A couple of years ago I was polling my friends and family for blog ideas. Normally, I can make an anecdote out of anything, but at that moment the best I could do was stare and quietly drool (actually, I’d like to think of that as a favorite past-time – my hobby). My friend Lori threw out a ton of ideas which included a regular update on Sam, our rescue beagle and for a couple of years now I’ve been providing those updates.
Sam has made for the perfect subject. Not only is she cute, sweet and a bit mischievous, she has also gone through a lot of personal struggles along the way. From her two bouts with something akin to Bell’s palsy, which left half her face paralyzed, to two knee surgeries to repair torn CCLs, to rehab and finally to her struggle with arthritis. These posts allow me to bring folks updates on her adventures and her health.
Our ultimate goal with Sam has always been to give her the best life possible given her limitations. While that doesn’t include people food (although the occasional popcorn kernel or green bean may find its way to the floor) or eating the kitties (yet!), she enjoys pet beds in nearly every room, pet stairs to her favorite spot on the couch, a ramp that takes her down to the backyard and according to her, a well stocked yard filled with bunnies for her to chase and occasionally nom triumphantly.
Lately our focus has shifted from Sam to our aging cat Sage. Sage is a 14 year old DSH who still believes she’s a kitten. I’m sorry, I misspoke. Sage is our 14 year old kitten. Sage had started dropping weight over the summer due to undiagnosed hyperthyroidism – something that’s not uncommon in older cats. To try to correct the weight loss, pre-diagnosis, I started buying a lot of fancy smelly wet cat food. My thought was, “hey, she’s old – she can eat what she wants as long as she eats”. Her sister (litter mate) Hodi, who does not suffer from hyperthyroidism and is a walking ball of fuzz with tiny hidden little legs was very interested in this new change. New food started appearing on the cat stand – a small independent table that Sage can leap to with ease, that is too high for the beagle and that Hodi must be delivered to (thus allowing time for the special food to be cleared and the boring dry food to be spotlighted once again – all to the grumpy one’s (Hodi again) great dismay).
The wet food smell was heavenly. I know this from talking to both Sam who started licking the pet stand and Hodi who frowned every time I took the wet food away.
Once the wet food began to appear, I noticed Sam was spending extra time in the kitchen. I could tell she was carefully working out the geometry involved in getting to that table. Lines danced through the air as she worked out the various angles, assessed jump points, imagined opposable thumbs, and sized up the relative weight of kitchen furniture to beagle mass. It was all very complicated and I was sent away on several occasions, because I was being distracting. I take the blame for this fixation. If the smell weren’t compelling enough, I had also started pulling a chair out to see if that would help Sage since she was growing tinier by the day. Once Sam saw the chair, the final bits of the equation fell into place. “AHA! A chair! That’s the last piece. Puzzle solved!” Now she just had to wait for an opportunity.
One Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, I’d done my morning pet chores and headed back to bed. I tossed around a bit then realized I couldn’t sleep, so I got back up, went to the kitchen, and flicked on the light. That’s when I found Sam standing in the middle of the table looking very surprised. She had finally worked out a way to get up there and was trying to work out how to make the final leap to the cat stand. Sam wagged excitedly while I tried to take a picture. Let me say it’s hard when you’ve got a dog who really wants to get down, knowing this might fall under the list of “bad girl” things – so sadly, there were no pictures that weren’t incredibly blurry.
As I looked at her, as she nervously stood on the edge of the table, I was torn between being a bit mad and, “my arthritic dog with her repaired CCLs got onto the table without any help! You go, girl!” I settled for an indulgent, “you’re lucky you’re funny.” Sam wagged and scampered off with a promise to never do that within my eye-shot again. The same promise she makes whenever she’s caught in the litter box or sneaking something off of the counter. “Right! You guys “see” things, I’ve really got to do something about that.” We sleep with one eye open.
I surveyed the crime scene one last time before leaving the kitchen. The chairs were barely touched. In fact, I’m not sure which once she could have used on her way up. Very sneaky this one.
Since then, Sage started receiving her thyroid medicine – a little dollop twice a day in each ear. Sam has moved on to other interests, namely working on solving new food puzzles like how to deal with a table that’s now further from the cat food stand.
As we change our focus to getting Sage healthy, I look forward to Sam having more grand days like that Saturday. For years my only wish for Sam was that she would have more good days than bad – that she know some amount of happiness and joy – things denied her in her early life. I never imagined I’d find her proudly standing in the middle of our table.
I hope life continues to surprise her and us.