They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to get an old dog to the desert. I’m living proof. Without the care and attention of a bunch of people, I wouldn’t be lying here in the Arizona sun, soaking up as many of those healing rays as I can. Nope. I’d either be struggling through the snow at home, having to wear the boots that have become tripping hazards for my old legs, or, even worse, I’d be buried under it, in one of my nests turned grave.
Sounds grim, I know, but it’s the truth. Back in the summer, and even more so in the fall, none of us were sure I was going to make it this far. At one of my fall appointments, the vet suggested that Teresa and Nollind check out the “Quality of Life” scale that’s available online, so they’d have a sense of when it was “time”. And that’s “time” with that final, ominous sound, not the way it’s said when it’s time for supper or a walk.
When we took our fall camping trip to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, I had kind of a rough go. I was feeling very tired and starting to cough. My arthritis was making it impossible for me to climb the steps into the trailer or navigate out again. And I couldn’t make it more than a few hours without having an accident in the house or even the truck. The planned winter trip to the desert was off. Teresa and Nollind would stay home to look after their ailing, aging dog.
At least, that was, until they observed my increased stiffness with the cold weather and my struggle to walk on snow-covered or icy ground. That was when they started working on a plan to get me to the desert.
In early November, the cocktail of medications and supplements that Dr. Beth Barrett put me on really started to do their work. I was able to walk a little farther in the mornings without pain and I had more energy with no coughing. My appetite was back, putting a stop to the weight loss I’d been experiencing, and the shine returned to my coat. Another vet on Dr. Barrett’s team, Bronwyn, suggested that I be tested for a bladder infection and when the test came back positive and they put me on some aggressive antibiotics, my issues with incontinence were gone. I was back to my old “pee when I feel like it” self and a much more able travelling companion.
Every two weeks, from August to December, vet tech Roxanne administered my Legend injection and, when she was packing up all of my winter meds, she included clear and thorough instructions for how the Legend was to be given by the vets we’d see during our travels. This information came in very handy at our first vet visit in Las Vegas when the vet wanted to inject my muscles instead of my veins.
My good friend, Laurana, loaned us her PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) machine that got me through the worst of the pain back in the fall and I think helped my heart and kidneys until Dr. Barrett’s diet changes and medications had a chance to do their good work.
The trip down was a breeze, largely because of Dame Dixie’s magical meds that she gave me last year. It’s not a drug I couldn’t get from the vet I was seeing at the time, it just wasn’t something they suggested. It works perfectly for me, completely removes the anxiety from travelling.
Dixie’s people, my good friends G and S, gave us a bunch of her things when, sadly, she passed on this spring, and part of that kit was a raised bowl stand. Thanks to their generosity, my meals have become more comfortable and I’m more inclined to finish them, “powering up” more easily for our walks. And Nollind used the double bowl holder as a prototype for the trailer-sized version below.
Nollind also built me a ten-foot ramp and covered it in carpet, so that I can safely get from the ground into the trailer and back out again. Not only has it saved my joints from hard landings and stair-climbing mishaps, but it’s given me back the independence that is central to my nature (as you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog posts for awhile).
And then there’s Teresa, of course, my greatest advocate, who orchestrated all of the above. The time, the cost, the trouble, all seem irrelevant when it comes to my well-being. (Although I think I pushed her pretty close to the edge with those middle-of-the-night trips outside and regular mop-ups before the bladder thing got resolved.)
Later today I’ll add another person to the village, when we go to see the vet in Blythe, California, about a twenty-minute drive from our camp in Quartzsite. They’ll be giving me my Legend injections every couple of weeks during our time down here.
And so, people of my village, these next three months, as I walk on warm, dry ground and nap in the sun, I’ll think of all of you. I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m certain of it.