2020 was a tough year for most, but for me, it was a year of change. Early on, Mike and Heather left me with Schatzi for a week, and then we were supposed to be off on the road again, heading eastward to Syracuse. But when they got back to Seattle, things had changed. Since then we rarely went anywhere but Discovery Park, and Mike and Heather wore these scary face masks every second we were outside. It was much harder for dogs to socialize, too, because nobody wanted to get too close. We didn’t go to visit anybody, and nobody yisited our house, either, except for a couple of summer football games and briefly when Schatzi’s mom Caroline and the kids who live next door came over briefly. Pretty boring overall.
This cloistered existence was only the beginning of change for me. I knew Mike’s leg pain was really killing him, because he always walked far behind Heather and me in the afternoon and often woke me at night with his moans and groans. I guess I didn’t know how bad it was, however,, because early one morning Mike went away for a few days in a hospital. When he came back, I wasn’t allowed to jump on him and he stayed in bed a lot.
All this changed my life even more. When Mike returned home, he still had a lot of healing to do, so Heather permanently took over all my feeding, grooming, tooth-brushing, walking, throwing and vet visits. Mike continued to walk with us every afternoon, but he walked very slowly and for not as long, and he used a cane. As weeks went on, he could walk longer and farther, but the speed of his walking was taking longer to return. By the end of our walks, he’s moving slowly, but his overall pace is still improving.
Not surprisingly, the three of us adjusted. All those care tasks still get done, although Heather has her own way of doing them. And in most cases, her way is better than Mike’s way, at least as far as I’m concerned. I know she takes my daily ritual of tooth-brushing and grooming before dinner a lot more seriously than Mike ever did. That’s because Heather would never let herself do “C” work on anything; Mike was dedicated, but ultimately more lenient with me. So I put up with Heather’s diligence on my mouth and coat because I know I’m getting a lot more cheese and kibble out of her than I ever got from Mike. And there’s more good news: Earlier this week I tipped the scale at my vet at a svelte 20.5 pounds (down from 21.1 six weeks ago), so Heather’s extra rations can continue unabated. It’s like an unexpected stimulus check.
As the calendar turned to 2021, Heather, Mike and I were walking about an hour a day around Discovery Park, mostly on paved walkways that pass one or more of my favorite fetch locations, where we linger and throw if passersby are infrequent. Mike’s leg doesn’t hurt him anymore, and he recently ditched his cane. But when he starts to get tired toward the end, he still walks quite a ways behind Heather and me. Maybe in 2021 he can catch up and walk with us, which would mean he’s feeling that much better. That will be be fine by me, as long as Heather stays in charge and the cheese sticks keep on coming.