When we were looking for our house, we were in no hurry to move. It was a want, not a need, so we made a list of house wishes that were super specific. One of those wishes was a swimming pool. Our fabulous real estate agent pointed out that there were many neighborhoods that had a pool within walking distance. “No,” we said. “It’s not for us. It’s for our dogs.”
We knew she was the agent for us when she smiled and said, “Totally get it. I’m an animal lover, too!”
So, we found our house with a pool.
The goal for this summer was to get Emmett swimming! He’s about to turn 13 (next week!!), and he’s dealing with something a lot of seniors deal with: loss of muscle mass. That, combined with some shaking in his legs and a droopy old man belly, walking has become increasingly difficult for him. With the heat this summer, it’s been even worse. But, it won’t keep him healthy to skip exercise, so swimming seemed like the perfect fit.
Note I said seemed.
Emmett knows how to swim. He’s been swimming in the Chesapeake Bay and at the indoor swimming pool at his old doggy daycare. He’s been swimming in my aunt’s outdoor pool, and he’s paddled around in various blow-up and kiddie pools.
Emmett appears to have decided that swimming is just too much work. It’s too tiring. He just doesn’t wanna.
We’ll take him outside. He trots along next to us. We open the gate to the pool, and he belly flops… Right into the grass just outside the gate, back to the pool. He turns his head and averts his eyes. “If I don’t look at them, they can’t see me!”
We have, on occasion, put him in the pool. He paddled along, straight to the steps, and right out. Then he shakes off and stands in front of the gate, asking to be let back into the yard. Or, John’s held onto him so that he couldn’t immediately depart but got a short workout in with a few paddles, but again, the second John let go, straight to the steps, out, shake, gate.
So, what do we do?
He can swim. It’s good for him. It’s a way to build strength and endurance without putting more strain on his already weak, trembling legs. It’s not like he has to even spend hours paddling around. A few laps a day would do the trick.
But, he just doesn’t want to.
So, do we force him for his own good, strength-wise, but make him unhappy? Or do we stick with short walks to the end of the block and back, at which point his legs are shaking so badly that he can barely lift one to pee?
I love my old dog with my entire being. He is my light, my angel, my love. But, man, it’s a lot of stress figuring out what’s right…
Cooper, by the way, is a whole other story (of course) that deserves its own post because he’s just flipping hilarious and adorable. More on that to come.
In the meantime, what would you do? If you love a senior, what decisions have caused you angst? Or if you have a pool, how does your dog feel about swimming?