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.

IMG_3258Our 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.

IMG_3257Making doggie snow angels.

Shiloh is doing well, with very little arthritis and no other noticeable problems.  He’s 10 1/2 years old.

IMG_3296Big 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.


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28 Responses to JOY

  1. judilyn says:

    So beautiful! ***many smiles through tears of joy***

    Virtual hugs,


  2. ulf kjellström says:

    PUBBIE..your loving post about your two companions touches me really express things like this in a typical MickyWay😃….if there is no pain(if pain from this degenerative disease should appear is there any drugs for that?If so I would never let her go until she calls it a quit but you know best here of course…

    I myself has now suffered from extreme pain most of it neuropatic for almost 12 months..bedbound 90% of the time….Swedish health care has completely said a total NO to me and was at my housedoctor after 6 weeks wait for an appointment.I never thought Idå survive but have enormous inner strenght…he told me he exactly understood my situation and that he wanted to prescribe what I found best but finally said I cant do that as your psychiatrist has warned me and states that Ulf must under no circumstances get these drugs and he stated..youre 68 no job or family to worry have a right now to some years enjoying life painfree whatever drugs that takes….and then he proposed..why not try to get it on the black market..I thought I heard wrong..but it might end up in jail with pain?..He is from Poland and then said. Well Swedish prisons arent that bad!!!…so finally I yesterday ordered the hopefully best drugs from an internet felt good afterwards…apart from the cost..for 30 days it costs 1000 $$$$…but hope to get on my feet and next step go to Gerrit in Holland where he will arrange an appointment with a doc who is experienced in medical cannabis for neuropathic pain…1-2 drops s day in a cup of tea ir coffee generally helps a lot..and cannabis my housedoc also supported still have a bright outlook and I guess I will continue to have till my dying days..LUV..also to Shilo(will never get that rite;) and the amazing oldie JOY😍😎🤡..Hugs anf keep on..Michigan your old home state eh?…CUB…

    Den 6 apr. 2017 16:27 skrev “Wandering Spirit” :

    > onewanderingspirit posted: ” 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'” >

    • Hi Cubbie,
      So nice to see you here. Seems to me though that you have had continual pain for much much longer than a year….but I’m thinking that this last year must be worse, from what you have written. So glad to hear that you have hope with the two things you mentioned, but jeez….don’t end up in Swedish prison! Prolly wouldn’t be able to have your Stonestuff. Not good.

      I doubt that there is anything that would control neurological pain for dogs. Seems they have a heck of a time doing it for humans, as you well know. Have been thinking about you a lot since she was diagnosed with this. As long as she’s happy…as long as she is Joyful, we will keep on keeping on. If she can’t walk, im not strong enough enough to carry her, and that’s a huge worry for me. I have her carriage (stroller) and I have a sling type thing that I would put under her tummy and hold with handles on top, to help her walk, or go up stairs, etc.

      Yes, the plan is Michigan, after the Dakotas and Minnesota, but we will take one day at a time and see how it goes. It may have been worse for her recently because of the cold weather….however hot weather makes the respitory part of this difficult, so we will see.

      Hugs from m, j & s!

  3. My goodness girl, you must be freezing!! I’m truly thankful to be back in the warmth of Texas, although last night was in the 50’s…and I was cold, cold…even put the heat on…I love heat!
    I feel so badly about Joy’s condition, and I know you are doing all you can to make the rest of her time as pleasurable as possible. I think it’s the hardest thing to even think about the fact that we will eventually loose them. But like you said, we need to thoroughly enjoy every moment we have with them, family, friends, and nature. Time is so precious, and much too short. I promise to keep you, Joy, and Shiloh always in my prayers!
    BTW, I love your new camp, and especially like the pic (I think it’s Joy) making the snow angel!!!
    You be safe and well, my friend!

    • Hi Pat, thank you for your prayers! Yes, that is Joy making snow angles. She loves rolling in snow ( well, grass too). Her metabolism is always on high, so cold snow all over her feels good.
      This is a beautiful area, and at this campground there are some really, really nice sites, and some not very nice ones as well, sorry to say. It’s literally right across Hwy 160 from Mesa Verde, and that big mesa in the background of my campsite picture is in Mesa Verde National Park.
      You be safe too….I think you are on the road again soon?

  4. marianblum says:

    Thank you sooo much, Micky, for sharing your heartfelt and wise words! Such an important reminder. Gorgeous photos!!
    When Sammy got a rabies shot in 2015, he was in the hospital the next day and diagnosed with diabetes. The vet said “no more rabies vaccines” for him. I didn’t realize they are taxing to the immune system, and I guess the pancreas. Of course he already had chronic inflammatory bowel disease and had had pancreatitis periodically so those are probably big factors in how the diabetes developed. Sammy is still with me, gets his insulin twice a day… and I, too, am
    grateful for his presence in my life–how lucky we are!

