January 13, 2009

Super-size? No, thanks

This has stuck in my mind: something I read years ago about a hiker running down a wilderness trail, distraught, calling for help because his dog was hurt. Not just hurt, either, but badly hurt, unable to walk and too heavy to carry -- and left alone on the mountain while the hiker went to seek assistance. That article scared the bejeezus out of me. The older I get, the more hesitant I am about taking responsibility for a dog I can't pick up and carry in case of emergency.

I learned the hard way, decades ago, that an ill or injured dog can be an absolute bear to lift. After my Airedale suffered a seizure, I couldn't pick her up to save my life. I was a good deal stronger then than I am now, and at 50 lb she was usually easy for me to lift. But a frightened, flailing animal with no sense of balance is worse than dead weight, and there was no one I could call for help. Getting her downstairs and into the car was a nightmare.

My good boy weighed a solid 55 lb, which isn't the same as a pallet of cinder blocks but is still pretty heavy. As his health declined, my biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to lift him into the back seat of the truck if he took a sudden turn for the worse. I've made a new rule for myself: no dogs over 35 lb or so from now on. We'll see if it sticks.

The photo above [click for big] was taken up at the cabin: he was maybe ten months old and working on his Lion King face. The house is very empty and still without him.


Bill Fosher said...

Or, you could start working out and not rule out more than half the Border collies in the world :<)

Luisa said...

But it's the half made up of drop-eared, rough-coated, moose-like male border collies! Further evidence that upper-body strength is terribly overrated, if you ask me.

sp said...

we had to take the fire escape 5 flights out of my building recently...my 50lb pit was petrified, and had to be carried all stiff-legged and shaking, by the much larger of the humans (not me). the first four flights of stairs were manageable, but to get to the ground floor we had to use a straight ladder. there was no way we could carry her down those rungs. it was damn near tragic until we found out the screaming fire alarms had been triggered by steam, and not smoke (and fire).

my poor dog had been at high risk of being tied up into some sort of make-shift pulley system. and it really doesn't look too