Well, as you probably know, or may have wondered, I have been out of commission for awhile. On March 12th, beyond all hope, I managed to summit Mount Washington. Although it was cold, and technically calendar winter, it was a Bluebird day, and the mountain gods allowed us to not only make it to Mount Washington, but also on to Mount Jefferson that day. I did really well. So well, in fact, that my mommy and daddy decided to let me try to join them on a winter hike to Mount Adams and Mount Madison the next weekend where daddy would finish this silly thing called a "List". Things were looking pretty good on St. Patrick's Day as we started out from Appalachia towards the Durand Ridge Trail to the summit of Mount Adams. However, as we went along, I had an accident. I'm not sure if I slipped on the ice, or if I got my leg caught somewhere, but an old injury I have been nursing for years reared its ugly head.
My right, rear leg had given out, I couldn't finish the hike. Mommy told daddy, "You continue on. We will return and wait for you." We had to split up, which I never like to do, and daddy and mommy like it even less. Daddy continued on with his friends Tim and Matt, and mommy and I descended with our friends the Trumans. A trip to Dr. Grambow revealed what we had feared, my Cranial Cruciate Ligament had let go. It is the dog equivalent of a human Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). I was sad to hear this news. I knew it would be a long road back, and I'm not getting any younger. I know that some would question why daddy and mommy would take an old girl like me out there in the first place. My answer to them would be: "Because they love me, and because I love them, and because we always watch out for each other. They know that I will let them know if I'm not doing well, and I plan on making them hike with me until I no longer can. I know that comes for all of us, but it hasn't come for me yet!" I made a pact with mommy and daddy, that we would work hard together to make my leg better so we could all hike again.
After x-rays and lots of examining by Dr. Grambow and then again by Dr. Lampman, who did my surgery, my knee surgery was scheduled, but it was almost a month until I could get it done! I had to take things very easy, no hiking or playing and no stairs until the surgery, and then the same rules for twelve more weeks after! This was going to be hard for everyone! Mommy and daddy discussed a few different methods of repairing my knee, but in the end we decided that a titanium plate would work best for me. The procedure required my tibia to be split, a titanium spacer to be placed in the split, and a titanium plate screwed in to hold everything in place while the bone healed, which would take about nine weeks. This would tighten up my knee joint, and keep bones from rubbing together which was what was making my leg sore and useless. The Drs. said there was hardly any arthritis at all, and that after surgery, in time, I should be able to do all the things I love to do again. The day of the surgery I tried to not be nervous, but it was very hard. I don't like to have to visit the vet at all, but I knew it was necessary if I ever wanted to hike with mommy and daddy again. I had to be a big, brave dog, which was hard 'cause I'm so little!
The day of the surgery finally came and everything went well! Daddy said he hadn't felt so helpless since the day he left my Uncle Justin at Children's Hospital for surgery thirty years ago when he was a baby. I don't remember much about the surgery, but I do remember mommy and daddy coming to get me to bring me home, we were all very relieved. With the surgery now behind me I could go about the business of getting better! There was a lot of work to do, and I had to allow mommy and daddy to do a lot of things for me that I would have liked to do myself. It was hard, not doing all the things I'm accustomed to doing, but I got lots of love and help from mommy and daddy. For the first few weeks mommy and daddy would push me in a little cart up to the corner so I could do my business. I didn't like being lifted in and out of the cart, I wanted to do it myself! I did get used to riding in the cart, though. I felt like the queen being chauffeured around! Soon, we could do very short leash walks, just so I could relieve myself. I wanted to break free and run and run, but I knew for now I couldn't. I wanted to climb the stairs, and hop into the car and out again, but every time I tried mommy or daddy would scoop me up and carry me. I didn't really like it, but I knew it was necessary if my leg was to heal.
As the weeks passed we did lots of exercises to strengthen my knee, and I got lots of massages from mommy and daddy. As more weeks passed, I got stronger and my leg was beginning to heal, and to feel a whole lot better. After several weeks I was allowed to walk off leash again for short walks, it had seemed like an eternity! Everyone was happy that I was becoming myself again, but I was happiest most of all! It seemed like a very long time since I was able to do all that I wanted to do. As more weeks passed I got stronger and stronger and my walks got longer and longer. Finally, I was allowed to see some of my friends again, and I got to play a little bit with Mr. Blue, Preston, Shasta, Zoey and Ruby. It was great to see all my friends again, I started to think, "I must be getting better!" For a little dog who likes to run and run and bounce up and down mountains, this waiting was all very hard for me. I didn't understand why I couldn't do all that I wanted to, but mommy and daddy said I had to wait for the bone to completely heal, and the Drs. said it would be nine to ten weeks for that. I don't know what a week is, but it sure seems like a very long time!
