autobiography · companion dogs · disability · dogs · Home · teaching

No wheels for my girl

In these past few months Raga has progressively deteriorated. So now, this is her most common posture. But that does not mean this is the only posture she adopts in the course of the day- there are at least a few others.dsc00257-1

But while the common posture is what she maintains for the better part of the day, she also moves around. When she has to she pulls up her front legs and using them as her support propels her body forward. And she manages that for the entire house- she can pretty much go all around that way.

Only on the stairs and when I take her outside the home, I lift her hind legs with the loop, supporting her hind legs and give her the speed. Then she really gets the fillip to run around unfettered. She actually runs…with me trailing behind balancing! Many a time when I look at her I wonder at the miracle that we are back home to Faridabad and not still living in South Goa. What if I had to still be in that house there , where we all slept on the first floor. What would have happened to my girl there? How could she have climbed up and down?

Yesterday I took this picture of her- she seems calm and relaxed in the garden outside our living room. It is the same location as the picture above, except that what is now in the shade in this picture, is where she sat in the earlier photo above.

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Taken 25th Feb 2017. Now if you look closely on the top left you see Nikki, the labrador lying peacefully.

It feels like a blessing to be here this winter- all my dogs can bask in the sun, and I do not have to worry about the cold all the time, even though they are all senior canines now. The house is FULL of flowers and they all have a lot of things to engage their minds with, including running after the birds & squirrels that come to feed on the bajra seeds that I spread on the grass for them. The home is full of flowers all around- it is spring after all. All our labours of the months bygone have produced colours everywhere. The back lawn has at least seven different varieties growing, the first time so many in this part of the house.

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Back lawn, having six varieties of flowers and lettuce, coriander and spinach growing. Flowers here are petunias, verbena, marigold, salvia, dogflowers, suneneria and the ones on the creeper whose name is always a mystery. Of course the grass here is a mess, due to reduced sunlight.

Petunias are also growing very profusely now in the front lawn- at least five or six varieties of it.

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Pic around 20th Feb 2017

I have never paid too much heed to the petunia plant. But in this picture here, where one can see Raga propping herself up and Ginger being medicated by Andre, while Dash is sitting further up, on the floor…the blossoms are very colourful. It feels great to wake up every day and see the colours around.

The first thing I inadvertently see is the back lawn, as it is right outside my bedroom door. And I have to take Raga over there to ease her bladdar first thing in the morning, which I always do, so that she is ready to eat something after that. This below is the posture she adopts to move forward. Earlier I was worrying if I were not doing the wrong thing in not buying a doggy cart to help her move. But having a protracted dialogue with the vet convinced me we were doing the right thing. He had told me that doggy cart is best for those dogs who are paralysed. Raga is not- she has a degeneration in her hind limbs, as a result of which her legs have gone limp. She trail behind her limply as she moves forward with her front legs.

A couple of days ago I saw the dog in our neighbourhood who has practically lived on wheels for a long time. He was sitting under a tree. I realized, due to his dependence on the wheels, he simply does not move without them. At least Raga will not become dependent on an external aid for her mobility and she will keep propelling herself till the end, because she has already accepted this posture. Plus the vet also told me that the carts can have painful

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Picture from 12th Feb 2017 when we took Raga to Noida to the vet James Rappai. In this picture we were at Monica’s home in Sector 29, and Raga was moving around in their garden

side effects, like sores on the animal. As it is this girl has a mammarian tumour- I cannot think of anything pressing her sides and causing her any further discomfort. She is eating well, growling at anyone (of the dogs) if they think of coming too close to the food- the way Dash does when he senses she is showing no interest. She is also still interested in chasing the outside dogs, Chhotu, Black and Lily, and also the former’s father. So notwithstanding a change in style of movement Raga is still moving, eating, having regular bowel and bladder movements and life is on an even, though declining keel.

I of course chose to engage in disability studies as part of my life and work, but little did I know that I would have to experience disabilities in my dogs too. First it was Dash who had been waist down immobilized (though it was a lesser issue than this one’s) and now it is Raga’s turn. Ginger is getting better with her skin issues and Nikki also is asking for a little care due to her weight issues. I am toying with putting her up on Glucosamine already.

This post had to be about all our disabilities- canine and human and how I learnt the art of patience, and calm acceptance from my little baby- Raga. Little baby , yet big girl now- gentle, intelligent and full of play still, at ten years and a month above. I am feeling the better for it now- my dogs, my home, the abundance of flowers and butterflies, the phd research (which was chocking me till a few days ago) and my other writing- all seem to make sense together. I am not despondent about Raga’s condition any more for I know this is the most I can do for her and I can see her ease and inclusion in everything. She knows she is not alone in her suffering…or so I hope and believe.

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