    • Hi Marian, so glad to hear from you and hear that you still have your little Sammy. I know with you he has the best care he could have.
      I was leary of the rabies vaccine and the others, but traveling as we do, I couldn’t not do it. I asked for the one year instead of the three year but apparently hey don’t do one year rabies anymore, at least not here. I’ve been watching for reactions but haven’t seen anything unusual going on.
      Yes we are so fortunate to have these sweet companions. They are just the BEST.

  5. Dawn says:

    So hard to realize that time together doesn’t last forever. I’m leaking a few tears here reading about Joy. What a sweetie. And that last picture is just precious. Hug her close, I know you are, and play when she wants to play, nap when she wants to nap. It’s all good.

    • Hi Dawn, yes it’s all about the dogs, isn’t it? Where we go and when and what we do when we get there.
      Time goes too fast and their life spans are too short. Joy has lived her whole life in high gear, dragging me along with her….sometimes literally! 😂 She’s been…and still is….a huge presence in my life, though she’s slowing down. But her Joyfulness and love doesn’t slow down….

  6. Pat says:

    Seeing Joy by the river rang a caution bell with me. You use different muscles for swimming and I’d be afraid that she wouldn’t be able to support herself in the water with her problems. Not that she can’t go in, but maybe keep the leash on her while she is in the water? I love the old guys. I have SChipperkes. My old guy is 13 and still bounces around like a pup. He’s getting pretty deaf though. I keep a whistle by the door to call him in, he can’t hear my shout any more.


    • Hi Pat, thank you for your concerns! You know, I almost never let them swim without their extendable leashes on. I’ve been really glad for that a number of times, too, where there has been swift currents….and then, mostly, they only come back when they feel like it, and over the years they usually haven’t felt like it. They ARE somewhat better with that now, in their old age, and while we were at CLR I was able to leave them off leash quite a lot, but there is no water there, either.
      Swimming is actually supposed to be a good exercise for this disease, like physical therapy, but one has to have the right place to do it. A swimming pool would be ideal.
      I had to look up Schipperke! I don’t think I’d ever heard of that breed, but they sure are nice looking dogs!

  7. Laura says:

    hug Joy Buzzer for me 🙂 Shiloh too!
    oh yeah and you.

  8. Sharron says:

    SOOO scared me when I first saw Joy’s picture by herself and the title!!! She and Shiloh both are so precious. They are both loved so much and have a wonder life with you and I am sure they know that. Hugs all around!
    My love, Sharron

    • Hi Sharron, thank you for your kind words and sending your love. Yes, I think they have had some pretty unique experiences. I wish I would have kept track of all the rivers, streams and lakes they have soaked in!
      And you hug little Peggy Sue for me, along with your other kids!
      Hugs and love to you all.

  9. Mush says:

    Oh my heck Micky, my heart was in my throats when I first opened this post. Thank you so much for easing my anxiety immediately! My baby is a young 6 years now, but I a always aware the time will pass quickly and never to take her love for granted. One of my favorite songs is If Today Were Your Last Day by Nickelback. Live now and love deeply! Your are a great example of this.
    Blessings to you and pups😘

    • Thanks for your kind words Mush. It seems like Joy was a puppy just yesterday…sometimes I think time is an illusion.
      Our pups are such good examples of living in the moment, and I really need to learn to do that, especially now…we all do I guess. We have good teachers…

  10. Your beautiful family is just that…beautiful. And I feel a tear well as I think of the changes that will surely come, but until then it certainly seems you are surrounded with JOY. Take in every moment!

  11. Adrienne says:

    Made me cry and hug my 20 year old Chihuahua a little longer than usual…

  12. Lynda Jerome says:

    Has she ever been tested for lymes disease? Symptoms sound like a dog I had with it. Lynda Jerome.

    • Hi Lynda, good to hear from you. No she has never been tested for Lymes. I just now looked it up and there seem to be a lot of symptoms with Lymes that she has never had. Also this has been going on very gradually for a long time now, starting with the Laryngeal symptoms almost 3 years ago. I think this vet got it right.

  13. Gerri & Mike says:

    What a beautiful precious lady she is….Joy!! Perfectly named. I cried through much of this blog because Mike and I can relate. Ahhh, the Golden spirit!! I’m so glad she has such great love with you and Shiloh!! Isn’t it amazing what our animal friends can teach us!!

    • Hi Gerri and Mike, yes they are such great teachers….teaching by example, day in and day out. Here’s hoping I’ve been half so good a student…
      She really is perfectly named, you got that right! Thanks for your kind words.

  14. Michael says:

    I sense that you are prepared. These are the hardest times of life. You gave that girl a wonderful, fulfilled life. She felt your love, protection and care all the days. She gave back in full, as I’m sure you know. She will be with you always, regardless. Hold her, let her bask in your feelings for her. Understand that there are folks out here who understand and care about what you are going through. I send you strength, love and understanding. Take care.

    • Michael what beautiful thoughts. Thank you.
      You know part of me has been mourning her in advance for awhile now. I’ll never be ready, but I want what’s best for her and I am prepared in my heart to let or allow that to happen.
      Yes Joy is a giver, that’s for sure…a giver of so much love to everyone that at times it’s been quite overwhelming!
      She will be with me always….yes she will…that’s the comfort part.

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