I know y'all come here to catch up on the latest rehab stuff, and I really appreciate that. But the house stuff happens outside the hours I put into my full-time job, and it happens outside the hours I devote to the dogs. Sometimes work stuff, or dog stuff, takes precedence.
That's what I'm going to write about tonight. Specifically, my dog Roscoe.
Roscoe is 12.5 years old, and I got him when he was 8 weeks old. He's been a part of close to 30% of my entire life, which is kinda bonkers.
In the time we've been together, Roscoe has put 50 lifetimes of mileage on his legs, and I like to think I've provided him with a pretty unique and exciting life. For his first 7 or 8 years of life, I took him to any number of parks - either for a few laps around the place or full blown hikes, all leash-free of course - about 3 times a week.
3 excursions a week X 52 weeks in a year X 7 years....he had well over 1,000 adventures under his belt by the time he turned 8. Rain, snow, woods, trails, hills, fields, rivers, creeks, lakes, he's done it all, hundreds of times over, and I hope he enjoyed every minute of it. I don't know if it's something I did, or if I just got lucky with his combination of breeds (30% lab, 20% border collie, 50% split up evenly between doberman, chow, Australian cattle dog, Australian shepherd), but he's been the BEST park & hiking buddy ever.
Never needed a leash. Always led the way. Never got startled or spooked or ran off. Walked at a steady, solid clip out in front and if I decided to meander away from a trail, 9 times out of 10 when it was time to find the trail again, he'd find it before I did. I have told Roscoe this many times and it's the absolute truth: my favorite thing to do in the whole world has been taking him out hiking, or to one of the local parks @ 6am when we have the place to ourselves.
At home, he always wanted to be close to me. He'd lay on the couch next to me if I was watching TV, for many years he slept in my bed, and if nothing else, he'd plop down wherever I was and made sure some part of his body was touching mine.
But everybody gets old. Things change. Things stop working. Roscoe is not immune to this, and over the past couple years he's slowed down considerably. Lately, it's gotten worse. He's drinking a LOT of water. He can't keep up on hikes now, and trudges along behind me while Freckles, who is almost 2, runs out in front. He pants and breathes heavily. He's got kind of a pot belly look goin' on. I have to pick him up to get him in my truck because he can't do it on his own. He can still do stairs, but barely. A few months back, sort of randomly one day, he couldn't stand up from a laying down position. A reload of joint supplements and about 4 straight meals of salmon and it passed. Now...he's losing hair on his tail and hind legs.
I did some homework and felt like I had the situation diagnosed - but definitely not fixed - and yesterday, after a couple trips to the vet, including an ultrasound that necessitated the shaving of all his belly hair, my suspicions were confirmed: Cushing Syndrome.
Long story short, Cushing Syndrome isn't super uncommon in older dogs. The version he has stems from an inoperable brain tumor that makes his body chemistry real wonky. It's caused the hair loss, the water consumption, the breathing stuff, the belly, and it's also messed up his liver.
It's a situation that can be medicated, potentially, but not cured. The downside is that often times the medication results in side effects that suck worse for the dog than the Cushing Syndrome. We'll give it a shot and see how things go, but I do believe that from this point on, Roscoe will be a little bit limited in terms of what he can do.
A couple years ago, the company I work for asked me to spend 3 months in Sheboygan, WI. It turned out to be a really, really, awesome trip, and part of that stems from waking up stupid early every Saturday and going anywhere, with Roscoe, worth hiking within about a 3-hour radius of our home base in Sheboygan. There's a ton of super cool stuff in WI, and we got to check a lot of it out.
Now...he wouldn't be able to do a lot of those hikes, especially the nonsense we tackled at Devil's Lake State Park. The worst part is that he still wants to; every Saturday or Sunday morning when I ask the dogs if they want to "go on an adventure", Freckles bounces off the walls - she's a pretty excitable little girl - and Roscoe is right behind her, waiting at the door to leave the house to go do some hikin'. He joins us, and every now and then he kinda turns back the clock a handful of years, but those moments only last for a minute or two. His little body - he's 20 pounds lighter than he was in his prime - can't do it like it used to.
I don't believe much in changing a way of life out of fear or because it may not be as easy as it once was, so as long as Roscoe wants to go out with Freckles and I on the weekends, he's gonna get to go. He still eats good, he still sleeps good, and he still growls at the mailman every day. Hopefully the medicine he starts next week will help with some of his Cushing issues.
How does any of this relate to a house rehab? Well...house progress has been slowed down a hair lately, but that's because there are more important things in life than repointing brick or gutting a basement or building a porch, and ol' Roscoe is 4,000% at the top of that list.