boscoe's leg continued to grow stronger over the rest of the autumn. his hair grew back. we kept doing physical therapy on him, as well as the prescribed exercises to strengthen his leg--slow figure 8's, 30 in one direction, 30 in the other, every morning. we did them on the concrete labyrinth over in the park, because it was such a smooth flat surface. (despite what you see in this Google picture, we have never seen anyone on it.)
he still wobbled when he balanced to take a pee--the mended leg sometimes seemed like it might buckle, but it never did, and we began to relax a little. though every time he tried to play with riley, one of us would shout, "no! stop!" afraid he'd blow out the other knee.
he did funny things to compensate. he has never liked stairs, has never been confident on them, even as a young dog. he tends to gather himself at the foot, and then, in a wild burst of courage, scramble up at top speed. unlike riley, who levitates and to whom nothing is an obstacle.
but with the mended leg, boscoe had a little more trouble on the stairs, and one day i saw him stop midway, and then slowly, laboriously turn around. he then proceeded butt-first, backward, up the rest of the way. i laughed so hard the tears rolled down my face.
more difficult was coming to terms with the fact that he could no longer jump up onto our rather high bed. he has always slept with us, and now he came into the bedroom in the evening and paced, trying to gather himself for the leap. he always liked to jump from the side, not the foot. sometimes he jumped and didn't make it and crashed to the floor, stopping our hearts, and sometimes he merely whimpered and one of us would climb out of bed and pick him up (and boscoe would thrash and yell don't pick me up! don't pick me up! but we had no choice since we couldn't lower the bed).
so i got on the web and hunted around for a set of doggie stairs.
even though he didn't like steps, i figured a small set would be ok. they were quite pricey--about $150, with tax and shipping and all. but nothing is too good for my boscoe! i ordered a nice carpeted set in blue. i declined the optional feature that would allow the top step to open on a hinge, allowing for storage, but i probably should have gone for it, because, truth be told, the steps have turned into nothing more than a place for me to drape my clothes.
the steps took a couple of weeks to arrive--a couple of weeks of lifting boscoe onto the bed, or lying there stiffly in the dark, filled with dread, while he paced and jumped.
when they finally arrived i ripped away the carton, hauled them upstairs (they are very heavy), and put them at the end of the bed because there wasn't enough room on the side. our bedroom is tiny, and this meant that we tripped over them and stubbed our toes in the dark for weeks to come.
(but anything for boscoe!)
then i crawled up onto the bed and patted the cover. "come on up, buddy!" i said.
boscoe went around the side and jumped up onto the bed.
"nicely done," i said. "but i wanted you to use the stairs."
for the next few days, i tried to train him. i put a baby gate in the way, so he couldn't come around the side. i put treats on the steps, which, because he is tall, he was able to eat without any effort and without climbing the stairs.
finally one night he used them. ran up the stairs as though he'd been doing it all his life. i think it was just to show us that he could--we cheered. we praised him. we stroked his hair. we gave him fistfuls of kibble.
and he has not used them since.
ever since those damn steps arrived, he has effortlessly leaped onto the bed from the side. no more crashing. no more falling. no more whimpering and thrashing when we lift him up because we no longer have to lift him up.
the steps, as i said, have become a place for me to toss my clothes. sooner or later, we will haul them into the garage or the basement with the rest of our stupid purchases--the body bridge i bought to help with my neck problems (it didn't, and that is quite definitely not me in the photo); the cross country ski machine that we actually did use for several years but haven't in, um, quite a while; the elliptical trainer (do you see a pattern here?) that was going to make me buff. but not yet. i have not enirely given up on the dog steps yet.
every so often, i'll crawl up on to the bed, pat the top step, and say, "boscoe! come!"
and boscoe will give me a quizzical, knowing look. and then he'll trot around to the side of the bed, and jump up. and he'll snuggle next to me, and i will have nothing to say.
38 minutes ago