One of my dogs died a year ago, in November of 2013. In the months before he died, he couldn’t walk well, and couldn’t climb steps. He didn’t have the coordination with his back legs to bring them forward, and he walked with them curled under on his toes. His walk would be a drunken shuffle, with his head down and swaggering a bit. In this way he would wander off, inspecting the closest things to his nose and hunting down water holes. He was incontinent, and if he did happen to be outside when he had to go, he would just let it go as he was walking since he couldn’t squat.
A couple of times he wandered off for the entire day, and I spent those days running around the neighborhood and the hiking trails calling for him. I’d pray “Please God, let me see my dog just one more time, that’s all I ask. I just want to see him and see that he’s ok. I don’t want my poor dog lying someplace, suffering, and freezing to death. Please please, just let me see him one more time.” At about 5:30, when it was starting to get dark, he would wander into the yard as though nothing special had happened.
I stopped letting him run free after the second incident. I always kept him on leash so I knew where he was. He stopped having the privilege of lying leashless around in the yard where he could point his nose to the air, smiling, looking around at the world peacefully.
I keep my second dog close to me. When he’s off leash, he’s always within eyesight of me. He’s less independent anyway, so he’s unlikely to wander far. Hubby lets him wander the neighborhood after their hikes, and he comes right back home after sniffing around a bit.
So why do I tell this story? Because two dogs in the hand is much much better than one in the bush, trust me.