It isn’t easy getting older.
Our nine year old retriever is afflicted with arthritis in his back hips (thank goodness for glucosamine chondroitin which has made movement so much easier for him), doesn’t seem to see as well these days and is becoming a bit senile.
He likes to keep watch under the kitchen table whenever we’re eating a meal there–hopeful that scraps will fall and glad to keep an eye on all of us (or at least our legs) at the same time. Lately, though, when the meal is over an we all get up and eventually leave the kitchen, he forgets that he put himself under that table and could easily walk out. He believes that he is trapped under the table.
So Sam will lie, with his front paws and head sticking out between a chair and a table leg with plenty of space to stand up and walk freely, and offer a series of intermittent barks to remind us that he’s trapped under the table and he needs one of us to come and set him free.
One of us (usually me, but we all take our turns) will become sympathetic and head back to the kitchen. “Sam!” I’ll explain. “You’re not trapped.” We never actually taught Sam to understand English, so he just looks at me and tilts his head to the side, glad to have not been forgotten about by his friend. So then I make an elaborate show of setting him free. I’ll grab his collar and pretend to be loosening chains or whatever he thinks is holding him there. Sometimes that’s good enough for him and he stands up and heads for the living room. Sometimes he doesn’t buy it. That’s when I have to go to the other room, grab his leash and hook it to his collar and walk him out of the kitchen.
And then he gets excited because whenever I hook his leash to his collar, that means we’re going for a walk or a ride in the car. He can remember that but he can’t remember that there isn’t actually a jail or dungeon under our kitchen table. When I unhook his leash, he gets so upset that we’re not leaving the house that sometimes he goes back to the table to pout.
Oh, goodness. Raising a dog through all stages of his life sure does make one more sympathetic to people and pets who are aging everywhere.