There are so many people now out walking at “our” slough that it’s kind of no fun, especially if Dusty is along. He has to bark at other dogs (which he’d love to play with) and people, especially if he hasn’t met them and he’s on leash. He’s 12. This is not behavior that’s going to change.
A couple of days ago the slough was crowded. We kept going off trail (which I don’t like to do — “off trail” is for animals who have their own trails) so Dusty wouldn’t see people and dogs. I did find a really beautiful game trail with myriad tracks and felt guilty for adding ours. 😦 People can destroy a trail almost as fast as cattle or sheep. Ultimately our trail WOULD intersect with people so I called out to the couple who were just beginning their walk, and were between me and the car, “Do you like dogs?”
I unleashed Dusty who’s super friendly off leash. I said, “He’ll bark, and he’ll charge you, but he’s friendly.” Thank goodness he looks more lab than dobie. He ran barking over to the people who were calm around him and patted him. Then they met Bear. And me. I ended up saying, “Thank you.”
“Oh, being nice to Dusty. It’s hard having to hide him all the time.” The people looked at me like, “Why would you do that?” But I’ve seen Dusty scare people.
Today we got there and we were alone. We hit the little trail (a 1 mile loop) and I hauled ass. I walked that thing in 15 minutes. For the past couple of years, it’s been taking me 34 minutes to walk a mile. The cortisone shot continues to perform its magic. As we were leaving, I saw a young woman with two dogs, both of which we “know.” A golden retriever and an elderly bassett whom we’ve “dog sat” when his male human took off and left him in the shade of the cottonwoods one summer afternoon. We ducked off the main trail and went to the car, Dusty barking madly in recognition but which sounded like blood lust.
As we reached the car, the other people were arriving. The people we met the other day pulled in and, seeing me, waved.
I doubt I will ever completely get used to life here. Honestly, in my California life, that would probably never have happened. The people would probably not have been happy to meet Dusty or to see me a second time.
But the big(ish) news is that the ONLY thing holding me back has been my hip. I am now convinced that it hasn’t been right for a long time, it’s just that last fall it started demanding attention through pain. I’ve walked awkwardly for a while. My walk today showed me that all the work and “training” I’ve done has actually made a pretty strong and fit little old lady, and I HAVE made progress. A 15 minute walking mile is decent, and I’m very happy with it. Sure, it’s not 6 mph (the average speed of my former self) but I’m not running even the slightest bit. For me, walking was always a form of transportation, but 2 miles an hour? That’s just grueling. If you add pain to it, it’s Sisyphean, truly. I did it (and would continue doing it) but it was really as if I were pushing a giant rock (my body) up a mountain through the force of my will and imperfect abilities.
I will begin physical therapy next week and sometime later, in April, I’ll set the date for surgery. I was dreading it, fearful of it, but now I understand all that dread was related to the experiences I had last time AND the demoralization of a couple years of diminishing abilities and increasing pain. We humans are complex little things and can be as inscrutable to ourselves as we are to others.