Some days are difficult. He struggles to his feet in the morning, rear legs shaking, barely supporting his weight, as he stiffly, slowly makes his way to our pool area. The Carprofen prescribed by his vet alleviates the pain, but not the years. He is nearly thirteen, an advanced age for large dogs and Cheddar, the yellow lab who has lived with us since near birth, feels the passing of time with each rheumatoid step.
Other days are better. He rises with anticipation, looking ahead to meals, daylight, and the comfort of our large yard, where he will spend his time walking, sleeping, and taking in the sun. On his best days he will move with ease and alacrity, taking us back nearly a decade, to a time when youth, passion and curiosity defined his life.
Age affects all, including the inanimate. It has been more than six weeks since we learned that our home, built in 1957, wept hot tears of age. Our hot water pipes had corroded, requiring the re-piping of the entire house. The decision was made to work through the attic and avoid ripping up floors to access the concrete foundation, where the original pipes had been laid.
After some haggling with our insurer, work began. We decided to combine re-piping with the remodeling of our bathrooms, something long overdue. We began with our master bathroom, which can be accessed directly from our pool area, behind our house. We opened the side gate to our yard fence to give workers direct access to the bathroom without affecting other portions of the house. This meant, however, that our dogs’ access to the yard would be limited. They would spend most of their day, while the work was in process, confined to a small area of our covered patio.
Cheddar was miserable. His mornings became more painful and his days less active. He seemed disoriented and lethargic, leading one of the workers to express surprise one morning, when he saw Cheddar emerge from the house. He had been convinced that Cheddar would not make it through the night, so evident was his affliction.
We then made some changes. The side gate remained open to allow workers to come and go with ease, but we placed a small gardening fence across the gap, which allowed Cheddar to again roam the yard.
The change was immediate. The spring was back in his step. He was more focused, more active. He looked ahead to each coming day.
The work on our home continues. It will likely be another month before re-piping and remodeling is completed and we again have two fully functioning bathrooms. My wife and I think back to the days before our home became a construction site and wonder when our lives will return to normalcy.
Cheddar does not mind. He greets workers daily as they enter the yard and spends most of the day observing them from his favorite spot on the lawn. He is visibly happy, contented by the feel of grass against his body, the security of routine and the soothing comfort of the familiar.