My posts since the month of June have been a little short and inconsistent. The end of the school year with track season winding up caused some of that, but there was also a huge hurdle that hit our household. That hurdle involved our dog Snoopy, who is a 10 year old purebred beagle.
Snoopy turned 10 this May. And this past weekend, I celebrated his 10 year “anniversary” or otherwise referred to by many pet owners as his “Gotcha Day”. I bought Snoopy back in July 2007, when I was still back in Wisconsin. I had done my research on Beagle breeders in the general Midwest area and settled on buying Snoopy from Blackhawk Beagles in Mount Morris, Illinois (The couple who sold me Snoopy were on their last litter at that point and have since retired from breeding).
But on June 1st of this year, my husband and I weren’t so sure if Snoopy would be making it to his 10 year anniversary.
Back in November 2016, we were told by our vet that Snoopy most likely had arthritis. He had been exhibiting some pain from time to time, where we couldn’t exactly pinpoint what hurt him! He’d be on the couch and you touch his head the wrong way; he’d yelp. Touch his foot the wrong way; he’d make an angry face. He from time to time couldn’t get up on the couch with ease or the bed. He would also walk with a drunken stupor and have trouble standing. Our vet checked his general reflexes and determined he must be having flare-ups of arthritis. At that time, we were given a liquid anti-inflammatory to administer to Snoopy when we noticed a flare-up happening. Repeat this for 4 days and he should improve.
This worked fine until the beginning of June. A flare-up began, but it got worse VERY FAST. I left for Edmonton with our Track & Field team for provincials, and my husband had to deal with seeing Snoopy deteriorate. It was not the normal flare-up. He was losing feeling in his front legs. Dan took him in for an x-ray, but with him squirming around they couldn’t get a clear one. We would need to bring him back Monday. By the time I got home on the Saturday night, Snoopy really didn’t even want to get up from bed. By Sunday, Dan had to carry him outside whenever we needed to get him out. He could not stand on his own. His front legs just weren’t working.
When we took him in on Monday to get a sedated radio graph, the results came back showing he had very bad arthritis all along his spine. Calcification’s were present. Spondylosis. Snoopy could not stand or walk on his own that morning, and for the next week and half he needed to be carried carefully whenever he had to go out. He was put on a plethora of medications (doggy morphine, nerve pain relievers, muscle relaxers) and also taken off the original anti-inflammatory. We needed to introduce a waiting period to clear that out of his system before he received a new drug that would be more intense.
It was really tough that week. I cried A LOT. My pregnancy hormones were out of control. I hadn’t cried this whole pregnancy until this began. Snoopy had been my fur baby since before I had even met my husband. He’s been by my side since 2007. We weren’t sure if he was going to get out of this struggle, if he’d gain strength in his front legs again. The vet even mentioned if after this regime of drugs were introduced there wasn’t any improvement, we’d have to look at quality of life. I did not want to even think about letting go of Snoopy. He is an older dog at 10, but he isn’t even at the Beagle life expectancy of 12-15. We can’t put him down….
The week of June 12th he began his new anti-inflammatory steroid. 3 pills each morning. He also started going to acupuncture on June 10th and would be heading to it 3 times during this very week, with the hopes that improvement would mean visits less often (we have to drive to Calgary to get this done). Then, on Tuesday, what seemed to be a miracle occurred—he sat and stood up on his own. I am so glad Dan saw it happen, because if I had told him it h would have thought I was lying. He was wobbly as hell, and his front legs kept buckling, but something changed in his nerves that he was able to feel his paws again.
His walking reminded me of a baby giraffe. For about a week, he figured out how to move again, taking steps gingerly. We still lifted him onto the couch, bed, car…and we built a gate so he couldn’t get up the stairs to the patio. He continued the steroid and a daily glucosomine tablet, along with acupuncture. He tapered his steroid down to 1.5 pills every other day, with a new smaller dose presumably coming next week. He has been to acupuncture 9 times, and does not need to go back until the first week of August. He appears to be back at nearly 100% (we can also judge this based on the fact that he stole a chicken bone off Dan’s dinner plate, knocked over the garbage in the guest room, ate one of my leather shoes in the closet, and chewed apart the cardboard box that cloth diapers were stored in. Basically, if he’s an asshole we know he’s feeling pretty damn good).
So is Snoopy cured? Sadly, we know he is not. The arthritis is still there. However, he is functioning, comfortable, and HAPPY. We know the arthritis will not go away, much like it doesn’t in humans. But with pain management, we hope to keep him happy for as many more weeks, months and years as possible. We know he is on ‘borrowed time’ now, and that’s scary. But, in a way, we both agree it’s good this happened now so we could get ourselves prepared for the tough decisions we may have to make down the road. We just hope that road is a long ways away. We really want Snoopy to be around when our baby is born this fall—we know how great he is with kids and having him with our baby will mean the world to us.