Finally, nine weeks had passed since my surgery! By some seemingly divine intervention it was exactly nine weeks to the day and the first day of mommy's vacation which she had to pick in February. It seemed like things were finally beginning to work out! If you are still with me, I want to tell you all about the first "Big Hills" I ever climbed. They are called Mount Battie and Mount Megunticook, and they are in Camden, Maine. It was February and it was near daddy's birthday. We were staying at the Camden Harbor Inn, it seemed like a very big place to such a little dog! Mommy and daddy had begun to take me on longer and longer hikes, but nothing too difficult, they knew I was still growing and wasn't done yet, and they wanted me to be as big and strong as I could be for such a little girl! When we went outside the Inn I could look up and see two of the biggest things I had ever seen! Daddy said they were called "Camden Hills" and that one was Mount Battie, and the other was Mount Megunticook. I wondered if I could possibly hike up them and look down.
I soon got to find out! Even though it was winter and very cold, I had thick, double fur, and mommy and daddy put on stuff that isn't anywhere near as good as having your own fur, but I guess it keeps them warm all the same. We set off across the snow and up to the summit of Mount Battie. I had never seen such a place! We were way up high over the Camden. I could see church steeples sticking up over the tops of what I supposed were trees, though I had never seen one from above before. Beside the trees and steeples there were houses, and what I guessed were rooftops, though I had never seen one of those, either, and there, beyond the rooftops and trees and steeples was something daddy called a "Harbor" and it was filled with tiny toy boats, which are like cars, but they go on water. Then I could see surrounding all the toy boats and going on for as far as my little eyes could see, there was water, and in it were things called "Islands" which daddy says are little bits of land surrounded by water, and he said this huge water that I could see was called, "Penobscot Bay".
From there I turned another way, and I could see the other hill, the one called Megunticook. It was higher still than where I was and I wanted to go there and see if I could see even more things I had never seen before! So, after some snacks, (I was very hungry) we were off to the other high place. On the way up there mommy finally decided it would be easier if I were "off leash" and I could climb on my own. I promised to be a good girl and from that day on I always hiked off leash. Sometimes I have to be back on leash for certain sections of trails, or around other people or dogs, but I am such a good girl that it is really not necessary very often. Mostly I am off leash, and that is what I like! We scrambled over tricky, icy ledges up to some cliffs where I could see even further than before! It was great and I decided then and there that I would take mommy and daddy to as many high places as I could, even though I was just a little dog! From the cliffs we went on to a place called "The Summit", but I don't know what the big deal was, it was just a pile of rocks in the woods, and I couldn't see anything but trees, and those I could see at home any time I wanted to!
So, as it turned out, my surgery has been successful, and we waited nine weeks for my bone to heal. Now it was mommy's vacation, and so now, twelve years after my first "Real" hills, I was returning to Camden, and returning to Mount Battie and Mount Megunticook! I was excited, but it was a very long drive. When we got there, we had to set up camp, and we were very hungry! Afterwards, we hiked down from the campsite to the ocean. It was nice, but I was tired, and a little sore from riding in the car all day. Later, we tried to hike Mount Battie, but I just didn't feel up to it. Mommy told daddy to go on if he wanted, and we turned back, but a few minutes after we got back to the campsite, so did daddy. He said, "If she doesn't want to hike up, she can ride up." I was good with that, and we all went up Mount Battie in the car! I was happy to see my Camden and Penobscot Bay again from atop my Mount Battie!
Next morning we were up and had a big breakfast. I felt good, better than the day before, and after last night, I wanted to go back up to Mount Battie and look out on the Bay again! So, after breakfast and clean up, we set off for a hike, I felt good, and was very happy to be on the trail again, so many years and so many mountains had passed since I had gone this way, back to the place where I had started. I thought about all the mountains I had taken mommy and daddy to over all the years, and it made me very glad that we had been able to share all those great hikes! As we hiked I knew we were going what mommy and daddy call "Up", though it makes no difference to me, I just like being on the trail! Soon, we came to a place where there were some ledges. I stepped out onto them, and then I knew where I was! I was up on the cliffs of Mount Megunticook once again!
There I sat with mommy and daddy, and we had some snacks, and we looked out over the rooftops and steeples to the harbor and the bay and we watched the toy boats floating up and down before us. This time, I could see below us what must have been Mount Battie, there was a road, and I could see toy cars going up and down it. I felt good! I knew I could take mommy and daddy there next, but they wanted to go find the silly summit, why, I'll never know! But soon, we had been to the summit and had a good lunch, and now we were on our way back "Down", and I was hoping we were heading to Mount Battie. I was going to take mommy and daddy there anyway, so they might as well head in that direction. Sure enough, after descending, and crossing the auto road which now seemed much bigger and had "Real" cars on it, we began to go "Up" again. Before long, we were back at the top of Mount Battie. We still had a little over a mile to go to hike back down to our campsite, but I felt very good, and after another good rest and more snacks, we began to head back "Down".
Back at the campsite I plopped down. I will admit, I was pooped. I hadn't done anything like that in over thirteen weeks! It felt really good to be back on the trail with mommy and daddy, and I know they were very happy to be out there with me again! After a very big supper, even by my standards, and after daddy massaged my leg a bit, I fell fast asleep. When I say "Fast Asleep", it means I dreamt of the trail I was on that day, and I did a little running in my sleep. When I run in my sleep, the trail goes by much faster and easier, so I am "Fast Asleep"! Well, that is my story for now. There is more about my taking mommy and daddy on vacation to tell about, but you will have to wait until I write it, until then, I hope you liked my story!