Cooper and I are ramping up—and down–our daily outings.
As always, he is unruffled when being requires an expansion of our routine. If I am honest, my “Beagle Boy” is an exemplar of being, a trait that has run strong in the beagles I have known and one to which I aspire.
Cooper is progressing through another aging phase as his vertebral disks join his joints in degenerating—it is a condition we share–heightened by the dripping, Florida humidity that hails spring’s slide into summer, silent but steady. It is a fully body experience for both of us.
A week ago, Cooper’s front legs gave way as he stumbled, searching for a way to stay standing. His back legs held while both front legs were indecisive when it came to a simultaneous up or down.
We had not met this moment before.
Cooper kept calm—clearly, an anthropomorphic observation on my part–for an animal’s survival instinct is to cloak injury or weakness. I like to think I played my part in the deception as I kept talking in a tone he knows.
The moment seemed to require it.
Most of Cooper’s vocal responses are like a lilt, whether as a question, agreement, or his observations irrespective of mine. Infrequently, he sighs a low, gravelly moan that seems to signify resignation as well as contentment.
In this moment on the ground, however, he offered no comment.
Rather, he focused on breathing that was not panting, and I found myself breathing with him. We were in no hurry as we were within the confines of our apartment complex, and we had a sunset if we needed it, which we didn’t. Eventually, Cooper’s legs found themselves and a familiar rhythm, although forever changed.
For awhile, we confined ourselves to the area just outside our apartment, which is woefully inadequate. A day without an outing to a park or at least a ride in the car is like a day that never seems to start, as if we are willing to let it pass us by. Admittedly, that is how it feels to me, but if I read Cooper’s keening correctly, he concurs.
He is his own beagle, a definite advantage in being, as is having a portable canine ramp.
Cooper has always used the ramp to stroll onto our adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed, which sits too high for any access with ease. The ramp is also adjustable, shrinking to half its size and sporting a side carrying handle.
With medication and rest, Cooper stabilized. We moved into our next moment.
I carried the ramp outside and secured it while Cooper “waited” just inside the apartment door, trusting in the fact that he was wearing his harness, which was actually attached to his leash–both good signs. Yet ever aware, he kept his nose to the door, only backing off to let me proclaim that “bye-bye” was a go–Beagle Boy found his grin, again.
Even with disk disease and deteriorating joints, Cooper strives for the handsome gait that has all but left him. In seeing his ramp with his car for the first time, he took that in stride as well—allowing me to guide him in—bearing the grace of the being he is.
Once in the car, I buckled us into our seats. With hand and paw on the gear shift, we moved into yet another moment.
For those of you who want to follow my ROW80 progress, you may view it here.