Hal, unable to walk long distances himself, removed his motorized scooter from his van. At the bay, 3B had followed alongside him on the few occasions he was able to use it there; we were certain that once he starting moving with the scooter here, she would follow.
“Come. Come on 3B,” I coaxed. “Go with Pappy.” Hal had already made his way ahead of us. He waited while I gently tugged at the back of the bike to get her going. Her front paws began to move. Progress.
Then, she stopped. The idea that she could walk again, that something was giving her impetus to do so, must have seemed strange. She stood there, looking lost, confused, a look saying that she simply didn’t understand what we wanted her to do.
She would stop and start, and then stop and start once more before coming to a complete halt. Hal turned his scooter around, driving right toward us.
“Oh 3B. It’s okay.” We all looked at her, reassuringly. “We’ll try again. Tomorrow,” we added. I’m not sure she knew what had happened here. Hal said she just had to get used to it.
She did. After two additional attempts on the days that followed, 3B kept up with Hal on his scooter, stopping only when they got to the end of the trail. She now realized that with the help of our contraption, she could walk again.
Since those first efforts, we’ve been to the Pond fairly regularly, having discovered 3B’s ability to maintain some normalcy and strength in spite of her condition. Although there are some days where she moves slowly, there are others where she runs like the wind. Those times, I not only wind up in an easy jog to maintain Hal and 3B’s brisker pace, but I find myself huffing and puffing by the end of the trail, a reminder of the poor shape I am in. By the time we reach the soft sand, I am ready for our next bout with the water. Hal and I unlatch the cradle that locks her in place. Hal has donated his monstrous Bubba Keg to 3B which we now bring with us whenever we go, giving her a chance to drink before continuing with water therapy. We had seen a video online showing dogs with her condition using a treadmill under water. Since we walk with her against the current, we look at this as being just as good.
My biggest thrill is when I see that she actually appreciates what we are doing for her, even expresses her own excitement. This happened one morning when, immediately after getting out of the car, she headed straight for the bicycle and tried to mount it herself. Her elation was heartfelt and touching, a moment that I wanted to store in my memory for keeps.
The Pond has become a central part of her life now. It’s a place where, like the osprey, she returns to again and again, knowing full well that this is where she can be herself. On the few occasions that Hal and I have been unable to take her there, we’ve tried to get her outside the house for some exercise with the bike, though to no avail. Although I cannot speak for her, I believe that 3B is ultra cautious because she understands that the dirt road in front of Hal’s house is by no means equal to the packed sand at the Pond. She no longer trusts it. I can’t say as if I blame her. She knows she can trust the Pond, just as the osprey, now protected, know they have a safe place to nest again.
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