A Maia Update

Maia is, in a word, amazing.

She rolls with life's punches, picks herself up, shakes off the dust, and keeps on living to the fullest. 

What a role model.

Maia at Juanita Beach Park.
Since taking Maia off prednisone and getting her back on Novox, every day has been better, an improvement over the previous day. Small incremental gains adding up to monumental progress. She has regained strength and mobility and her balance is back to normal.

Far too many days during those dark times in January, Maia either couldn't walk, or didn't want to walk. When I coaxed her outside, she lagged behind.

Now, she's demanding daily afternoon walks again. No coaxing required. She's pulling. That's what happy malamutes do. It's a sure sign she's back to normal.

Sun reflecting on Juanita Bay, Lake Washington.
Today is another milestone: Maia and I walk to Juanita Beach Park, make a circuit through the park and back home again - about a mile total - all without needing to stop for a rest. Given that a month ago Maia could barely get up, let alone walk, this is a huge gain. I'm so proud of her. When a small child on a tricycle points at Maia and asks her daddy, "Is that a wolf?" I smile broadly and say, "No, she's just a really great dog." 

Maia's second round of chemo on January 26th was harder on her than the first. That was expected. She remains stoic, never complaining. Her appetite was depressed for about a week after chemo, but is back to normal. Her third dose of chemo will be February 16th. Depending on how she handles that one - their effect is cumulative, each harder on her system then the previous one - I'll decide whether to continue on to a fourth and final dose. 

I'm mindful that sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease. All I can do is watch Maia closely, listen to her body language, and do what I think she would want.

In the meantime, we walk daily. Maia once again patrols the neighborhood. I see smiles from strangers who live in the neighborhood; they've noticed Maia's absence and are happy to see her out and about again. I marvel at how much strength Maia gains, how her interest in the world around her - sights, smells, sounds - returns and grows with each and every outing.

In fact, Maia may be strong enough to return to our earlier routine of walks with Meadow, coupled together. I've worried that Meadow might pull Maia off balance and cause her to stumble. Now, seeing how Maia pulls again, and given she hasn't stumbled on her own for several days, I think it's time to walk them together again. All those kind strangers who have asked where Maia is these past few weeks when I've been walking Meadow will be happy to see both girls walking together again. 

So will I.

Meadow may not be happy about being coupled to Maia again, though. I've noticed that once she got used to not having Maia alongside, she took to having the freedom to sniff whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. 

Meadow on the shore of Lake Washington at Juanita Bay.

Meadow also likes the freedom of meeting and playing with other dogs we encounter on our walks. Today it was an adorable eight month old King Charles Cavalier. Maia is less open to meeting new dogs (so many of them growl at her). So when I take Meadow on solo walks, we look forward to meeting new dogs, or playing with some old friends, like Quentin.

Meadow and Quentin play coy, pretending to ignore each other.

Quentin's a young boy. He's most interested in digging. Meadow quickly becomes bored. She's older, more sophisticated.

Quentin digs.

Meadow gives me her "Can we start walking again?" look.

We head for home. Other dogs are taking their people for strolls, as well.

Sometimes - at the park, or nearer to home - we're treated to the sight of bald eagles. These two catch my attention as we approach home, screeching at each other and flapping wings as they hovered over the tree, perhaps arguing over who gets top spot.

One eagle atop the tree, another just below, white head visible against the green boughs.
Back home, dinner in our bellies, everyone relaxes.

The girls chill.

Toys are brought out.

Finn mauls his hedgehog.

Maia finds the squeaker in her long dog toy.

Meadow snoozes.

In typical Meadow fashion, she sleeps with tongue out, toy guarded with a paw.
While I've always treasured my time with my dogs, Maia's cancer has sharpened my awareness and appreciation of all that they do and all that they bring to my life. They enrich me in incalculable ways.

Life is too short and uncertain to squander. Go live. Play. Love. Hug your dog.

Rebecca WallickComment