You can’t try this at home

Last weekend was a recovery weekend, in several senses.  It can take a long time to fully recover from a marathon.  Ray, one of the PRR coaches, always says that a rule of thumb is that for every mile you run it takes a day of recovery before you are ready to race at full intensity again.  So it can easily take the better part of a month to physically recover from a marathon.  And then there are all the mental issues to work through. . .

So this weekend was designed to be a light one.  The run was only half an hour, just to get the legs moving again.  Turnout at Fletcher’s boat house was small, given the size of the team, and because of the short distance many people had brought their dogs (we took Tina, who was a little fractious at the start of the run but settled down quickly; she’s a good running companion).  Good news: my legs didn’t fall off.

Sunday was designed to be a short bike ride, between 15 and 25 miles.  It felt so good to be back on the bike.  Because the distance was short and because Coach Ed encouraged us all in his pep talk before the ride to simply have fun out there I engaged in all sorts of behavior that I would never have done on an ordinary easy, zone 2 ride: climbing hills in the big chain ring, engaging in flat out sprints away from a light (Sebastian started it). . .all things that I haven’t been able to do all winter while trapped inside on the trainer.  Most normal people have a love/hate relationship with their stationary trainer anyway, but for many of us this winter has pushed that over into all-out hatred.  So I was just happy to be out there doing all the vaguely bikey-type things that you can’t do while chained to a flywheel.

I kinda had the sense that I would pay for all that fun, and I did the next day during my bike commute.  But it was worth it.

Lots of people have been asking after Dylan and expressing their sympathy, so that is a comfort.  He’s definitely beginning to struggle.  Night times are particularly bad for him in terms of breathing for some reason, although he’s starting to wheeze a lot of the time.  No loss of appetite although he eats very slowly now (we normally feed our dogs dry food, but Mary went out and bought him some special canned stuff just because).  Particularly distressing for me was when I tried to play frisbee with him over the weekend.  He lives for the frisbee.  So great is his attachment to it that he won’t even notice if another dog comes into the yard if we’re playing frisbee.  Well, this time he was able to retrieve the frisbee maybe three times and then he just stopped, standing completely still with this strange look on his face, breathing heavily in a way that didn’t involve normal dog-type panting, all of which really freaked me out.  It was as if not only could he not go on playing with the frisbee but he’d completely lost the plot of why he was standing in the middle of the yard in the first place.

What is making this hard is that I feel as if I’m watching little bits and pieces that make him Dylan gradually falling away and disappearing.  We were listening to a program on the radio over the weekend where they were talking about how out of our understandable attachment to our pets we tend to wait too long to ease their suffering when they are declining.  Their condition becomes more about us than about them.  I don’t want that to happen but it is hard to know when to make that decision and it is a terrible one to have to make.  What would Dylan say to us if he could talk?  What is he already trying to say to us?

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2 responses to “You can’t try this at home

  1. That’s sad to hear about Dylan. Like you’ve said before, pups don’t understand that sort of thing and are really just living in the moment to be told they are good dogs and to love you guys. Which is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.

    But man, Dylan not being able to do frisbee just breaks my heart. Let me know if I can help out anyhow.

  2. Mark, sorry for your dogmate circumstances. There is no easy way as I went through this same thing with “Jesse” a few years back. One day, between tennis ball and frisbee, it was just time. What a terrific thing, a pet like that.

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