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HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY FUR BOY! ♥♥♥♥♥
Teddy is 17 today. Or maybe 18 (he was at least 1, though maybe 2, when I rescued him; he was abandoned in San Pedro, CA). Because he was such a happy, fun, wild man and a force of nature, I thought that April 1st would be a good Birthday for him. He was the Ultimate Court Jester. Because of his ‘exuberance’ I had to invent a better way to walk him (by the neck is not something I would ever do, and other harnesses just didn’t cut it). Thus the Walk Your Dog With Love harness was born. So, I owe him my entire life, and you’re only reading this because of him. Thank You Teddy.
This last year has had its challenges. I’ll try to be brief, because mentioning everything will be impossible, and ultimately really boring.
But first a Birthday Present from Teddy … for YOU to give to another dog. (Yes, that makes sense, wait for it). As a rescue dog, Teddy knows humans want an Easy, No Cost, High Impact way to help their favorite animal cause (rescue, shelter, etc.) It’s the Teddy Rescue Project. It takes 1 click. Here.
See his story below the video and pictures.
Teddy cruising in his new set of wheels. Bill Laston Memorial Fields, Lanesborough MA, March 31 2019
Last April, soon after his birthday, Teddy went on an eating strike. In older dogs, not eating is a sign of The End. So, I though ‘this is it, we are Here’. With a capital H. I started to feed him anything and everything he was willing to eat. ‘Medically’ this presented a problem: his vets and I were under the belief that he needed to eat a very restricted, Novel Protein diet. This was to prevent a reoccurrence of HGE
Over Time … and maybe because he started to take Prednisone for his physical issue. Prednisone, among its many magical and evil dark ways, stimulates the appetite. Around June, Teddy started to have some issues walking, a faint echo of what he had when he was 14 (read about this down the page too). His Neurologist thought that Prednisone would be the cure; and it might have. Not only was he eating, soon after, Teddy was back to walking again.
We took long walks, actually Hikes. 4-6 miles a day. It was part of his Health & Happiness regimen. Long story short on this - at 14, Teddy lost his back legs for a while. It happened suddenly one December day - his rear legs got all wonky and he couldn’t walk. It turned out he had horrible arthritis in some of his joints (mainly left hip), yet the main culprit was Neurological: 4 ruptured discs, and degenerative myelitis. I thought his walking days were over. Yet, because he is such a BadAss, and with this accurate diagnosis, regular physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. - he got better. And thus hiking many miles, every day, became A Thing. It was part of The Mission to keep Teddy Healthy & Happy. We hiked 6 miles a day. Up & Down Mt Greylock - highest peak in MA, where he regularly lives, and just a few miles from home. Walking up rises of 1000, 1100, 1200 feet, and back down (that’s over 100 stories). He was active with this intensity until just 4 months ago.
That’s what most of the last year was like, some bumps, and tons of Awesome hikes. We found lots of new trails, with their new challenges, and saw lots of totally fantastic views. Teddy was happy, healthy, eating and walking. Last winter we went to Duck, North Carolina so he could keep up these long hikes. Long hikes in MA during the winter aren’t happening: it can be 2 degrees with 30 mph winds, the trails get covered in 6 feet of snow, and the sidewalks and roads get covered in salt, snow, ice and slush. Not a fun place to hike, even for a BadAss. Duck, on the other hand, is much warmer, and has no snow or ice. We even found a Vet there that did acupuncture.
And everything was great…until this December (2018). Suddenly his back right leg (the problem one) started to give out. His walks became shorter, and shorter, barely a mile. And not on a trail, but on a flat boardwalk that Duck has. And then no walks at all, just pee and poo outings. His leg started dragging, knuckling, not cooperating with the rest of his body. What was going on? Not walking everyday started to take its Mental Toll on Teddy. Worse, he was unable to stand up to eat, unable to even turn around a couple of times before laying down, unable to do anything on his own. It was upsetting. To both of us.
Then, in a crazy turn of events, his rear right leg ’storked’; it became stuck in the Up position - like a stork. Many calls to Teddy’s team of Vets, his Physical Therapist, his masseuse, an emergency visit to North Carolina State University (the It medical school in NC), and different drugs & herbs to relax, to un-inflame, to relieve pain … Nothing really worked. The Neurologist and Orthopedist at NCSU said there was nothing they could ‘do’, but to keep doing what we were doing. I suggested going back to Physical Therapy, and they agreed, that would be a good idea. Uggg, from Duck, the nearest PT was 2 hours away.
