This fella turns 10 today. Now 10 doesn’t sound very old, but he is an English Mastiff.
This past summer he reached the point where he could no longer manage the stairs and in the past couple of months it has gotten to where he needs help getting to his feet. We use a beach towel folded lengthwise to make a sling slipped under his belly to provide him some lift. It hurts our souls when he moves around after he is down as he pulls his back end around with his front legs. It doesn’t matter whether he is on the wood floor or the carpet, he just doesn’t have the strength in his hind quarters to get himself up. Each year, the pups get new beds for Christmas and we got this thick orthopaedic one for him this year. He will put his front half on it, but even if you get him to walk up on it and lie down, he will end up working his back legs off. You would think it would be so much more comfortable than the hard floor. He is still a very loveable old curmudgeon, demanding of attention if you sit down in the living room where he now lives.
We laugh at some of his quirky ways. For his entire life, he and the German Shepherd have been fed in the utility room with the tile floor. As he grew, we raised his food and water on a feeder stand and this year, bought a taller one so he doesn’t have to bend down as far. The German Shepherd inherited the shorter one as she too is approaching 10 years old this spring, but is still fairly spry though with much less energy than she used to have. When Ranger goes in to eat, he has plenty of room to turn around to walk back out, but has always backed out of the room until he is in the much narrower doorway then turns around. Of course, we provide the “beep, beep” sound of a backing truck when he does it.
When a Mastiff wants your attention, they will paw you. His paws are as large as my hands. As a young pup, we were told to do everything a child might do to him to aclimate him to pokes and prods. You can mess with his paws, ears, pull his tail, check his teeth, step over him and he patiently accepts it. He isn’t a fan of nail trims, but even that can generally be done without too much reaction. As a young dog, you would often find a grandchild laying on the floor with him with their head on his side. He travelled to Florida with us one year with his head in grandson’s lap most of the way. He considers the grands as his kids.
The March we picked him up from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hubby was instantly in love. I was a bit more cautious, especially when the owner of the parents called up to his welding shop and told them they could let the dogs come down the hill to us. I saw two freight trains with flapping jowls barrelling down the hill and wondered what on earth we had just done. We couldn’t have asked for a better dog.
Happy Birthday, Ranger, old man.