SUMMARY: Tika -- physical and mental challenges.
To make a short story long--
I'm a long way from catching up on writing down what I did during my two weeks of vacation, but one thing I did the last week was a lot of walking and hiking with the Merle Girls.
Sept 11 (Tuesday) we hiked up Coyote Peak at Santa Teresa Park--not from the base (1000 feet up) but starting about 1/3 of the way up--on leash. Tika did OK but seemed at times to be lagging, both uphill and downhill. Of course, so was I. The peak was wreathed in clouds when we started, but by the time we reached the peak, it was sufficiently warm to make us want to rouse up some shade somewhere. We did under 5 miles that day.
Wednesday the 12th and Thursday we just walked to the usual park for some frisbee (about 2 miles round trip on the level). Tika doesn't much play frisbee any more--she always liked sniffing and exploring, but now she really doesn't seem to want to run for the frisbee more than half a dozen times. Boost is OK with that, but it makes me a little sad to see the dog of boundless energy now have bounds.
Friday afternoon the 14th I planned a nice long walk on the level along the Coyote Creek Trail, which is actually paved most of its length. We started in the very late afternoon; still warm, but the sun was sinking fast. I figured that we could get in 3 miles one way before the sun hit the horizon and then walk back the same route at dusk, but by 1.5 miles, Tika was dragging so much that we turned back and got in barely 3 miles.
And, of course, every morning and afternoon we play in the yard--tossing the toy, playing tug of war, maybe doing some weaves and jumps. Which I did Sunday morning the 16th, then went off to see a movie and get some groceries.
When I came home, Tika didn't want to stand up. When I tried to encourage her with a treat, she cried in pain every time she tried. I gave her a Rimadyl and left her alone for about 3 hours. She did, finally, stand up, but walked painfully and hunched and slowly down the stairs for dinner, which she ate enthusiastically.
But she wouldn't do a nose touch to my hand or anything else, not even sit, and then she went back upstairs to bed. (Funny that whenever she's not feeling well or in pain, she always goes upstairs to lie on my bed--which she has to jump up onto.)
Anyway, after another hour of her again being in crying pain whenever she tried to stand, I decided to take her to the Emergency Clinic. Because what dog worth their salt ever goes over the deep end during regular business hours when the regular vet is in the office? I *carried* her downstairs and set her down in the car, and she immediately lay down and looked miserable. (Usually seh loves looking to see what's going on.)
When we got to the Clinic and I opened the car door, she immediately stood up and wanted to get out and didn't want me lifting her. She pulled intensely on the leash, wanting to go explore (although still obviously hunched over). I walked her and Boost around outside, and since she could do that OK, so I decided NOT to go in to the Emergency Clinic and save myself a bundle.
Instead, I stopped at the local park and walked both dogs around on leash. Tika had a lovely poop and then her head and tail came up and she looked quite happy and normal. But, after we'd been home for a little while and she'd been lying down, it started all over again.
In the morning, same thing. I gave her another Rimadyl, but she didn't want to go outside or do anything. So I called the regular vet and made an appointment for 4:30 that afternoon. All day Tika looked miserable and yelped and cried whenever she tried to stand up--which she would do, but oh the poor suffering thing looked so miserable when she tried to walk!
It's about a half hour drive to the vet (there are closer ones, but I like this one), so I was keeping an eye on the clock about 3:45 while Boost and I were out in the yard playing, when suddenly WHO should come LEAPING through the doggie door, JUMPING down the steps, and BOUNDING across the yard, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ME WANT TUG! ME RUN RUN RUN!
Jeez, smack me with a spoon! Five minutes before, and for the previous 26 hours or so, she'd been in agony.
Anyhoo, we DID go to the vet and he couldn't find ANYTHING sore about her. He thinks it's probably the arthritis in her neck--he'd warned me before (and this has actually happened before) that if she tweaks her neck just the wrong way, it'll pinch a nerve and could be extremely painful. So apparently she somehow UNtweaked her neck and everything was fine.
We decided on three days of rest and rimadyl to make sure that any inflammation had a chance to ease up.
On Friday (4 days after that), I decided to try another hikey walk. It was dinnertime, but I figured that it was better to hike first, maybe about 4-5 miles of nice brisk walking, and eat afterwards. I picked a nice, easy, on-the-level hike along the Los Alamitos Creek Trail, also paved, winding among the trees, a nice pleasant walk not far from home. We got there and started walking, and Tika started out sniffing and brisk, but within the first half mile got slower. And slower. And slower. Not showing interest in things. Not pulling on the leash at all. Even lagging behind me by the 3/4-mile marker. I was determined to do at least one mile before turning back.
I was pretty bummed that she was still (or again) in such sorry shape after all that rest, and still on rimadyl, and feeling sorry for myself that my hiking and agility companion was getting old. Poor me. Poor dog.
At the 1-mile marker I sat on a bench to give her a break and do a little massage, then rest. She seemed happy for the attention and not actually in pain.
(Oh, and as I sat there, another agility person jogged by with her dogs and we were both surprised to see each other there.)
Finally stood up and asked Tika what she wanted to do. She immediately leaned into the leash in the direction of back-to-the car. She *pulled* me almost the whole mile back to the car, walking briskly and determinedly and I had to keep reminding her to ease up. As we raced back towards the car, I pondered Tika's sudden recovery and energy, and it dawned on me:
It was #$@%* DINNERTIME and Tika wanted ME GO EAT, not stupid walk, not stupid get further away from food. She wasn't slow because she was in pain or getting old, but because she was getting farther away from dinner!
Sunday, I mapped out a nice aggressive 6-mile hike at Sunol Regional Park with plenty of uphill and downhill. We got a later start than I'd have liked--hit the trail about 9:30--and the day warmed rapidly. The first .6 miles were all uphill, and it just about wiped me out. We stopped twice for drinks and, among the three of us, polished off the two one-liter bottles of water I'd packed. I still had a very large bottle of water left, but I couldn't face another mile of uphill trail and wimped out onto an easier trail that headed gradually back down. So, again, we got in just about 3 miles.
But it was off-leash, which was very nice for all of us. And Tika looked like she was doing better than me, although neither of us as perky as Boost--but even Boost wasn't racing back and forth with energy that day.
In the end, we all seem to be fairly healthy, getting older, slowing down, but not in any great physical distress, thank goodness.