When looking for a place to camp, we always look to see what the hiking trails are like. If there is an extensive set of trails with some points of interest like waterfalls, shorelines or vistas, we are in! Tettegouche definitely hits the mark on those points. By late Monday morning, we decided to ignore the cold and rain and get out on the trails.
We know Tchazo is limited in strength these days, so we choose what we thought would be a doable route up to High Falls and back with a detour to Two Step Falls on the way back down.
The hike was beautiful.
At High Falls, there is a suspension bridge that you need to go over to continue on the trail. The grates were large enough that Tchazo would not be able to navigate them safely, so Paul and I took turns on it to see the view. Since we were not crossing over, it was fine for Tchazo to wait on the side. Man! He did not like us being out on the bridge. When Tchazo saw that bridge he stopped short in his tracks, recognizing that it wasn't safe for him. When we went out on it, he barked at us as if to say, "No! No! Come back! That is a dangerous place!" He didn't stop until we were all back on the side with him.
|photo by Paul|
We were watching Tchazo along the way, looking for clues that he was getting fatigued, but he stayed out in front of us through the whole hike. At one point, he swooped his head down to the side of the trail and came up with this bone! We let him carry it for about 20 minutes until he finally dropped it. While he had it in his mouth, he was a dog with a mission!
After we got back from the hike, we fed Tchazo and gave him his medicine (he is on steroids for ataxia). He then settled into the tent and slept for a long, long time. Paul said he could feel him shivering in the night, so he covered him up to get him warmer. When we got up in the morning, he was so sore, shaky and weak that he couldn't stand up without help from us. We felt terrible. In our 11 years with him, we have never once seen him refuse food, but that morning he did. He only ate about 2/3 of his breakfast. We let him go back to sleep for a few more hours in the tent.
|photo by Paul|
After that, he was less shaky and was able to finish his breakfast. We knew we had pushed him too far. It was a sad thing for us to see our dog who loves hiking so much to experience the consequences of his new limitations. We now know that he won't tell us when we are taking him past his limits. We learned the hard way that we need to set those limits for him. He was in such a sorry state, that we wanted to do what we could to give him some comfort, so we decided to pack up and head home. On the way home, we checked in with our vet to find out if there was anything we could give him that would bring some relief. Unfortunately, with the steroids, he can't take any fast acting pain medicine, so he had to tough it out. We gave him a cold bath when we got home to help reduce the swelling in his joints.
With some rest and very limited activity, he recovered by the next day and was begging for a walk. He has a spirit that is still so full of life! We will be sure to keep giving him walks around the neighborhood and the occasional short visit to the dog park, but we have decided his days of hiking to waterfalls are over. Paul and I are excited for future camping trips, but know we'll be doing our next few without a dog.
Having just gone through the loss of Jack and the scare with Fanny, we are no strangers to ailing pets. The silver lining is that the medicine Tchazo is on has dramatically increased his quality of life and given him (and us) the opportunity to have many experiences in the past year and a half since his symptoms started. Even though he paid the price afterwards, we are guessing if he could talk, he would have told us the hike was worth it!