My Old Dog Fell Down the Steps But He Got Up

The Prompt:  Share a time when you narrowly avoided disaster.

So I’ve shared the story of the great tire blowout on the PA Turnpike which qualifies for this prompt. I’m going to instead tell you a pet story that ties in with a previous entry about dog’s lapping water (oh, the noise!)

Two of our dogs, Amadeus (Deus) and Alexander (Xander) turned 12 last week. I’ve had them since they were 8 weeks old – they were rescued from a person in West Virginia who was feeding the litter of puppies dry cat food covered in whole milk. ??? Deus was the runt – a few pounds and had to receive fluids a few times during those early days. The other dogs shunned him a bit, but he kept trying. When the other 5 pups in the litter went on to their new home, I kept Deus and decided to keep Xander to keep him company.

Ana (l) Xander (rear) and Amadeus (front) in November.
Ana (l) Xander (rear) and Amadeus (front) in November.

That first night without his siblings, Deus sat in the corner and howled piteously. My older dog Mona licked him to comfort him (or shut him up) and he eventually settled down. Deus grew up very bonded with Xander – they have never been apart. Unfortunately, he had a problem with his shoulder that caused a slight limp so he never learned to climb stairs – he bunny hops.The problem was corrected with surgery but he continued to hop.

As he aged, Deus developed arthritis which we’ve treated with medication. About six months ago, he started hesitating when he had to climb the stairs to the second floor at bedtime. We would encourage him (or bribe him with lunch meat) and up he went.

One evening, I was urging him to go up the steps and he resisted. Laura was in the kitchen and the other dogs had already gone upstairs. Typically, once he got going, he was fine so when he finally started the climb, I looked away for a second.

That’s all it took. His legs gave out on him and he slid backwards, nearly flipping over. I heard him whimper, turned my head and lunged forward, catching him and letting him fall back against my body. Mind you, I’m not so steady on my feet these days so stabilizing 80 lbs of dog on steps against gravity was not easy.

Then I felt hands on my back.

Laura had heard the issue and knew what happened before I told her. She came around the corner and planted herself firmly on the lower step then reached up to steady us both. I was whispering “You’re okay, you’re okay” to Deus while he cried.  Laura was whispering the same thing to me.

We slowly slid Deus down the steps and got him on his feet. He looked at me balefully then walked over to his dog bed and flopped down with a big sigh.

That was the last time he ever tried the steps. His legs just couldn’t do it and he knew it. So we went with Plan B – he sleeps in the living room, gets a special bedtime treat and has his own nightlight.

Fortunately he was not hurt in this incident. Fortunately, I caught him and Laura caught me. Fortunately, he doesn’t cry or whine or express unhappiness which would tear at my heart – after his night-time visit to the backyard, he trots to his bed to see what I’ve put together for him. And in the mornings, he sits on his bed with his tail wagging to greet whomever comes down first (ok, that’s usually Laura.)

When I saw him slide, my heart skipped a beat – no, no, no, not like this. I don’t want my baby dog to be in a heap on the floor with broken bones at 10 PM. Or ever. I know that 12 is elderly for their various lineages so each day is a gift. I worry about which brother will pass first and how that will impact the other (and the little dog.) I worry I’ll have to carry him to the car and not be able to do that. I worry he’ll pass alone and I worry I’ll have to watch him suffer in his final moments. I worry.

But when the moment of crisis happened, I acted and I responded. Like his human, not his fretting mother. And I know that Laura’s hands will be there, too.

Dog Love
Ana snoozes, Laura pets and reads. Win/win.


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