Maddi is our oldie – a 9-year old Pyrenan Mountain Dog we rescued approximately 6-7 years ago. Lately, we have noticed a pronounced limp in her left hind leg, so that she seems to almost hop along rather than walk. At Maddi’s age, elderly for a Pyrenean, we do expect some presentation of the usual old age issues: arthritis; loss of muscle; incontinence; other ailments; and even doggy dementia.

About 2 weeks ago, Maddi developed a hop-along gait. It looked very painful to me and I wondered if she had twisted or broken something. Then I noticed that she did not seem to be uncomfortable when lying down; although, having said that, she will oftentimes get up and reposition herself again, resulting in lots of restlessness before finally settling quietly.

Maddi will also stand quite happily on all four feet without flinching. Moreover, over the past months, she has developed a tendency to show great excitement when her food is being prepared for her: voicing her approbation and jumping up and down in anticipation. My thoughts? Well, Maddi cannot have hurt her leg, and the limping could be attributed to arthritic pains.

Walking the dogs together has taken a further twist. Maddi has never been a great walker, preferring the comfort of a settee to the sometimes damp weather of the great outdoors. Zack, on the other hand, will march out, best foot forward, in wind, rain, sleet or snow. Poor Hubby had already been taking the dogs out separately at least once a day because of Maddi’s dislike for long distance walks. Now that Maddi’s physical ability and desire to walk has slackened further, he has to do this twice a day instead so that Zack can get a proper walk each time.

Maddi and Zack at Thirlmere, Lake District.

Maddi has the most beautiful deep brown eyes and I wonder sometimes how long more she will be with us. Monty, our first Pyrenean, went very suddenly. We thought he had arthritis but he had cancer instead, and the bone in his hind leg was literally crumbling away. He had to be put to sleep. Maddi’s lameness presents itself differently so here’s hoping it is not cancer.

Hubby is talking about rescuing another Pyrenean, but I don’t think I want to go there right now. We had been asked earlier this year to take on a Pyrenean puppy but circumstances did not permit. I feel that Zack would appreciate being the only dog in the household at least for some while. He is such a loving dog that he still tries to climb into our laps despite the fact that he is more than 6 feet tall when standing tall on his hind legs!

Isn’t it a wonder how humans can get so attached to creatures of a different species? We share love bonds with our pets that are so deep and abiding they become one with the rest of our human families. Thus we never fail to forget our beloved pets even after they are long gone. And we think, ‘If only they could continue healthy and stay with us for a longer time.’

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