It first happened about a year and a half ago. Having gone for a hike, we made our way back to my trusty Subaru Forester. I opened the hatch, and urged Simon and Shawnee to jump in.
Shawnee, full of energy and enthusiasm, jumped up with the agility of a mountain goat. Simon didn’t seem as interested, so I threw a couple of dog biscuits in as incentive.
He made a valiant effort, but only got his front legs in as his back legs dangled off the back of the tailgate. I grabbed his back end and shoved him in, but it pained me to do so. Both in terms of hefting a 60-pound dog into my car, but also emotionally as I acknowledge he was finally showing signs of his age at 13 years old.
We remedied his lack of spring from his back legs by purchasing a PupStep. Basically a doggy stepladder that provided 3-4 steps for him to climb to get into the car. For the next year, this worked like a charm, as he quickly mastered climbing up the steps.
But then a couple of months ago, he had a misfire on the PupStep, where his back legs splayed and he collapsed in a heap at the bottom. After, that he became fearful, not trusting his body to get him to the top. We tried high value treats to get him to go up, but he would start to shake, afraid he’d end up in a heap again.
Otherwise, though, Simon still got around pretty well. He still went for our 3-mile hikes with Shawnee to North Boulder Creek, still had a good appetite, and still loved sniffing out critters and poop-sicles (frozen poop) in the back yard.
But what would we do if we couldn’t figure out a way to get him the car. This particularly worried me during wildfire season. We had to be able to get him into the car if we had to evacuate.
He didn’t like being grabbed by the two of us and slung in. At 14 years old, Simon has a myriad of lumps and bumps covering his retriever body, and though most seemed to be fatty tumors, who knew if something hurt when we squeezed on it. I have given up on getting them all checked out by the vet at this point.
But out walking a few weeks ago, I encountered our neighbor with his Border Collie. Knowing Waylon is about 13 years old, I asked Jamie how he was doing.
“He’s doing much better since we started giving him something called Up and Moving. He had gotten to the point where he could hardly get up off the floor, but this stuff really works.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a supplement you put in their food. Just google it, you’ll find it.”
I went home to check it out through a website, Therabis.com. Instead of marijuana, their products are hemp-based cannabinoids. And apparently, it eases joint pain and helps older dogs get moving again. Another combination helps ease dog’s anxiety. It seemed promising.
Simon’s been on it for about three weeks now, and seems to be moving better than ever. The big test will be seeing if he can navigate his Pup-a-step with more confidence now.
As Simon nears 15 years of age, I figure anything I can give him to provide him a better quality of life in his old is well worth the money.