Blacky will be celebrating his 10th birthday on April 1. It’s not so much the years that are making Blacky old, it’s his hip dysplasia and arthritis that’s making him old before his time.
When Blacky was two, we learned about the hip dysplasia and the arthritis. He was fine one day when he went to bed and gimpy the next day when he got up in the morning. The vet did some x-rays and discovered the hip dysplasia. Blacky had probably been born with bad hips and had having problems since he was a puppy. That explained why Blacky was slow to get up from taking a nap. We just thought that it was normal awkwardness from the sudden growth spurt and his coordination didn’t quite keep up with his new longer legs. The vet put him on anti-inflamatory meds and supplements to help his joints. That also started Blacky’s twice yearly trips to the vet for bloodwork to monitor his liver and kidney functions. The anti-inflamatory meds could play havoc with his liver and kidneys if we weren’t careful.
Over the years, Blacky has done fairly well with the meds, we’ve had to change them once because the ones he was on originally stopped working for him. He typically does better during the late spring and summer – and not so well in the late fall and winter. The colder the weather, the more problems he has - and the warmer the weather, the less problems he has.
The vet has told me over the years that the arthritis won’t kill Blacky, but it will affect the quality of his life we need to be prepared to make some hard decisions "down the road". As much as I hate to think about it, now might be time for Hubby and I to start making those "down the road" decisions . .
When this last cold spell hit, Hubby and I noticed that Blacky was a little "creakier" than normal. He was having some real trouble getting up and down off his doggie bed and he was taking his time when sitting. We also noticed that it took Blacky longer than normal for him to do is business outside – not so much that he’s picky in finding a place to go, but more that he’s having a hard time finding a comfortable position. The thing that’s bothered me the most about this, though, is that Blacky has stopped wagging his tail. He was a beautiful tail that wags all the time. He can clear a coffee table with that tail. When he’s really happy, he’ll stand next to you and smack you with that tail. Hubby and I call it the Killer Tail. There’s something really wrong if the Killer Tail isn’t wagging. We took him to the vet to have him checked out and the vet told us that it’s probably a normal progession of the disease and gave us some options to think about. She added some pain meds to his daily routine and suggested that we have another set of x-rays taken to see how far the arthritis has progressed.
He’s been on the pain meds for a few days and they seem to be helping some, but I can tell that Blacky’s still in some pain. He’s still slow getting up and down and is reluctant to sit for any length of time. He’s also been having some problems in the bathroom department. Because it hurts him a little to go potty, I have to make sure he’s completely finished when he comes in the house. I have to lift his tail and make sure there aren’t any "surprises" waiting. Not something that either of us like, but it’s something that we have to do. We also have to make sure we take him out more often so that we can avoid accidents in the house. We had noticed some "surprises" in the house and actually thought Luci was to blame until Hubby saw the "surprise" happen right in front of him. That’s what really hit me and Hubby really hard. Until that moment, we thought we had some time before we had to start thinking about "down the road".
I’m praying really hard that the pain meds kick in and there’s some simple explanation (and simple solutions) for the bathroom issues that Blacky’s having. I’d really love for it to be sunny and warm here soon, but it’s January in Ohio. I know that ain’t gonna happen.
In the meantime, though, positive thoughts and prayers will be greatly appreciated.