most grateful of mammals, that’s for sure. But we muddle through…
Ardala gets four walks a day – first thing in the morning, sometime around noon, after work and right before bed. On week days, the after work walk is the longest. On weekends, it’s the morning and afternoon. It’s all relative of course. Ardala’s not on her wheels for all four walks just yet. For one thing, we’re working on getting her strong enough to walk decent distances at a steady pace. For another thing, it’s a bit challenging for one person to load her into her cart just now. We are treating the wheels as an extension of her physical therapy. When we take her out on them, if she gets a bit tired – or just likes the way the air smells where she is – and doesn’t feel like moving forward, we don’t force it; instead, one of us places her back feet square on the ground an then blocks the back of the wheels so Ardala doesn’t drift backwards. Getting her used to supporting her own weight with the help of that saddle is the first step in getting her used to actually placing her feet on her own. Eventually, we’d like to see her do that while moving – you know, like a walk.
This evening Red Monkey was out so I had to take Ardala out on her “butt band” and her front harness. She’s also supposed to wear a little footie on her left foot so she doesn’t scrape the crap out of it during her dragging. Well this evening she would not permit me to put on the footie. She didn’t pull her foot away in pain or anything, but she did give me a look of haughty disapproval and barked pointedly at me. OK, so no footie. I would have to be careful on her walk not to take her through any rough pavement. Then when I went to put the butt band on, she sat up. She was, as usual, on her left hip rather than her haunches (which, oddly enough, has been her standard “sit” even when her musculo-skeletal system was functioning within normal parameters) but it made putting on the butt band a little more complicated. It’s easier when she’s on her side and I can just put her legs through the leg-holes, pass it under her flank and clip it on top. It’s tougher when she’s “up” and more wiggly. But as annoying as I found it, I realized that she hasn’t even tried to sit up during butt band time for at least two months. I think (she said, knocking wood, crossing fingers, etc) that must be the very teeniest of good signs.
Of course she scraped her foot during her walk, but at least it wasn’t actively bleeding when we came in. I still have to figure out what to do about that foot. But for now I’ll just sit back with a glass of wine and call today a success.