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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seize the moment - mountain biking and dog aging

Yesterday, I ended my day trying to ski in the meadow. Alas, we're in another winter thaw, and the snow is melting too fast. No more skiing until we get more snow. It's been an odd winter. For each of the past two winters, I cross-country skied on 'our' trails more than a hundred days in a row. This year has been hit and miss.

Yesterday, as I mountain biked through deep snow in 'Lion Gulch', my bike got completely snow-clogged. Then, when I got back on less snowy terrain, I realized that the brakes were dragging. I spent two hours last night trying to fix them to no avail. However, due to the mysteries of hydraulic brakes (probably a bubble in the line that will come back to haunt me), they fixed themselves overnight. That was a pleasant surprise this morning!

This good luck motivated me and K to hurry out onto the trails while the sun was still rising. Our furry friend, R, didn't join us due to a slight limp on his recently repaired forelimb. At the start of the mountain bike ride, we rode directly toward the sun on the trail, and then shortly later, we reached a higher vantage point to see the sunrise.

After dropping off K, I rode up to a high point that has a unique view. As long as I've lived here, I still stop in my tracks for views like this one.
Instead of mountain biking with me and K this morning, R hiked with my husband and our yellow lab, S. S has recently become completely deaf (earlier post), and this presents new dangers on the trails. He likes to walk directly behind me or my husband so it's dangerously easy for him to sneak off our path. This is especially true when I'm monitoring the mischievous adventures of the two younger dogs who are always ahead of me. For our recent outings, I've given S lots of treats for staying close to me and put a louder bell on him (which doesn't bug him since he can't hear it - the only advantage of his deafness). He did almost no wandering so that he could stay close to the treat deliverer (me). Moreover, when he did start to wander, I heard it right away. Maybe these simple changes will help prevent him from straying or becoming prey for a lion or coyote.

Below, S and his sister, K, snuggle up after a hike.
The photo below is from more than 4 years ago as S played with his puppy sister, K. He wasn't officially 'our' dog yet. He lived with my brother's family in the city and took extended vacations in the mountains with us. We were overjoyed when his humans asked us if he could join our pack about 3 years ago. He's a great big brother to K and R.S has started liking more comfort in recent years. During a mountain camping trip at more than 10,000' elevation, S liked to be wrapped in a sleeping bag in the mornings and evenings. Then, while camping on slickrock in Moab early last spring, he shared his sleeping bag with our puppy, R.

I talked with our vet about S's deafness and his recent behavior changes including short wanders during our hikes, evening pacing around the house, and a few housetraining accidents. She thinks that we're seeing early signs of 'cognitive dysfunction' (dog Alzheimers or plain senility) and proposed trying a drug called Anipryl for it. The logic behind starting it now, while he's still doing pretty well, is that it can dramatically slow the decline in mental function.
We're leaning toward trying it but I'd be interested to hear if others have experience with Anipryl or other treatments for dog senility.

Based on my experiences with my dogs and my health issues, one message keeps emerging. Seize the moment because our time on this Earth and with our dogs is precious and fleeting.


  1. I came over from Dog-Geek's blog. Your dogs are beautiful; and, it's obvious from your post that you and your husband are wonderful guardians for them! I'll be back to play 'catch-up' on your posts. I love the beautiful pictures of the mountains; and I can see why that one view takes away your breath every time!

  2. Beautiful photographs of the mountains.

    Hope the Anipryl helps your dog. It's so hard to see them age, isn't it?

  3. Having a giggle. Lilly says to tell you that sharing a sleeping bag with R is about the scariest thing she can imagine.

  4. The thought of Lilly's reaction to the mere idea of being in a sleeping bag with R made me giggle too!

  5. What wonderful puppy pictures of K and R. K's fur was so much darker. S was very beautiful too. Those sleeping bag pics made me laugh. It's been great looking at some of your older posts! :)


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