Gnawing at the back of my mind, was the thought that his stork leg was something that could be ‘fixed’ by massage – because it seemed like a Charlie horse. I called a local human masseuse that was rumored to work on dogs. He’d just gotten back from a vacation, yet he said “Come on in”…with the caveat “But only because Teddy’s a dog. If he was a human, you’d have to wait for a few days”. So we went. And an hour later Teddy walked out with his leg starting to ‘unstork’. We went back the next day, and his right leg relaxed even more. Teddy seemed less stressed. Me too. It felt like there was a possibility that with some more ‘work’, he could get him back on his feet.
So, in early March, we headed back to Massachusetts, where he could go to regular physical therapy (hydrotherapy underwater treadmill 3 times a week), massage (2-3 times a week) and acupuncture (1x a week), and the home he’s lived in for 12 years (more on that in a moment).
That was just about three weeks ago. It seems longer, because since then Teddy’s back right leg has stopped working. It feels like it’s beyond rehab (though we won’t give up hope, just being realistic). He now gets walked in a Help 'Em Up butt lifter harness, and wears booties on his rear feet so the tops don’t get scraped up because of knuckling.
With the advent of his right leg totally going out, his left leg has gotten much weaker; its now also knuckling and not syncing with his front legs. So Teddy got a wheelchair for his back end. He’s had it since last Wednesday. Hopefully, these wheels will give him a sense of Independence, make walks ‘easier’ for him (and certainly easier for my right arm and back!), and keep his body strong and his Psyche intact. So far, he doesn’t hate the wheels (Good News). Yes, it’s a hassle to get him to start the walk (and to leave his home), yet once he gets rolling, things seem to be OK. In fact, yesterday (Sunday) we drove to a local dog walking path where Teddy took a spin and actually seemed to enjoy himself. THAT’S Great News.
Another layer on top of all of this is Teddy has what seems like Sundowner’s Syndrome. It happens to lots of older animals and humans. It’s supposed to be part of a progressive dementia. Sundowner’s means you’re up all night. You want to walk around. If you’re a dog, you huff & puff pant a lot. Things just aren’t ‘right’. You’re thirsty. You need to pee. You need to poop. In Teddy’s case, because he can’t walk, that means if he wants to do anything, his Dad needs to accompany him. This has added another twist to these Golden Years.
OK. What's this about the house he has lived in for 12 years? Teddy doesn’t want to be in that house! His new Favorite Place is the Honda Odyssey mini van. In the driveway. WTS?! During the day when he goes out to pee or for a walk, he pulls hard to get to the van. Where he happily - and quickly - goes to sleep. In the middle of the night, the same. So this is how it is. Dad has even started to work in the van (he’s writing this from the van right now. It’s better than a corner office; it has a 360 degree view). On nights when it above 35 degrees, they even sleep in it (2 bodies plus a blankie, it’s like camping, except no marshmallows).
We’re taking it one day or one minute at a time. Yes, he’s taking a lot more Rescue Remedy & CBD oil, and sniffing lavender & listening to calming classical music…actually both of us are doing this 😉.
To add to this, Teddy’s ‘team’ of Vets, therapists, masseuses, and all his friends, are in deep discussion with Dad about ‘When’. When does Teddy get The Grace that we can’t even give to our own grandparents and parents? The questions of Quality of Life are deeply discussed. The Question of Who am I doing this for - him or me? The Question of What is being a Dog. The Question of What is Suffering? The Question of What Is Love?
The Question about the Commitment I made when I found him. The commitment to the end of life – mine or his – whichever comes first.
Questions with no right answers. Yet with definite wrong answers. At this time, The Question, when asked back to the Questioners, gets a unanimous and astounding “No, Not Now”, as The Answer.
Is Teddy in pain? It doesn’t seem like it. Dogs are unusually Stoic, and don’t show pain. Teddy gets massaged regularly and his masseuse stretches his legs out. If he had pain, that’s when he would show it. But he doesn’t. He chills out and often falls asleep. Teddy is also off all of his meds - because none of them seemed to ‘touch’ him. He seems no worse because of it. Is he uncomfortable? Yes, when he can’t do what he wants to: when he needs to pee, or drink or anything… and needs a hand. That’s what I am here for. To give him that hand, until the Answer is Now.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.
For NOW, we’re hanging out together. Sleeping in the van together. Taking a spin. Barking with fervor at dogs and humans and squirrels that pass by (no more running up and down the fence line and being a total madman). Eating breakfast & dinner and snacks his dog friend Dagny sends him. Trying to stop him from eating coyote poop (WHAT is that about!). Listening to him snore quietly (and not so quietly sometimes). And singing goofy songs to him about how handsome he is, and what a BadAss he is, as I have always done. ♥
I Love You, you FurMonkey Supreme.
TEDDY IS 16
Woofy Birthday To You Baby Dog. I Love you so much.
Who is The Man? Teddy is The Man! I am so in Love with him; there aren’t even words to express it. And come to think of it, without Teddy, I would have never met you and your sweet dog!
