Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waves of Geese and an Old Dog with New Phase of Life


The first waves of the wild geese gone now, but soon to be replaced by equally exciting new arrivals.
Chance -- an old dog rejoicing in and replicating former memories.
And when it becomes too tiring to walk more, there is the miracle of "modern technology."
 
It seems the first waves of migratory Canada geese have flown through New York City and left just as quickly.
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I have seen close to 1,000 geese pass in and out of the Central Park Reservoir over the past month (though obviously not at the same time). The last group of about 45 geese flew out two nights ago, though they too, left in skeins of about 15 geese, roughly 10 minutes apart from each other.
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Yesterday was however, quiet with no migratory geese observed either in the morning or evening. But I speculate that was simply a momentary break, perhaps dependent on weather factors. (It's raining all along the east coast today.) Surely though, as day turns to night, more waves of geese will be arriving and departing -- and later in the year, the last gaggles will stay through the winter.
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Throughout this time, I have been bringing my "little old man" Pomeranian on most of the excursions to see geese at the Reservoir. Though because dogs and strollers are forbidden on the path, I have to be careful to go either during sparsely used times or park Chance off to the side (near the exits), but close to me in proximity.  
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Chance is a very good boy. He doesn't mind sitting quietly in his stroller while I snap photos and alternate attentions between him and what's going on in the skies and on the water. The latter is something he became well used to over the years.
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Sadly, it is something I thought Chance and I would never have opportunity for again. At 20 years of age, Chance can no longer do the long hikes in Central Park. Over the past year, it seemed a four or five block walk along neighborhood streets was the most Chance could muster as his legs have lost much of their former strength and vitality.
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Efforts to take Chance on longer walks seemed akin to forcing an 85 or 90-year-old person to do long hikes. It was hard to know what was important to do to keep Chance healthy and thriving and what was simply cruel.
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But, a couple of weeks ago, I purchased a doggie stroller from Amazon and as previously noted, it is a literal God-send.
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Chance loves his pretty blue stroller and it enable us to again spend time in the park together. Just as importantly, it seems to rekindle memories in Chance of what his former life and routine were.
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I take him along familiar paths -- places especially along the East Park Drive where I used to walk him and Tina every night years ago.
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Sadly, we lost Tina last year when at the age of 21, all of her body systems began to fail and my daughter and I eventually had her euthanized at the Animal Medical Center.
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Since then, it's just been Chance and me. But in recent months, I began to witness his seemingly rapid decline as was experienced with Tina over the last year of her life.
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Good nutrition and supplements help, but they cannot replace memories and experiences seemingly lost forever.
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But, a simple thing like a doggie stroller does reinvent the experiences and rekindles the memories.
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It has been encouraging and surprising to note Chance's sudden interest and alertness in what's around him and it's been nearly miraculous to note his newly found enthusiasm to walk, not just a couple of blocks, but close to a half a mile in the park!
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It's amazing how the old legs can still move when there is pleasant remembrance and positive association to spur them on!
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My only regret now is that the idea of a doggie stroller had not come to me when Tina was still alive. True, she was a heavier dog than Chance and hated being picked up, but I think, like him, she would have loved the rides and it might have served as spark to enjoy life in a new and positive way and perhaps even live a little longer.
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Only we should probably never fret about the "might have beens" and choose instead to be grateful for what actually is.
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I am very grateful for the availability of doggie strollers for those of us going through the pangs of watching our dogs grow older and not be physically able to do what once was so easy for them.
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Like humans, dogs can grow depressed and in some cases, perhaps even lose their will to continue living.
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Anything that can ease that sense of loss and help to rejuvenate spark and memory is indeed, a welcomed gift.
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Realistically, I know that at 7 years past the normal life span of a Pomeranian, Chance probably doesn't have a whole lot of "time" left.  20 years is very old for any dog.
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But, it is good to know that the fading days of his life can still contain many of the joys and experiences of his younger days. Chance many not be able to walk 3 miles anymore. But between enjoying the views from his stroller, getting out to walk for a spell and meeting new doggie friends in the park, life is pretty damn good.
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And just as the first waves of migratory geese are gone now, but soon to be replaced by the new and just as exciting later arrivals, life for humans and dogs also occurs in waves and phases, with no part being less important or enriching than the previous. -- PCA
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