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Saturday, April 25, 2015

They may not be Cody's last legs, but they are starting to wobble

I didn’t walk Cody much over the winter. He may be 17 years old but he pulls full out on the leash and trips me up on the ice. Now that it’s spring, I figured it was time to take old Grandpa out for a stroll. He certainly loves a walk. Gets all excited as soon as he sees that leash. He skips and pulls and jumps and runs all the way down the driveway. Out on the road, he crosses back and forth across the gravel, sniffing and investigating like a good ol’ huntin’ dog.
We made it about 500 yards when the back left leg went. Then the right. They just buckled under him and he collapsed. He struggled back up to standing.
“Whoa, old man,” I said, turning him back toward home. As we reached our driveway, he started to gain some pep. So I let him keep walking. Another 500 yards, and the back legs went again. Poor Cody. His legs won’t do what his brain is telling them to. So we went home. That was a pretty short walk. And for the rest of the day he slept in a sunbeam as if he had run a marathon.
Cody is an outdoor dog. He runs away, so he has to be on a chain. And he sleeps in a doghouse lined with hay, all year round. I have tried to put dog beds in his house for extra padding against the wood. He tears them to shreds. Thirty above and he sleeps in a hole that he digs under the shade of the cedar tree. Thirty below, he is happiest burrowed into a tunnel in the hay of his wooden doghouse. But at least once a day, he likes to come inside to lie on his indoor bed, in front of the TV. Beside the wood stove. He can’t handle it for long if the fire is burning, because he has grown a heavy fur coat. But he does love to come in and groom himself for a few minutes, before having a snooze. Sometimes he is in here for hours. We just can’t leave him unattended, because in 17 years he has never been successfully housetrained or learned not to steal food.
Normally Cody naps inside on a king-sized fleece blanket that has been folded in four. I figured his old bones would appreciate a pillow, so about a year ago I bought him a nice corduroy dog pillow. The Farmer took one look at it and said, “What are you giving that to the dog for? I want it.” And it has been on the couch under the Farmer ever since.
Last month I found another dog pillow, this one with memory foam and fake sheepskin. It was so soft. I brought it home to Cody and threw it on the floor. The Farmer walks in.
“You bought a new pillow.”
“Yes, I did.”
“What’s it doin’ on the floor?” The man is oblivious. So I gave him the sheepskin pillow and took the year-old corduroy one and threw it on the floor. Cody gave it a sniff and then he literally shoved it to the side with his paw.
“Hey. Aren’t you going to sleep on your pillow?” I asked him. He put his chin on the pillow, the rest of him on the usual blanket. Then I realized, it probably didn’t smell right. So last night when he came in for his visit / nap, I shoved the pillow under his blanket. He turned around three times (less than the usual nine) and settled in. I could just hear his bones sighing with relief.
I don’t know whether it’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’ and I should be walking Cody more often or not. I don’t want to exhaust him. Now when he goes for a short walk, his legs give out and it seems to take him two days to recover. But then, he is 17 x 7 = 119 in dog years. The Farmer got him at age 2; he had been kicked out of obedience school and the family that had him couldn’t keep him anymore in their tiny apartment. I have no idea what they were thinking. Who keeps a huge Gordon Setter in an apartment?
I think he has had a good life here on the Fisher Farm. And we love him, even if he steals food out of the garbage and runs downstairs to pee in the basement.

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