You may already know Teddy, my Golden Boy. He was so difficult to walk when he was young (and ummm…just yesterday) that I had to come up with a Better Way to walk him. And thus Walk Your Dog With Love was born.
Even though I say Teddy is 16, he very well may be 17 … or even a little older. I can’t be sure, because I found him as a stray. What I can be sure of is that he is at least 16. The full story on that, and why April 1st is his birthday (think Happy & Wild Court Jester) is down the page.
See his story below the video and pictures.
Teddy about halfway through his 6.5 mile walk in Corolla, NC, March 27, 2018
This last year
To start off with – a lot of the photos you see of Teddy here and on social media now show him with a REAR attached harness. What is with that? Well, the truth of the matter is I now WANT him to pull. Yes, you heard right, I actually want to encourage his pulling. Life is strange that way! His entire rear end is very weak, and so now, as part of his physical fitness regime (we regularly walk 6 miles a day, more on that in a moment) I encourage him to pull. This helps to work his legs. It keeps him Strong. It keeps him Healthy.
As we get older we all start talking about our medical conditions, as if THAT was all there is to life. As the pictures and videos show - Teddy is full of life. He loves sniffing & snoozing and barking & acting silly. He Rocks. “Especially for an Older Dog”.
True, as we get older, remaining active and vigorous and happy is most important, even in the face of the tides of time come to wash these things away. So Yes, in this posting there is a lot of emphasis on “Health” as a gauge of How He Is Doing and it also drives a lot of What He Is Doing.
About 2 years ago Teddy was diagnosed with several ruptured discs, which really affected his right rear leg, and severe arthritis in his left rear leg (see below). In the past year he has also torn ligaments in both rear legs, and just a few months ago his right front leg started to become lame, ostensibly from arthritis.
So now, as an older dog, my whole focus has been on his health, longevity and quality of life. The main focus of this is keeping his body and mind healthy, and his stomach in shape (he has a gastrointestinal issue which pops up its deadly head now and then; stress also seems to be part of the issue). So he gets a very limited diet – which helps narrow down the risk, and we try to keep it calm and mellow, and we walk a ton. Walking helps to keep his limbs limber and lubricated, and it also lets him burn off energy, and being outside is just fun. Where else can you smell squirrels, rabbits and deer? Better yet, where else can you smell dead squirrels, rabbit and deer? And where else can you sniff rabbit poop … and try to eat it. And sniff coyote poop … and try to eat it!
WTS (What The Snout). He loves coyote poop. SOOOO disgusting. And worse, because of his gastro issues, the doctor totally did NOT prescribe that. What is crazier, is that even when he is Meh on his food (sniffing around it, eating it slowly... ) with Coyote poop… BOOM, he snarfs it down without even a chew. So, right now I am a little concerned about him losing the will to eat, and I am totally questioning what he wants to eat! I guess he questions what I eat too.
Our walks are very long now Five, Six or Seven miles long. It depends on the challenge: on a flat – like a beach - we will walk long, on an more challenging mountain trail, a little less.
Because of the arthritis, he is Not So Much on going for a walk to start. But once we get a mile or two in, his body loosens up, and he is Good To Go. Sometimes I even have to cut it short – just to make sure that he doesn’t overextend himself. I am sure we could walk 10 miles, but I don’t want to risk it. Fact: he actually walks more vigorously on the second half of the walk than then first half.
We used to walk ‘shorter’ 3 miles walks, but in the last 4 months, since his front leg started acting up, I realized that that was ‘torturing’ him twice – putting him through the Ouch to get to the Ahhh, twice. So now we walk one nice long walk. Not bad for an old man!
Teddy lives in Lanesboro Massachusetts, where winters are pretty harsh. Most all the hiking and walking trails get covered in feet of snow and ice, and the few places to walk are heavily salted, and covered in snow, slush and ice. Add to that temperatures from 2-20 degrees... well, you get the idea; walking 6 miles at a stretch is near impossible.
So Teddy went to North Carolina for the Winter where he enjoyed temperatures in the high 30's and low 40's, and there was no snow (mostly!). And walking was easier. That’s why so many of his recent Instagram and Facebook posts show him on a beach or a trail - with no snow.
"Treatment' of all kinds
Since his back and legs first gave out, part of Teddy's fitness routine has been to go to aqua therapy 3 times a week (at least when we are in MA). He splits his time between doing underwater treadmill and swimming. This helps him to build muscle and stay supple.
Every 2-3 weeks he also gets acupuncture, chiropractic and cold laser. These treatments are more about keeping him pain free and helping his body functions
Does any of this work? Can he do without the treatments, and The Walks and be just as fine? Who knows?! And it doesn’t matter. He seems to like the walks (once we get going), and he is still vigorous as ever. Worst case is that we get to spend time together, which seems like is a pretty good deal to me. I hope he thinks so too. DM
WOW, TEDDY IS 15! HAPPY HAPPY WOOF DAY! AND MANY MANY MORE!
