How different the outdoors looks when you’re worrying about how it can go wrong.

My life has been a bit of a whirlwind since last year.  I hadn’t written in so long, and then every time I’d try to post something else got in the way.

But life had finally settled down a couple months ago and I was ready to start writing again.  And then, we added something adorable to our family…

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First off, isn’t she the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?  Lets just get that out of the way.  She’s way too adorable for words.

Her name is Rudy, and she’s an English Cream/White Golden Retriever.  She came into our lives by a twist of fate, as it seems the best things always do.  She was born with a congenital deformity on her right leg, so she cannot walk on it and she will need a prosthetic when she’s older.

When we were in the midst of negotiations about whether or not we were going to get her, one of the things that came up was her suitability for our lifestyle.  We hike. We camp. We travel.  And we bring our other dog with us anywhere and everywhere we can.   I was worried that a three legged dog hopping around rocks and rivers and tangled underbrush wasn’t in her best interest.  We spoke with the breeder and the vet, and everyone told us that with a little extra care, Rudy could be a loving addition to our active lifestyle. And so, she was ours.

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I took her for small walks at first to test her strength and endurance.  Thank goodness she barely topped 16 pounds, because she would give up rather quickly sometimes, and there was no coaxing her back home, she’d just lay down. And dragging a dog wearing a bandage down the sidewalk by their leash is frowned upon, so we quickly became masters at identifying when she had just enough gas left in the tank to turn around and make it home.

I didn’t take her for a hike until a few months in.  We’d gotten her a specialized boot to wear to absorb the shock of rocks and sticks and things, and we’d slowly been conditioning her to go on longer walks.

We went to Three Sisters Park near Evergreen, CO.  The hike was relatively easy, and not too far.  Rudy did so well going up the side of the mountain! She kept up with our other dog and when we reached the destination she seemed in great spirits and just as energetic as before. Any reservations I had quickly subsided…that is…until the sun and the excitement started to get the best of her on the way down…

Have you ever carried 25 pounds for over half a mile?  It doesn’t sound hard, until you have to do it. Talk about a workout.

Her first camping trip, she romped and ran and chased and swam for the first 4 hours…until again, the excitement caught up with her and she passed out for the rest of the night.

I’ve never had a special needs dog before.  And I was (and still am) so worried that putting her out in the world would put her at risk of getting hurt.  People would question me when I’d take her places, always seeming to think that they knew what was best for her.  But at the end of the day, a dog holed up in a house isn’t a happy dog.  Yeah you’re dog has a nice comfy couch and is in a very controlled environment where nothing crazy is likely to happen, but the dog isn’t happy.  Exploring, learning, experiencing, and living is what makes them happy.

Sure she’s rolled down some hills, and stubbed her toe, and eaten some things I’d much rather her not have.  She’s jumped into a river only to sink, but she always comes out swimming. Maybe she doesn’t have 4 working legs, but she’s the happiest and friendliest dog I’ve met.  I can carry her down some trails and I can spend the extra care to make sure her bad leg doesn’t get hurt, and it’s all worth it, to know that she’s living the best life I could give her… I would much rather her spend her life close to the birds, then waste it, wishing she had wings.

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2 Comments

  1. I think you’re doing the right thing. You’ll learn how much she can do and act accordingly. And I’m sure she’s super happy. I have a friend with 3 special needs cats and they have their quirks but are so happy to be loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your kind words! I would never have thought I’d have a dog with special needs, it’s a journey that’s for sure!! A good journey, but an interesting one nonetheless! Your friend is a saint for taking in 3, I couldn’t imagine!

    Like

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