I took Maggie for a checkup a few weeks ago because I was worried about the way she was losing oomph in her back legs. I twittered my distress and a blogfriend sent me a link about a vet in Oakleigh who is reported to be doing great things with a new stem cell technique. So I took her there, too.
One of her front legs has been stuffed for a while. She does a cheerful swagger and shuffle round the park, but she doesn’t keep ahead of me the way she used to. Instead, I need to stop and wait for her.
Maggie has arthritis and calcification in her spine and in her hips and in the dodgy front elbow. She’s had extensive X-rays under a general anaesthetic with Cartrophen and cortisone administered by needle while she was under. I’ve been given instructions for her new regimen: More Cartrophen – yes, I know about the sharks, but it’s the dog I know and love versus the shark I’ve never met. Heat packs twice daily on the spine. Fish oil capsules and Glucosamine/Chondroitin capsules (“Give her one of those fish oil capsules,” said the droll, shaggy-grey-haired vet from Central Casting, “take one yourself and give one to the husband.”) Gentle hip stretches, which she submits to with more grace than you’d think. Excercise twice daily, which she gets anyway, and more – “keep her moving,” said the vet.
She goes back on Monday for a followup examination and the vet will decide whether or not to offer a new stem cell treatment which has supposedly worked quite well for the few dogs on which it’s been tried.
It’s all a lot to get our heads around. How much more time she has left is up for grabs. We have to make sure that that time is happy and pain free and as active as her spine and joints allow.
For now, she is pottering and sniffing the exciting smells in her favourite haunts…
Wallowing like a furry hippopotamus in the creek
Having a good shake, and ignoring the cries of any humans nearby who get a bath in the process
And having a lovely roll in the grass to get beautifully coated with dirt and mulch.
Joy of living: we still haz it.