” …I am still a dog of the moment, seemingly incapable of self restraint. If there is a jump to be made, or a greyhound to be chased — I throw caution to the wind…”
A Fine Balance
Some time ago, I wrote a post about wanting to be a therapy dog. I wrote it before I re-injured my knees and before Mum learned that I had ripped my cruciate ligaments in both knees probably more than once in my previous life. Aiming to be a therapy dog was really just a way to measure the improvement of my temperament and address some behavioral issues I developed in my previous home. I still have those same goals, and another many of us could embrace: To enjoy life.
While I have been quite open about my battle with separation anxiety I have been less comfortable discussing my injured arthritic knees mainly because it was even more traumatic for me and those close to me than the separation anxiety; and we were just figuring out how to handle life. But now I can tell you what anyone who has lived with chronic pain can tell you: There is an intimate interplay between our physical, emotional and social well-being. To be effective at living a full life, we must manage them in concert. They are all aspects of the self. It is a fine balance, and the stakes are high.
If I overdo it at the park, I have to stop going for a while and my physical and social needs become harder to fulfill. Less exercise can lead to increased inflammation and pain which leads to a grouchy dog who has a harder time exploiting opportunities to be social and to maintain his physical strength which can lead to further inflammation and pain and a grouchier dog… The cycle demands attention.
There is no doubt that the way I relate socially with humans and dogs is deeply affected by whether I am in pain. While I understand this in principle I am still a dog of the moment, seemingly incapable of self-restraint. If there is a jump to be made, or a greyhound to be chased — I throw caution to the wind. In these moments my power to self limit appears non-existent. I therefore have to rely heavily on Mum.
Here are some of the things we have done to manage my situation:
- Maintain my weight at about 77lbs (35kg).
- I take Glucosamine and Omega 3 fatty acid supplements with my food.
- I am on a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory called Metacam to manage my pain. (I write more about Metacam in an upcoming post).
- Mum gives me very gentle body massage to promote overall circulation.
- Dr. Gewarter treats me with acupuncture. He also stimulates my leg muscles with electricity.
Conditions on Activity
- No chasing young whippersnappers at thepark. Mum invokes my decent recall.
- I now play with the ball for short periods of time — and not every day either.
- The ball is lobbed slowly at me so I can catch it while I am running at a casual pace. This way I don’t have to break (hard on my knees).
- Balls are thrown only on flat ground.
- Balls are thrown along side me, so that I don’t have to jump to get them. No Chuck It or Frisbees either.
- Mum watches me like a hawk; she monitors my gate …at the first sign of a change, –I am back to walking on lead.
- Mum has discussed the importance of observing some guidelines of my activity with my dog walkers.
The long and the short of it is that I am working on managing my joint pain. This lets me do work on my overall temperament and the behavioural issues I have been carrying around from my previous home. I am doing what I can to live life to the fullest. But maybe above all I am simply enjoying all the things I have in my life. I am truly blessed… and Mum is a pretty kick ass retirement plan taboot! BOL . ♣