Can you believe it is 2012? I've been with Mommy for 11 years now, which is a long time for a dog who was dumped as a puppy, but you can read my Gotcha Day post below if you haven't already done so.
January was a busy month for me. Besides celebrating my Gotcha Day I had to go get my annual checkup and shots and Mommy and I took a bunch of long (over 6 mile) walks and a 5.3 mile hike too because the weather was so nice. Normally around here January is very cold and snowy. Below zero temperatures are not unusual and neither are big snow storms that make Mommy stay home from work. But this year we had some days when the temperatures were in the 50s and we've hardly had any snow! Around this time last year Mommy and I were still digging out from SnOMG and today, after we took a five mile morning walk in upper 40 degree temps and I went WADING IN THE LAKE which has started Breakup already, Mommy noticed that some of her hosta and irises were sending up shoots! Crazy weather.
Anyway, I should tell you that my vet appointment went well. The vet said that I looked very good and was in very good shape even though it was obvious that I have lost almost complete sensation and movement in my left hind leg. She said that normally she would see a lot more muscle loss in a leg like mine, but I still have quite a bit of muscle there. Part of that is due to the fact that I had very powerful hind legs to begin with (after all I could take squirrels off trees when they were 12 feet off the ground in my younger days using my patented Double-Jump method), but it is also because Mommy is still taking me for long walks and hikes and stuff. We still try to do at least 3-5 miles of walking a day and when Mommy was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't do more than about 6 miles of hiking at a time anymore the vet said she should be proud that I still do 6 miles. Timber's daddy told Mommy the other day when she said I didn't do much more than 4 mile walks before I get grumpy that he would be very very grumpy if anyone made HIM walk 4 miles! He is a good ten years younger than Mommy and a hunter to boot so Mommy thought this was very funny. The vet and Mommy were going to take me off the chewable heartworm pills because the beef tallow in them started to really upset my stomach at the end of the year last year, but when Mommy tried to get my perscription for a plain tablet form filled we found out that Merial had stop making the tablets. When I start taking the pill again next month I will have to take some stomach medicine before and after I take the tablet. The alternative chewable is made with pork, which is just as hard on my stomach, and we don't know how I'd react to the medicine so I'm sticking with the ones I've been using.
Also this month I started doing stretching exercises. These are very fun exercises which involve getting cookies at the height of the stretch so it is even more fun. Mommy wishes that someone would give her treats when she exercises, but nobody is ever there with M&Ms when she is doing sit ups. That's why she rarely does them. My chiropractor had sent out a link to the stretches and I was going to share the page, but it is gone. Basically there are 6 stretches. In the first one I do Paws Up on the window seat and then stretch up with my back as long and straight as I can get it to reach the cookie. For the second one Mommy holds a cookie between my front paws and I have to tuck my head under my chest to reach it. Then Mommy holds a cookie by my butt and I have to curl in as tight a circle as possible to reach it. Then I have to step over some poles and walk backward and walk sideways and I get bits of Mommy Cookies each time! It is kind of like when I was learning all my circus tricks, but it is supposed to help my back and hind legs and balance. Mommy and I both think it helps. When I don't do them I get stuck on the couch and bed more often because I can't turn my hips or I'm just afraid to jump down without a spotter. Then I have to bark for Mommy to come help me, but when I do do them I seem to have better control over my hips.
I do sometimes feel like an old dog, especially if the weather shifts from cold to warm or warm to cold which it has done a lot of this month. One day I slept in until 12:30 in the afternoon, ate breakfast and went back to bed. Mommy would have worried about me, but I woke up again at 2:00 p.m. and asked to take a walk and when we went I led Mommy on a 6 1/2 mile long walk around town. The next morning I told Mommy I was too tired to walk the 5 feet from my kitchen bed to where she had put down my Sunday egg, so she brought it to my bed for me to eat, but that afternoon I took another, not quite as long walk.
Talking about walks reminds me of another thing about this weird weather. The coyotes are out during the daytime hunting fat winter squirrels. Mommy and I saw one not 20 feet from us on one of our morning walks. He stopped hunting and looked at us and we looked at him and Mommy said, "Okay, we've seen each other now you get deeper in the woods where you belong." and he turned around and trotted into the woods. After he was gone I barked at him and I wanted to follow him to see where he went, but Mommy said that was a no because he probably had a den in there with a lady coyote and he wouldn't want me near her. She says we are going to have to be extra careful at that spot come April in case they have puppies there.
Finally this month I discovered something that Mommy has kept secret from me for 11 years! There are these things in town called "alleys". We have passed these alleys on our walks for 11 years and Mommy has always walked me by them so I thought they were really long driveways, and you don't walk up someone's driveway if you aren't visiting, but they aren't driveways at all! They are roads that lead BEHIND the stores and they are full of wonderful things like garbage bags and dumpsters and rats' nests. There are smells of cats and rats and mice and squirrels and raccoons and possums and skunks and coyotes and foxes and rotten food and so many other things! The only reason we walked up one was that Mommy and I were heading up to see the feed store guys and up ahead there was a BAD DOG not on a leash with his human nearly a block behind him talking on his cellphone and not paying any attention. Mommy took me into the alley so we could pass them without the BAD DOG seeing us and that is when I learned how wonderful alleys were. I could spend an hour in one sniffing around and not find all the scents. Now that I know what they are I've been insisting on walking through every one of them. Today we were walking in one and a lady came into it from the side not the end and I learned that some alleys have passageways between the buildings that you can walk through. I insisted on taking the one the lady had taken and when we got to the next passageway down the road I made Mommy take it back to the alley. Walks into town have become brand new adventures with this wonderful discovery. Who'd have guessed that there was a whole secret world in town that I knew nothing about?!