Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Round Trip Ticket

I get frustrated with my senior dog from time to time. Her nightly tap dance getting in bed; her needing me to park the car where there is a steep curb; her need for my constant "You can do it" reassurance; her uncertainty in her own, once strong body. It also breaks my heart.

The heart break is from witnessing Mabel flounder, legs akimbo, voice shrieking. It frightens both of us! The frustration is from the knowledge that ... at least some of it is an act.

Getting in Bed (NOT):

{Updated 8/7/13 - These steps turn over unless the large dog hits the center of the step every time! Do not buy for large dogs!!!}

Knowing she was aging and that most of my rottens died by age 8,  I purchased steps to aid Mabel getting in and out of bed almost two years ago. She scoffs at them.

Yet there is that nightly tap dance... she comes in, eats her duck jerky on the floor and paces around the bed to make certain there is more jerky on the bed for her. She goes to the foot of the bed and sizes up it's height (as if it got taller since this morning). She goes out in the hall and runs in...and stops short. Lather, rinse, repeat. Several times.

Frustrated, I step into the bathroom and brush my teeth. I potty. Knowing that I'm now a captive audience, she comes into the tiny bathroom for pets and reassurance. She does her three point turn that it takes to get her long body out of there: back up to the shower, tilt head into bedroom, twist rear end. As a puppy, this was all she needed to get on the bed. Not any more.

The hallway maneuvers begin again. If I linger too long in the bathroom, she disappears... in the kitchen for water, out on the back porch or in a dog bed in the living room. The yelling begins... sigh.

After much pleading on my part -- "USE YOUR STEPPIE!" -- she simply leaps and is in bed! Normally, I think I would be more patient. But I have it on good authority...

It's All a Lie: 

When I was home for my sister's funeral, I was gone for two weeks and for the first time ever, Mabel's night nurse was not available. I had to rely on Ms. RottRover to put the girl in bed. I had dutifully described the process and rituals, only to be told... that's not how it works! No, Auntie RottRover simply told Mabel Lou to "get in bed." One leap and done! No tap dancing, no disappearing, no crying! BRAT!

But it's hard to know she's faking it when I've seen her fall. And then there is her latest thing: she loves to go "downstairs" (all three steep steps) to the den. Her bed down there was a favorite for many years, especially when I'm cooking...there's a straight line view of the stove and oven.

Now, she goes down there and cries when it's time to come up those steep steps. And honestly, I hurt too. Sometimes when she does this, I get the key to that door and go outside, down the less steep doorsteps and let her out that way!

But yesterday, when she pulled this stunt, I told her, "You've bought a round trip ticket Mabel Lou! Don't go down there if you can't come back up!" And I left the kitchen. 

She was none too happy. But shortly, she was grousing as she curled up behind my desk! And those steps at the foot of the bed? She used them, on her own, no encouragement from me, for the the first time ever last night!


♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

We wondered where that title would lead us. Great story. Those seniors can really run circles around their peeps. Phantom has quite a few tricks up his furs too:)

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

rottrover said...

Shhhhhhhh....sometimes my legs slip out from under me. It's so embarrassing and freaks mom out.


GOOSE said...

Getting older is tough. I'm 13 and yes I am still very active and can sprint up mountains. BUTT... there are times when I am tired and such and MOM has to help me into the Blazer.

Dexter said...

Oh dear, I know exactly what you are talking about. Dogs don't have to get old to start having weird rituals. Dex won't get onto the couch after his late night potty unless I sit on it first so that he can jump up and snuggle. If I go to my chair he just makes sad face.

But I agree that it can be hard with a senior to know when they are messing with your head and when they are really in distress.

Mango Momma