Year 9, Day 102

How long do wild dogs live?

It’s been almost nine years since I rescued Patches. For much of that time, she has been my only constant companion. Oh, Giraffe used to borrow her to help him hunt. But Little Gnu and Rhino didn’t want her around, so I took her exploring with me.

This past year Rainbow has felt much safer with Patches’ nose and eyes to warn her of trouble when she is gathering, though I have assured her that the warnoff that I insist she wear makes that unnecessary. But the area I was exploring at the time was so hot and dry that I thought Patches was better off with Rainbow, and later I didn’t want to risk her being found by the northern hunters. So I hadn’t paid her much attention until the People left.

I knew she was getting a little fat; Rainbow insists on giving her treats. But it wasn’t until this morning that I noticed that she was a little lame when she first woke up. Had she strained something?

I needed to replenish Rainbow’s meat store, and Patches seems to enjoy these scavenging trips so I teleported her with me to an area with dense herds of game and several prides of lions. She stopped limping as she warmed up, and I decided she had just gotten into an awkward position while she slept. But this evening she seems stiff again.

I know it’s not uncommon for the older People to be stiff when they first get moving in the morning, and those really old sometimes stay stiff all day. Could Patches be getting old?