Terii’s Cycling Babble

Approaching the End of an Age
April 10, 2018, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

So, as I’ve stated before in the recent posts, Loke’s having issues.

With said issues, I spoke with a vet again about what might help the fuzzy stay comfortable and sane. She suggested the series of shots again, that might ease some of Loke’s joint pain. I agreed and so, he’ll be getting the 3rd of the 4 weekly shots tomorrow.

Between shots 1 and 2, Loke’s ‘wobble’ issue had gotten a bit worse, so when we went in for shot 2, I spoke to the vet about it. She gently looked Loke over and came to the conclusion that there’s some kind of back issue. He’s lost some reflexes in his back legs and occasionally didn’t notice when she’d ‘knuckled’ his foot over, both indicating some loss of nerve response. The problem is, she’s not sure if it’s an injury or degeneration from age.

Injury is completely possible as he was acting like a 3 year old for those couple weeks before the testosterone levels started going down after the chemical castration, but also a chance it might be degeneration and injury. There’s no real way to be certain except for like CAT scan or MRI. That would perhaps give us answers as to exactly what was happening, but unlikely to change the prognosis or outcome. So, it would mean sedating Loke for no change in what we do.

She said that if he were a younger dog, she would recommend strict rest for a month. Honestly though, she didn’t think it would improve things at his age, only serve to make him (and us) miserable. So, she advised limiting his jumping and stairs, but otherwise, let him do what he wants. If he seems to want long walkies, go for it. If he wants to go out with the trike, do it, though maybe don’t let him run. Stick to walking and jogging.

She also found that his front ‘ankles’ are in quite a bit of discomfort. She came to that conclusion when she wanted to look at one of his front paws. He stubbornly resisted her efforts to lift a foot though once she had it up, he didn’t really care what she did with the toes, only objecting when she flexed the ankle. It was mostly that he really didn’t want to put extra weight on one foot. I’ve known his ankles have been sensitive for a few years now because he couldn’t walk with the socks on, but now I know they’re quite a bit worse.

Hopefully though, the series of shots will help both problems.

Since the 2nd shot, Loke has had some good days and others that dipped into the realm of ‘bad’. He’s gotten even slower. Yesterday, after coming back from his morning walkies with Jens, my husband actually said he didn’t think that I should take Loke when I went to the cycle shop because he had struggled so much. That completely floored me. I’ve always thought Jens would be encouraging me to take Loke out with the trike as long as he was with us.

Tomorrow, we go to the vet for the 3rd shot, but I’m going to talk to her about how he’s been heading downhill even with the treatment. He’s had more incidents of his back legs just buckling. He limps most of the time when we’re out and his shoulders are bothering him more. An additional burden of worry is the tumor.

Initially, the size of the tumor went down about the time that Loke’s hyperactive behavior slacked off. The wound even closed up. The past 3-4 days though, that’s reversed. The tumor has grown to almost its biggest size and the sore has not only reopened, but is larger than ever. So, going to have to try and figure out what to do about that.

Any way…

Between March 25th and April 3rd, my rides were non-existent. Yes, part of it was the way age is slamming into my husky with the weight and speed of an avalanche. But I could have endured the hyper slow rides if I didn’t have to play revolving layers with the weather.

It was such pretty weather. Clear blue skies, but in the mornings it was 24 F and about 1 pm, it was 55 F. I wanted to ride, but for staying out all day, it was just too much to deal with. Dress for 24 F and die of heat stroke before noon. Dress for 55 F and be found frozen along the side of the road before noon. The torso layers are no problem to deal with, but legs. That’s the sticking point. I’m not going to put on a show by kicking off my shoes and dancing around on gravel covered pavement to wrestle off layers of thermal tights. No, just not going to happen. At least, not until I’m smaller and more agile.

On April 3rd though, it finally came together that it was warm fairly early that I wasn’t going to be dealing with Arctic temps at 9 am and tropics at 11 am. I could pull on modest layers and be able to endure them through the ride. Not to mention, it would also help Jens with Loke and my feet.

For about a week, I just had the worst time with the soles of my feet feeling down right bruised. Reluctant to ride with Loke, but could barely walk. So, I was glad when, at least the weather wasn’t conspiring against me.

At the time of the ride, though Loke was struggling with some things, as long as he was going in a straight line, he was fairly okay. Sharper turns are when he’d sorta trip over his own feet or have a leg crumple.

He was definitely interested as I dressed and held up his harness. We started out at about 3.8 mph thanks to the Svartbäcken cycle path being mostly gravel free. Sadly, the back cycle paths were quite gravel choked so our speed dropped to about 2 mph and slower in some stretches. Even with little rocks making Loke’s feet unhappy, he was still clearly enjoying the outing.

I was fairly bored with it to be honest. Not even vigorous enough to offer exercise and already like the 18th (of 20 rides) River Loops of the year. I amused myself by scanning for sprouting flowers. Alas, no joy.

We were passing then swim hall, when a pair of women waved me down to gush over the trike. One of them remarked that they’ve seen me before and wanted to ask questions, but I had been too far away for them to get my attention. It’s highly unusual when someone talking to me doesn’t at least ask or comment even briefly on Loke, but he might as well have not been there to that pair. I answered their questions and we parted ways with smiles and waves.

As I pushed on, I decided that since Loke wasn’t acting too bad given the circumstances, I’d pedal on to the grocery store a couple hundred yards past our apartment to pick up something for lunch. Loke, as ever, waited outside like a good boy as I dashed in and then we did a slow, creeping coast back down to the apartment.

