We are in Colorado now, and I was going to tell you about what we are seeing here (and how we are freezing here…experienced our coldest night ever, at a low of 19 degrees!). Instead I need to tell you about Joy. She’s still with me and doing ok, it’s not THAT…but….
It’s time for rabies vaccine (required by law) for Joy and Shiloh and since I’m near Durango, Colorado, I ask a friend who lived here for awhile (that would be ‘Kerry’ and her dog ‘Annabelle’) for a vet recommendation. She tells me who she went to and liked, so I make an appointment, days before I even arrive in Colorado.
Now as it turns out, when you take a dog to a vet in Colorado (also in Arizona, and I don’t know what other states) the vet has to do a complete physical before she can do anything else, even give a rabies vaccine. Joy and Shiloh saw their own vet in California twice in November, but I’ll do whatever it takes.
Our campsite now.
Dr Linda sees us at the appointed time…no waiting. She does a very through exam of both dogs. Besides rabies, they need their Dhpp and Bordetella boosters, and since we plan to head into Michigan eventually, they need heartworm meds, so they need the blood test for that. Also I’m running out of Rimadyl, a doggie pain med for arthritis. Since I’m paying for a full exam I launch into a description of all Joys problems and symptoms. After the exam and our talk, the doctor comes up with a probable diagnosis, and I have to say, it’s something I’ve though about for awhile now. Yes, she has arthritis, but surprisingly little for a girl her age. What is more likely is a nerve disorder called Canine Degenerative Neuropathy aka Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, which is about the same thing from what I can figure. Somewhere in her spine the myelin that covers her nerves is wearing away. Right now it’s affecting all her legs, causing weakness and muscle atrophy in her back legs. Watching her, it’s like her legs don’t always get the message from her brain about what to do, and sometimes like her back legs are too weak to do what she wants them to.
Can I go swimming mom?
I was chalking it up to old age and arthritis (she will be 14 in September), but somewhere in my heart I knew it might be more than that. This disease is fairly pain free, but can result in paralysis. It’s progress can vary. It turns out that even the Laryngeal Paralysis she has been having for close to 3 years now can be and probably is, related to this disease.
There are major tests that can be done to rule out every other thing that it might possibly be…cat scans, blood work, etc, but there is no cure for it….no magic pill to make it go away. Regular walking and exercise to keep her legs as strong as possible, and daily fish oil seem to be the things that will help her the most. For some reason I feel better knowing what’s going on and being able to put a name to it.
Making doggie snow angels.
Shiloh is doing well, with very little arthritis and no other noticeable problems. He’s 10 1/2 years old.
Big brother standing guard.
Joy is happy….absolutely Joyful as usual, as you know if you’ve ever met this wonderful girl. That hasn’t changed. I always say, she’s the most Joyful person I’ve ever met, and she spreads her Joy, mostly to Shiloh and I. I know she’s baffled by the weakness, the tripping, the stumbling. She tries to be strong. She hopes I don’t notice. She rests more than she used to.
Life without her is hard to comprehend.
Some things a diagnosis like this for my much loved companion does, is remind me to enJoy my time with her now…today…this hour. It reminds me to frequently let her and Shiloh know how loved they are, and it reminds me that I really have no idea how much time that they, or I, or anyone, has left on this little blue marble, and every day needs to be considered precious and cherished by each of us. It reminds me again to find Joy in those we hold dear, and in the beauty of nature all around us….the mountains, the flowers, the night sky, trees, lakes streams…the ocean.
It reminds me not to take anyone or anything that I love for granted.
Never. Never. Never.