From the beginning, our biggest concern has been how Max will navigate stairs.
He is so weak in his front legs that walking up and down anything (hills or stairs) is a challenge.
I learned to navigate the stairs in our house as a puppy. Yes, I was afraid of them at first. I sat at the bottom of them an whined while everyone tried to entice me to go up. Eventually with enough treats and encouragement and a fun game of fetch, I could climb those stairs like a pro.
But Max never had that puppy experience (which is one reason why his front legs have no muscles) so when he looks up at those stairs, he groans with the thought of it. This was one reason why we bought him a harness. Instead of pulling at his neck with his collar, Gretchen can give him some great support by hoisting his back up a bit with the harness.
And Max does his best to put one foot in front of the other trying to coordinate the back end with the front.
But the 16 stairs up to the bedroom must only be navigated up once at night and down once in the morning. It’s all the other stairs that provide Max with a daily challenge. We have 4 stairs up to the house so when we go for a walk in the morning, Max must maneuver down and then climb back up. He does pretty well on the down since he’s not too tired yet and his coordination can help me slowly make his way down (with Gretchen’s hand on his harness). But after our walk (which for Max is about 1/2 a block at this point…with lots of sitting down and taking a breather), going back up those four steps takes gladiator efforts.
In the backyard, we have 2 steps down to the deck and then 3 steps off the deck to the lawn. This morning, we all went out for our first break of the day. Gretchen assisted Max down though she doesn’t have to offer too much assistance. In fact, he can handle those first two steps relatively easily.
Max waddles out to do his business (let me tell you, this guy can pee!) finding his favorite spot in the grass to let it go. Once done, Max usually sits at the bottom of the steps and waits for assistance, but today Gretchen turned to check in on me (I don’t need any help) and when she turned back, guess who was walking up those 3 steps? Yep, our man Max!
Not only did he make his way up the 3 stairs, he walked across the deck and walked up the next stairs, into the house, and onto his bed in the kitchen. Yes, he kind of flopped from the exhaustion of it, but that big smile he has let us know how proud he was of himself.
But Max is learning that he’s kind of at boot camp and going up and down the stairs is not a one time deal. Gretchen made him do it again and again and pretty soon he was doing pretty well at it.
Turn around and let’s go back up!
The next phase is to get Max in a wheelchair. We tried today, but we need Auntie Sheila’s help, I think. Max was so patient, but I don’t blame him…that thing was really awkward.
Besides, it’s kind of hard to go up and down stairs wearing that thing!
After his exercise, he gets a meal. Yep, getting weight onto Max to help him build muscles is another goal and we’ll write about that soon. For now, here’s Max enjoying lunch…and yes, I get some nibbles too. I’m helping him learn to walk and he’s teaching me to share.
And of course, after we eat, it’s out for another adventure and then Gretchen goes off to work and Max and I rest up for the next exercise session.
Rubin (and Max…who asked if he could write his own blog one day…you bet!)