Thinking today how thankful I am that I have two arms that work within reasonable expectations. Lots of folks aren’t so fortunate and these little blessings are often overlooked. This morning, Kev, Frances and Judy flew down to the 5th Rapids camp to close her down for the season. Gilles, our pilot, obviously went along to fly the plane leaving me alone in camp with only my two dogs, Bear (aka “B”) and Georgia, most often called “G”. (I call her “The Big G” because she is larger than her brother and has especially large ears.) The guests and guides were off on the water as per usual.
After I pushed the plane away from the dock, she warmed her engine and roared off over the hills. I heard the drone for a minute or so before the big, beautiful quiet came, a peace that I have never taken for granted. It is truly one of the marvels of this wilderness. A southerly wind came across the lake. It smelled fresh and warm so I sat down next to the boardwalk in a patch of tall grass just to breath it in and enjoy. B and G walked over and sat on either side of me making a line not unlike the trumpet section in a marching band.
That’s when I appreciated my two arms. I wrapped each one around a warm, furry body and we sat in one big lump, three faces looking out over the blue lake. We sat for a long time – thirty minutes maybe – just enjoying each other and the sweep of the wind. Big G, Billy B and me.
Georgia has been through a lot lately. She came to camp with a bad rear wheel. Eight months ago, she tore the cruciate ligament in her left hind leg and had surgery to repair it. She’s been gimpy ever since as the muscles atrophied during her convalescence. The surgeon shaved her hind quarter and the hair has not grown back. I was told that it probably never would because of the chemo treatments she had a year earlier to battle her lymphoma.
One of the dogs true pleasures in camp is fetching water bottles from the lake. I take two empty bottles, one for each dog, and add a few small rocks to each. This gives the bottles an enticing rattle and also adds ballast (or heft) so I can chuck them a far piece out into the lake. The dogs will swim, retrieve and repeat until my arms are sore from throwing.
Last week, the dogs were fetching bottles and getting their twice daily round of exercise. The wind was strong out of the north and they bobbed up and over each rolling wave. The wind and surf drowned out the sound of the plane landing on the other side of the peninsula. She was almost at the dock when I finally heard her. Leaving both dogs in the lake, I turned and ran to grab the Beaver before Gilles had to attempt to dock her alone in a strong wind. We got her tied securely and when I returned to continue play with the pups, G was lying on the ground. She had a look of panic in her eyes. When I sung out to her, she attempted to stand, but fell. She had lost her other rear leg.
I was crushed! Georgia had always been a very active dog. Matter of fact, that’s why we got Bear – to be her playmate and to run her energy dry each day. We called her “the Jumpin’ G” because of her athleticism. Now, she had no rear wheels.
After a layman’s examination, it felt like her cruciate ligament was gone again. Checking in with her vet back home, more surgery seemed our only chance to get her walking again. Our plane was due to make a trip to town the next day for groceries so we nursed G through the 24 hours and loaded her up for Labrador City. She had the surgery the following day and Dr. Cal Rice did a terrific job repairing her knee. His optimism for her recovery
did little to assuage my concerns for her regaining her mobility. She was simply bunged up. And given her previous surgery had only given her 10 or 20% use of her leg, I began to prepare for the worst – a fine dog who had beat lymphoma for 18 months, only to lose her rear legs.
But slowly through the week, her eyes began to brighten and her appetite return. We decided to remain in town until the Friday guest change-over. G slept mostly and Bear and I went on several walks each day. Our favorite was a hike up to Crystal falls and back.
Friday came and we flew back into camp with our patient managing to get her around with a sling under her belly. G was better, but surely did not promise to return to her spry old self anytime soon. The remaining two weeks of camp would be a challenge for all of us.
Here we are now a week post-op and Georgia is doing amazingly well. Not only is her “new” leg working, but her old gimpy leg has strengthened considerably. She walks mostly with our help to take the weight off her hind end, but today she walked out of the cabin and did her business twice – no assistance needed. My two arms have been wrapped around her a lot this week, for both business and for pleasure.