I think all dog owners know that there will come a day when our four-legged friend starts to slow down. It just really sucks when that day arrives.
Oswald is technically my boyfriend’s dog, and so I’ve actually only lived with him for the past two years. It feels like much longer. During our time together he’s been my walking partner, my sous chef, my drinking buddy, my therapist, my muse, my personal trainer, my conscience, my source of entertainment, my body guard, and my cuddle buddy. He’s pretty much kept me sane over the past two years as I’ve juggled life with a boyfriend that works long hours and his teenage daughter who, although she is pretty awesome, is …well… a teenager! On any given day, he’s usually my favorite being in the house, and although it feels like I spend my time acting as his Butler, he takes care of me too.
However, I’ve noticed over the past couple of months that my favorite companion is starting to slow down. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still always up for supervising the nightly dinner preparations or taking a trip down to the local pub, but it seems Oswald likes to take things at a slower pace these days.
I’m sure the hot New Orleans summer is a contributing factor, but the fact of the matter is that my walking partner just can’t do the long walks that we used to do. We used to cover 4-5 miles easily on a weekend walk, and now even after a 1-2 mile stroll on the levee he’s stiff for the rest of the day. Luckily, my vet gave me a small bottle of Rimadyl so on those days when Oswald is looking extra creaky I am able to give him some relief, but it’s obviously not something I really want to rely on daily.
So, now our walks are a little shorter, and we move a little slower, but everything else is fine. So what’s the big deal?
Guilt. Guilt is the big deal.
If it was just Oswald and I, I likely wouldn’t have any guilt. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be as noticeable that he was slowing down because I would just slow down with him. However, four months ago Rupert arrived. And Rupert is now 6 months old. And he is a hound. And he loves to run. And be outside. And do anything that involves expending energy. So now I have Rupert-induced guilt.
It was fine when Rupert was a small puppy because Oswald’s walks would wear him out and he was chill for the rest of the day. But now Rupert is bigger and his walks need to be longer. Rupert loves going for jogs with me and doesn’t even bat an eye at 4 miles (with a mid-run swim thrown in!!), but it’s out of the question to take Oswald on those expeditions any more.
So now I have the guilt. The guilt of leaving the big dog at home so I can take the puppy for a run. I know Oswald wouldn’t have fun on the run and I know he would be miserable and stiff for the rest of the day, but that reasoning doesn’t do much make to make me feel better when I’m looking at the Oswald sad eyes as I’m leashing up Rupert and leaving my big dog behind. I know it’s for the best, but it still hurts.
So for now, I just try to spoil him other ways. We go for our own solo walks together, and he comes with me for puppy-free visits to the pub. I even let him lie on the bed when he hasn’t had a bath (just kidding Boyfriend, if you’re reading this!).
I know I still have a couple more years with Oswald, it’s just a tough reality check when you realize your buddy can’t do all the things with you that he used to. And I am thankful that I have Rupert to keep me company, but it’s not the same. He just doesn’t have Oswald’s wisdom.