Regarding Harper



I just wanted to give you guys an update on my crazy dog, Harper – who, as I have mentioned before on this blog, may or may not be 1,000 years old, who we brought to the wilderness of the BWCA and she almost did not come back. Who, back in February, laid down in my office, and couldn’t get back up.


She’s great.

She rallied.

We’ve had this dog since 1998 – the vet thought she was between 3 and 5 at the time – so she’s some age that would require math for me to figure out right now. (Stupid math.) She blew out her knee, and we had to lay rugs all around the house so that she could get around (wood floors were a problem). She refused to drink water, so I had to trick her by diluting beef broth. I had to coax her to eat her pain meds with cream cheese, and then when she wised up, hot dogs, and then again when she wised up I bought fancy goose pate from the fancy foods store. She loved it. Smart girl, that Harper.

My daughter, who usually takes her on her walks, started just taking her to the end of the block and back, and even then, she’d have to lay down and rest.

Slowing down, we thought. Months, not years, we thought.

And then, she could make it to the end of the block.

And then, she could make it much farther than the end of the block. Ella took her on walks along the creek. First to the low bridge. Then the high bridge. Then all the way to the Falls.

Last weekend, we took her on a three mile walk. She loved it. She’s not on pain meds anymore and she can finally make it up and down the stairs with ease. Her appetite has normalized,  she no longer needs to be tricked into drinking water, and – while she can’t go for a run anymore, and three miles seems to be her limit – she is utterly back to normal.

Which brings me back to my original set of assumptions: 1. Harper is magic. 2. Harper is one thousand years old. 3. Harper will outlive us all.

6 thoughts on “Regarding Harper

  1. Glad to hear Harper is still going strong. What a great dog. And if she doesn’t end up in your fiction at some point (if not directly, than obliquely) I will be disappointed. She is too good a character to not use.

  2. Pet PSA: Not knowing all the details, you might read and/or ask your vet about glucosamine for dogs (it mainly helps with hip dysplasia or arthritis, if this is Harper’s problem). I’ve pet-sat three dogs with mobility/pain issues that have noticeably rebounded after taking this supplement (many humans with joint issues take it too). It can take weeks to see results (the change is gradual), so don’t give up on it right away if you try it. For dogs who hate pills, there’s a few liquid types that taste like gravy, which avoids the “take your meds” fight. Good luck!

  3. My own dog came to me at 8 weeks old, daughter of a white poodle dad, and typical little spanish Spaniel mum, in 1999. We called her breed a ‘Spanoodle!’ She is now nearly 15 years old, and has been the greatest dog I have ever had! Reading Harpers story I can see so much of my little Phoebe in what you are saying! Phoebe has fits, not full blown epilepsy, but still distressing, but thankfully they are short and don’t leave her worried or disorientated, and we know how to cope with it. She has been a great ambassador for my dog training school here in Spain, enjoying both obedience and agility with great enthusiasm! She has helped young children with reading problems who enjoy her company while they read to her, has enabled children with’dog phobia’ over come their fears, and has learnt innumerable tricks which she still loves to perform! She has taught our new dog Jess to be calm and take things in her stride, which in turn has helped with nervous and unsettled dogs that have come along to my classes. I know I will not have her forever, and that I will never have another dog that is my ‘Soul Mate’ but while she is still with me, I will love her with all my heart, which, of course will eventually be broken when she finally goes to the rainbow bridge!

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