Ashok really never recovered from our winter hiatus this year. Last summer she ran with me (at least once up to 7 miles) and seemed to do fine. I walked her some in the winter once the ice started accumulating but not nearly as consistently as in the warmer months. I got my exercise at the gym with with yoga, and doggies aren’t allowed. She just never bounced back to running this year, and, frankly neither did I.
Lately she started “missing” when jumping into the car, and she started yelping a little with one of her front legs. We’ve been walking a good bit and she’s not limping but something was obviously off. Sheepishly she’d look at the sofa and then skulk into her kennel. I got some pet steps, but she did not want to use that. “Steps?” her body language told me. “That’s for old dogs. I’m not going down that easy.”
I took her to my vet and asked if they thought she had arthritis. My vet looked at her and said she might be older than 10. NOOOOOOO. I wanted to scream. She is younger than 10. She’s actually 2 going on 3. But I know that I really don’t know how old she is as she was full-grown and a rescue. She could be 28 for all I know. She estimated her to be 12.
I’ve been trying to slow down time. In that moment the clock fast-forwarded another two years. That’s two years of hiking and camping and swimming in Lake Michigan gone. G… O…N…E. Two years of hugs and healthy activity evaporated in one second. I asked her if it was over. Was this the downhill slide of which she would never return? She assured me that the goal was to keep her happy and active as long as we could. She did not feel the descent into old age and a lifeless sleeping dog in the corner was in our foreseeable future.
Dr. Hall prescribed an anti-inflammatory, and I was encouraged to see a pick-up in her energy right away. So I started walking her at her speed two times a day and adjusted my workout schedule to include a Garmin-tracked 10,000 steps a day. She loved it. Our morning walk has become her happy time, and she’s expecting me to lace up my shoes as soon as she is fed. It’s actually good for me not to sit on my arse first thing in the morning, too. And day by day she’s gotten happier and more energetic. Last night she jumped into the car before I could even pick her up.
Pet acupuncture was the other remedy offered. My primary source of medical care is acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, so I was all in on that. I was curious how she would react to the needles. So this morning we visited Dr. Tulson at the Nickerson Animal Health Center. She tried a method of that utilizes B12 to speed up the process of moving energy with the needles, but Ashok was having none of it. So she switched to the typical needling I’m familiar with and after a yelp or two, Ashok settled into a very calm and happy state while the good doctor massaged some acupressure points and talked to her.
She says that Ashok has a “fire” constitution which is why she hates the heat. I have a “fire” constitution as well. No wonder the stay in Louisiana was so hard on us. We were already running hot, and the swamp-like climate made it even worse.
Acupuncture works to set the body back to its ideal state but it’s not immediate. Well, it could be immediate. But often it’s like training a puppy. You have to keep showing it where it needs to go several times before it sticks. Right now she’s happily sitting beside me as I write. We’ll see what happens. All I know is this morning was a very pleasant experience for both of us. If I can turn back that clock, dammit, I will.