The name started with my first dog. He would walk so much faster in the sun, then slow to a snails pace in the shade. It was such a dramatic shift in his speed and his desire to walk, he earned the nickname “2-speed.”
As I worked more and more with seniors animals, I noticed my “2-speed” was not alone. Some dogs would walk slower going away from the house and double time-it on the way back.
One of my loudest messages as a senior pet care provider is to honor your animal. I’m not talking about letting a young dog rule the roost. This is about when you sleep wrong and you kink your neck, you don’t turn it to the left that day. Listen to your body. In this case, we’re passing that respect on to our senior pets. If they seem to be having a slower day, let them. Its OK to have a less than 100% day. By honoring what our pets bodies are telling them, we can help them have comfort and quality in their life.
2-speeds are the exception to this rule, sometimes. Maybe. My dog wasn’t tired of the walk, he wasn’t even super hot. He was a wise, older animal who had figured out his joy was not found exercising, especially in the sun.
I honored him by changing the times of day we walked. I made sure it was cool. He would still act tortured to be out on a walk. I didn’t see any gait changes or subtle signs of pain in him, but wanted to respect him in this phase of life. I then shortened our walks, they were almost to nothing. We added in swimming to help him move with relief on his joints.
Maintaining comfortable mobility is a major quality of life component in comfort care for hospice animals. Mobility is a longevity and comfort staple. All the 2-speeds to date have taught me that animals, like people, don’t always want to do what’s best for them. Caring for them well sometimes means taking that walk, even if its shorter.
Imagine an old man whose doctor asked him to walk once a day for his health and his wife may sometimes have to…encourage him to take that walk. Serve your pets well. Keep them comfortably mobile and honor them, as opposed to being swindled by these wonderful souls.
Have you had a 2-speed in your life? I’d love to hear about them! Use the comments below to share your story.