I Love Teddy so much. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! There are not enough words to express how much I Love this baby dog. What a Great Experience it is knowing him and being with him. At 15 he is still a firecracker, and a Happy Wildman. You can see that in the videos of him below.
Yes, he has slowed down some. NO! Wait, he hasn't slowed down at all! More about Teddy under the videos. Even on the treadmill he is kicking tail!
ON THE BEACH, JANUARY 1, 2017
Taking on the Nor'Easter March 14, 2017
More from the beach, January 1, 2017
Super TreadMill Man, March 25, 2017
OK, so what has changed now that Teddy is 15? Well, last year Nature gave him a very arthritic left rear leg, torn ligaments in both legs, and some ruptured discs that affect both rear legs too. He also has the continuing saga of a belly that sometimes revolts. You can read about all of this way down on this page. Right, getting old ain't fun. Yet Teddy Keeps On Keeping On!
Teddy now goes to underwater treadmill therapy a couple of times a week (see the video) so that his rear end can stay strong enought that he can keep walking. Yet he is still ready to rock.
Nowadays we also walk with him attached from behind. How can the Poster Child and Inventor of the front-leading dog harness be walked from behind? Simple, now we WANT him to pull. YES, we want to strengthen his rear end, and having him pull into the harness can help do that.
And sure, we don't walk the miles and miles we used to...Wait a second, yes we do - we just parse it out over a few walks during the day - so that we don't stress his legs. He is usually willing to take the walks, I am the one that has to cut them short so that he doesn't hurt himself.
And yes, he does like to snooze a bit more. Yet not that much! He still prefers to sit in the front yard and bark atanything and everything that passes by. And he will still chase baby Reese, his two year old sister, around the yard. Though I do try to stop that... as he doesn't understand it's not the best idea with his rear chassis being in the condition it is.
OK - so one more time I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU TEDDY BOY!
THIS WAS THE POST FROM APRIL 1, 2016 WHEN TEDDY TURNED 14
Teddy is Walk Your Dog With Love’s Spokes Dog. And the harness's co-inventor. And my Soul Brother of a Doggy Mother.
Because of his crazzzzzy behavior, and because I found him as a stray pup, I chose April First as his birthday. Or maybe it chose him!
That was over 13 years ago, and a lot of miles and a lot of nose kisses ago. I LOVE YOU TEDDY!
This September, I noticed that he was waking up with a little morning stiffness. So we went to see the doctor. While the story about the search for 'what was going on', and what we will be doing in the future, is below. We just (literally) found out what IS going on; watch the Doc explain what he found.
LONG LONG STORY, SHORT.
In September of 2015 Teddy became less enthusiastic about the walks he used to love. By December he had a decided limp in his rear right leg. An X-ray showed he had pretty bad arthritis in his hip, on the left side. And thus the diagnosis was Arthritis in an Older Dog, and “This is how it is with an older dog”. Yet I knew in my heart that something else was wrong too, especially as I was feeling something was going on with his right leg.
By March I was sure of it. And also very concerned: his walking was rapidly getting worse, his rear legs would collapse if he tried to play tug with his rope, and he couldn’t get up on the couch or bed any more. In contrast, he would also have some really great days, walking miles with no issues. So I decided to get a bunch of other opinions, to get some more information, to see if we could get to the bottom of this. This is important for many reasons; even if Teddy can’t be Young Again, I don't want to treat him for something he doesn't have, giving him unneccesary drugs or therapies that might even make things worse. That would be a disservice.
By this point I was also very ready to get him an MRI, which would hopefully eliminate some of the guessing, and maybe even identify the potential issue.
The other opinions
Lastly, we went to a well recommended neurosurgeon who started the exam by watching him walk. Within 30 seconds he proposed that something was actually amiss in Teddy’s neck area, which was probably causing the issues in his hind legs. Indeed, it turns out that Teddy has 4 herniated discs pushing on his spine, causing nerve signal loss to his rear legs (with a bit in his front legs too). The most drastic intrusion on the spine is in his upper upper back; the T2 for those of you in the know.
So, we have begun a treatment based on this information. Is THIS diagnosis right? Is the new treatment plan a good one? I don’t know yet. Yet I do ‘feel’ that we are closer to the issue and to a ‘cure’. Am I willing to consider other causes and cure? Of course!
Is Teddy 14? Yes. Does Teddy have issues? Don’t we all?! As a friend of mine said when he saw Teddy walking “Growing old is not for the faint of heart”. Yet as another friend notes, “Old Age is not a disease”. Th