On her last legs, since she was born
Rosy, my golden retriever, is on her last legs. It’s what inspired the “old dog’s ramp” that we erected and installed in the garage. She’s closing in on 14 years of age, 98 in dog. When you’re that old, you expect a few body parts to be cashing in on you. And Rosy is no exception, except she is the exception.
She was born this way. On her “last legs.” At 6 weeks of age I knew something was different about her. The puppy splay in her hips wasn’t going away. When I tried to get her to jog along with me, she wouldn’t. She just sat. She knew her limitations.
I took Rosy to a veterinary specialist who gave us the bad news. She had congenital hip dysplasia. The kind of hips the large dogs develop when they’re old, she was born with. So, as a puppy, she was on her last legs.
Of course, we didn’t tell her, so she didn’t know she was ‘handicapped.’ She just managed. She developed really strong shoulders and paws angled -one in and one out – to correct her balance. Her hips re-aligned and created their own impromptu sockets, not where they “should be” but just where they needed to be. She learned to bounce and to bound, both rear feet together. Her tail became the propeller to keep her in balance as she ran, full speed, in from the fence every morning for breakfast. She did what worked. A sort of life time give and take with the body she had.
She and her husky “brother” negotiated their own set of rules to play. Since he could knock her off her feet at will, they took turns being the one on the ground. We called that game, “come get me.”
Ironically, as the two have grown older the husky has developed arthritic hips, so now the score is evened. They both hobble and wobble. But Rosy has readied herself for this her whole life. Her last legs were the ones she was born with. She was built to last, like a Ford truck. It just doesn’t look that way.
After her spring shave, I can actually see the hips she uses to get herself around and I marvel. Her motion is a thing of awkward but miraculous beauty. How in the world can she do that on hips like those?
Oh, sometimes she loses her footing and plops. She looks up at me as if to say, “What just happened?” And I lift her hind quarters and she goes on about her business.
As I look at Rosy today, I have to admit that even she seems to be in the final stretch. She sleeps more soundly and wags a little less enthusiastically. But her spirit is completely undaunted. The spirit that has squeezed nearly 14 years into those hips and that body. Those ‘last legs’ that have lasted longer than anyone ever would have imagined. And then some.
What of “last legs”? What of “the bodies we were born with”? What if, instead of replacement parts and repairs and surgical enhancements, we knew our bodies as both first and last? And treated them that way? As the sacred gifts they are.
I tear up thinking about the day Rosy will cross the earthly finish line. And I wonder. We talk about heaven as a place where bodies are restored to wholeness. Where our ailing and broken relatives and friends will be healthy and happy and free of pain and suffering. Healed and restored. What of Rosy? What will ‘whole’ look like for her? What will it feel like to her?
She has never whined, whimpered, or complained. Has always volunteered to go for the walk, the car ride or to sit for the cuddle. Slowly, but steadily, she has trudged up the garage steps (and now the ramp) without balking. Literally, she has taken it all in stride. By all accounts she is as happy and free of suffering today as she was when she was born. What will ‘wholly healed’ be?
It might surprise her. The joy that awaits that she never knew was available. And I can say with complete assurance, whatever it is, she deserves it. Every bit of it.
Slow and steady wins the race. A gold medal Golden if ever I’ve seen one.
Posted on April 30, 2013, in Body, Instinct, Life and tagged animals, body, dogs, Ford tough, golden retrievers, handicapped, healing, heaven, hip dysplasia, last legs, veterinary medicine, wholeness. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
This is a perfect essay! I have absolutely nothing to say other than that! ❤
She is an inspiration, that sweet dog. Teaches me something new everyday. Thanks, as always, for reading 🙂