Terii’s Cycling Babble

Question of Life’s Quality
May 8, 2014, 7:15 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Quality of life can be quite a tricky question. Weighing very different issues against each other, like apples and oranges, and trying to discern which is better or, at least, the lesser of evils. Or in some cases, which is the greater good in difficult situations.

That is something I’ve been juggling for the past few months with Loke.

Cycling with him has been rare, which leads to my cycling being scant. His arthritis toys with me. There have been a few rides where he goes smoothly along, ticking like a perfectly balanced machine and not the least indication of problem in hip or knee. I feel almost giddy with those though I still coddle him, hoping to nurture that lack of difficulty. Then, without rhyme or reason, he goes out with his hind end hopping here and there or limping along with a stiff leg as if he’s a doggie version of a peg-leg pirate.

The hopping/limping episodes are brief, but it still distresses me. However, as the year winds on, I find myself torn. Loke pines for the outings in the long days between them even as he’s incredibly bored with River Loops. After long walks, he comes home and paces around, harassing us with bossy woofing. Kibble balls and other such mental challenges are only brief distractions. Doing the River Loop with him might as well be nothing, the way he paces around and bugs me as soon as he had a drink of water. Clearly, he’s desperate to go out and move and do more. It’s a conflict between the strength/stamina of muscle/cardiovascular which seems to still be that of a highly fit 4 year old who used to be able to run 35 miles, sleep for 2 hours before wanting to go again, and the weakness of his nearly 9 year old joints. Even if Jens had the time or if I had the ability to do 10 mile walks, I doubt it would be enough to settle him.

Also, the vet encourages anything that develops extra muscle to support and stabilize the joints. Walks don’t do anything noticeable.

So the question is weighed between letting Loke slowly go nuts until he becomes a destructive ‘problem’ dog or take him out with the trike for more than the River Loop at least once a week.

I’m leaning more and more toward taking him out.

Tuesday, that’s what I did.

Jens had to catch a 6 am train, so all of Loke’s outings fell to me. Of late, I was focusing on two walks a day, one about .75 mile and another somewhere around 2.5 miles. Added to that was Jens’ daily walks between 2 – 4 miles. So, in general, a minimum of 4 miles or a max of 7-ish a day.

I had to try for that minimum at least. After running around Stockholm like a mad woman for 3 days with a friend from the US, I was feeling too beaten and battered to do more than shuffle for .5 mile. It had to be the trike though I had my doubts about being able to do more than the River Loop.

I picked up the harness for our first trike outing of May and Loke perked up. He hurried over to hop up a few times, trying to put his head through the loops as I untangled them. He paced around as I finished dressing.

It was a slowly deteriorating day. The morning had been glorious, but cold enough for frost. Around lunch it was closer to about 60 F, but clouding. All through May the wind has been chill and persistently from the north, so it was a tiny bit too cool. Almost made me put on a layer of wool under my top, but I decided against it. Ironically, the May nights have been colder than 80% of the nights last December.

Loke Happy At 'Work'

Loke Happy At ‘Work’

I didn’t mind the thickening clouds. The sun’s quite warm regardless of what the wind feels like, so cloud shadow is kinder for the fuzzy one.

One change as we set out. I didn’t let Loke run. A brisk jog was as fast as I let the trike go. He tried bolt off at the beginning, but settled surprisingly quick. We cruised through the neighborhood at about 7.5 mph. I kept a close eye on him, but he went smoothly enough.

Around mile 1.4, he had a slight hopping episode. I think I’ve noticed they come most often after he’s gone potty. Something about the crouching and only with the trike. I slowed down until he was just walking, waiting to see what would happen. After a few steps, it went away. After about 50 yards/meters, he gave me a side-long look and pulled until we were cruising along at about 7 mph again.

So, that’s how we did the River Loop section.

When we passed by the left turn which takes us along the actual path along the river, Loke noticeably perked up. He wanted to pull faster (8+ mph) though I resisted, giving in only to 7.5. With his head raised, he carried his tail high, every inch of a happy, interested husky. The plan was to head to the city forest. That turned into something of a failure. I’d planned to come out across from the forest by way of small residential streets, but instead, I emerged along a busier street which would have been an out and back to the forest. The ‘to’ also involved a long grinding climb. Rather than chew my way up that hill with a boring double back, I simply turned left to glide down toward Uppsala center. I was around 6 miles at that point anyway and didn’t want to kill Loke with a 15 miler or the like. I was aiming for 8-10 since he had so much energy left after the few rides we’ve done around 7 miles.

For me, it was an easy glide down toward the bandi court by the river. Where I normally would have followed the street with the cycle lane beside the river channel, I turned toward the vehicular traffic-less area of the city. It was a little challenging, winding out way through pedestrians, but soon we came out near ‘Burgers and Beers’.

It’s a fairly new restaurant which, as the name suggests, serves hamburgers and beer. Huge, tasty hamburgers I might add. There are also some desserts, sodas and the like. Jens has been intrigued by it since he spotted it some months ago. We finally went a couple weeks ago. It turns out that the one who runs it is American. Really nice guy we chatted with. The subject of the poor winter somehow led to me mentioning how much I’d been looking forward to riding through the snowy season. He asked wasn’t I worried abut falling over on ice. Of course not since I had a recumbent trike. He brightened, saying, “That’s you? I’ve seen you a couple times. That is so neat! I keep saying I would love something like that every time I saw it!” I offered to go by one day so he could have a closer look. He seemed quite interested in that idea.

So, I’d planned to stop by, but everything was so busy. The street it’s on isn’t entirely closed to traffic, there wasn’t anywhere to conveniently park the trike and Loke. Also the restaurant looked pretty busy. I saw the man through the window and waved though, getting a cheerful wave back.

I toodled onward, Loke still showing no sign of flagging. He even looked irritated at all the stops and slow-downs. We had one more stop I wanted to make though. I hadn’t seen Charles in almost 2 weeks. He runs the American food store that opened last summer. Sometimes, I shop there on Monday, which is his one single day off a week. So, I figured I’d coast by and wave at least since we’d not seen each other in over 2 weeks.

He came out to say hello and then hurried down to his cafe a few doors down. He brought out a nice, big bowl of fresh, cool water for Loke. After a brief chat, he had customers so I rolled on.

We arrived home with almost exactly 10 miles. Loke ambled up the steps into the apartment with no sign of being tired or painful. He drank heartily, paced around a bit and then, miraculously, laid down for a contented sleep. It was nice that he was so peaceful. He’d open his eyes and watch me if I moved across the room, but no lurching hopefully/desperately to his feet every time I so much as scratched my nose.

He perked up fine when Jens came home and was more than happy to go out for his limp-free walk with Jens. All that made me relax.

So, in spite of 2 episodes of the ‘hip-hop’ and 1 of the peg-legged limp, the 10 miles went flawlessly, if quite slow. Honestly, slow didn’t bother me in the least. I was just happy to be out with my happy husky beside me. So, that maybe our pattern for the year. More frequent outings, at least 2 a week of more than the River Loop, but slower. Probably between 6-7 mph. If Loke improves and goes a month or so without limping, I might let him go a little faster. If this can be maintained, it is definitely better for all of us around and a better quality of life than Loke being completely trike-less. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and play it carefully by ear.

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