Not an exciting ride, but at least it was pretty with blue skies instead of the forecasted overcast we were supposed to have.

Over the 4th and 5th, the weather did a dramatic shift from mid-20’s in the mornings with 55 F highs and gloriously clear skies, to above freezing even at night though still in the mid-50’s during the day. The other change was gray skies and rain. The first rain we’ve had in a long while. Combined with a pokey, elderly husky, I just stayed in.

On April 6th, it was snowing of all things when I woke up. Paved surfaces stayed clear with the white stuff only gathering on grass, dirt, and cars. About lunch time, the white falling flakes disappeared in favor of rain.

I would have loved to just stay in, but Jens worked from home and was pushy about ‘Walk Loke, walk Loke, walk Loke.’ Still dealing with my feet, I decided to spare them with a slow crawl with the trike.

Naturally, as I started dressing, it was beautifully sunny out. Once Loke and I stepped out the door to go to the trike, the clouds ambushed us as did the wind and a sharp drop in temperatures. 38 F. Brr. Even better 200 yards into the ride, spitting rain came slinging in on the wind gusts. I started shivering immediately.

Inclement weather or no, Loke was quite happy to be out. Not happy enough to be faster than 3 mph, but still happy.

The rain didn’t last long, but the damage was done. It had rained enough to get through my thermal layers and the addition of the wind with the end of daylight temp drop was too much. I still managed to push on for a total of 2.45 miles. Oddly, Loke’s pace picked up for the last three-quarters of a mile or so. We cruised at almost 6 mph to get back to the garage. Pity he doesn’t do that more often.

Once we were back at the apartment, Loke was predictably a crazed, bouncing, 3 year old husky.

I didn’t ride again until April 9th. The weather was above freezing and still raining on occasion. The wind couldn’t make up its mind if it wanted to blast around or just stand there.

I had to push out the door any way though for an appointment to get the tires and pedals swapped to my summer arrangement. Yay! SPD shoes and pedals again! Not to mention sleek tires free of chunky tread and studs.

The shop didn’t open until 9 am, so Jens took Loke for a morning walkie. Upon his return, he told me that he thought I should leave Loke at home when I rode to the shop because the furball was really struggling during the walk.

I about had a heart-attack. Jens, suggesting I leave the husky home. Never thought that would happen.

About 5 minutes before we were going to leave for Jens to drop me off at the storage, I went out with the garbage. No rain. As we walked to the car to drive to the trike, it was sprinkling and I saw a single snow flake.

Arriving at the storage, it was a full on rain. The good news was, with Loke staying home, at least I could roll a little faster.

I took one of the most direct ways I could to the cycle shop. Just 1.2 mile and it took me less than 15 minutes. I arrived at the shop early as I’d hoped to take a longer route there with a chance to get some exercise finally. Probably should have done that any way since all I did with my early arrival was sit, trying to squeeze up under my Da Brim as the rain fell.

I was so happy when ‘The Beard’ (yes, that’s what he’s called) arrived and kindly let us stand in the shop as he shuffled all the bikes out. Brr.

Trike checked in, I dashed off with the car directly to Starbucks and the desperately needed hot chocolate with hazelnut flavor. Oh, and there wasn’t a hint of a single raindrop as I left the cycle shop.

The text that my trike was done came a couple hours later. By then, Loke had a bit more spring in his step, so I decided that he’d go with me and the trike from the shop back to storage.

There was no rain as we rolled out from the shop, my trike now sporting summer tires and SPD pedals once again. While VERY slow (1.5 – 2.1 mph), Loke was interested in the outing. His head was up with a busy nose and ears and quick gaze noting the flitting of birds in a breeding frenzy of spring.

There were some issues. He would give a halting step at times and others, his back end would wobble. He was still happy. His favourite place in the world is beside the trike and moving.

I didn’t wan to push him too much though, so I kept it short. 1.7 miles. Took a smidge longer than an hour.

It truly breaks my heart, this sudden decline. Back in January, I would have said my husky was unstoppable. Now, I’m bracing for the end as we keep him happy with a decent quality of life for however long we can.

It’s been a good run and so much more than I ever could have imagined when I brought home an 11 pound, white and grey fluff-ball with a pink nose. I’m grateful for the years we’ve had and especially the last 5. When he was 8 years old, I didn’t think we’d be able to keep him going to 10. He was strong and fast, but so many issues. I used to joke he was the fittest, strongest, fastest, sick dog in all of Sweden. When he was 10, I just hoped we could keep him going strong to 12 years old which would make it the minimum average life span of a husky (12-14 years). He blasted through his 12th birthday like he was going to go forever.

I just want him happy for however long we will still have him. Even if it means my rides with him are at 1 mph. He still loves to move beside HIS trike.

So, tomorrow, April 11th, the plan is to put the trike in the car and drive to Haga Park which is where the butterfly ‘zoo’ is. There are a few miles of nicely groomed gravel paths bordered with soft, trimmed grass which should be easy on old feet. I’ll have food packed for us both and water of course. We’ll just poke around and see if there’s any paths we’ve not found yet that a trike and elderly husky can go. Somewhere we’ve never cycled before though we’ve walked a few miles of paths several times.

Hopefully, we can make a day of it, even if we only do 5 miles for the entire time. As long as it makes him happy.

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