A mile from the house, he ran into Lake Crabtree to cool off. Shannon kept going home and I waited for the big dog. After a few minutes he crawled out of the water, his hind legs dragging limply behind him, and collapsed at my feet. He was down.
I am one of those people that talk to their dogs. "Dooright, you OK?"
He just lie there like a beached whale, his whole body heaving as he panted, his tongue was splayed out over the sand. He opened his eyes briefly and looked at me, and then closed them again.
This was very sad. Dooright used to be an unstoppable machine. I have taken him on 18 mile runs, with him sprinting through the woods in circles the whole time, and when we got home he would want to play ball. And last year he was first dog in the CARA 5K.
Although, come to think of it, he was defeated by the Uwharrie Trail last fall. Maybe he is getting old, like me. He did just turn 5, which is the Masters age group for dogs.
I let him lie there for another 5 minutes. "Come on, I have to go to work"
He tried to stand up and walk, but his back legs simply were not working. He collapsed again.
I don't know if he was cramping, dehydrated, or succumbing to old age, but I have never seen a dog break down like that.
I tried to get him to go back in the water to drink and cool off but he wouldn't move. I wasn't sure what to do. Finally, after another 10 minutes, I realized I would have to carry him.
Now, I am a weakling, and I knew I wouldn't be able to make it the mile back to the house.
But I thought I would try to make it the quarter mile to the nearest road. There, maybe I could find someone with a cell phone to call Shannon to come with a car. I bent down and picked up the 85 pounds of wet limp dog, and could barely stand up. I made it up a short steep hill and then had to put him back down and rest.
I really need to start lifting weights again, because my arms are really weak. After several more short trips, I was almost at the road, when Dooright finally was able to stand up by himself and limp slowly. He was actually sniffing around and trying to pee on things, oblivious to the fact his hips were wobbling uncontrollably.
"Well, if you're feeling that good lets go home", so we turned around and walked slowly home, with Dudley weaving back and forth like drunken frat boy. On the way back we ran into Shannon, who had come looking for us after we never showed up at the house.
The next morning he was at the door waiting to go running, apparently not remembering a thing.
"Not today, Dooright, you're taking a rest day", I said. My arms are still sore.