Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Stairway Gates

Repeating this photo in full frame...Kirby's favorite dining spot.

As a part of Kirby's "nothing to get his heart rate up" treatment protocol, we have to prevent him from running up and down the stairs. That's not an easy task. Attempts to block the stairs with a temporary combination of cardboard boxes and an old CD rack were proving a bit too difficult for us to manage and a bit too easy for Kirby to push through. So we finally went to the store and bought a couple of dog gates, one for the bottom of the stairs and one for the top.

Of course, being the skittish little guy he is around new things, he was terrified of the gates at first. But now he stands in front of the gate and lifts up his front legs so we can pick him up more easily. I'm always amazed at how quickly dogs adapt.

While I'm sure that missing this critical daily exercise will result in Kirby getting a bit out of shape, carrying him up and down the stairs is certainly helping to strengthen our arm muscles.

But I do feel sorry for Kirby. Moving to a house with stairs gave him a whole new avenue for burning off excess energy. While Baxter has always been at somewhat of a loss for spinning and running space in our relatively small homes (one reason we frequent the dog park and go for long walks), Kirby has been perfectly able to work up a good pant just doing the Kirby Derby around the furniture.

When we moved into our new home, Kirby adapted to the stairs with glee. Running up and down repeatedly -- with or without squeaky toy -- became one of his favorite activities. He even started eating on the stairs. Kirby would run into the kitchen, scoop up a mouthful of kibble, run up to the first landing in the stairway, spit out the kibble and proceed to eat each piece individually before racing back down to the kitchen for another mouthful. (Baxter, who prefers to gobble down his food right in front of his dish seemed completely non-plussed by the whole affair.)

I think we'll all be glad when this treatment is over and Kirby can start strengthening his climbing muscles again. Of course, at that point I'll need to dig out the hand weights to keep those biceps toned...

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