Sometime, the answer is obvious. Like during state wide watering restrictions, when you learn that your neighbor is secretly watering her lawn every night anyway. Or when your teenaged son suddenly has a new iPhone, and a nice policeman is at the door. These are what is commonly known as no-brainers, where the options are only limited by the determination of your conscience.
In situations where the heart overrules the mind, common sense is out the window. This is the situation in which we now find ourselves. We can rationalize the easy way out, and competently convince the experts of the validity of our choices. Suddenly, price is no object, as we continue to agree to every test that is suggested, every possible medication that could at least buy us some quality time until we can man up and remove our emotions from the equation.
Peter is our much loved fourteen year old border collie. He still loves his twice daily walks, and will still chase his frisbee every time it is tossed for him. But this past weekend, he started to exhibit obvious signs of pain. For a dog that normally sleeps 18 out of 24 hours, his agitated panting and constant pacing was worrisome. We already knew that he has had slowly worsening arthritis in his back legs. He was prescribed an NSAID to deal with the inflammation a while ago, and until now, that seemed to be sufficient. Out of desperation, we gave him another half pill, which eventually calmed him down enough to lay down. Clearly a vet appointment was needed, to search out any other options for his problem.
We visited Dr Lawrence yesterday afternoon. She gave Pete the once over, then sat down to discuss his case. When we mentioned that his back legs would occasionally cross, tripping him up, she nodded.
“That is due to proprioception, where he is not fully certain as to where his feet are at any given time. This is what happens when the nerve impulses through the spinal cord are impeded by the degeneration of the spine itself due to age. ”
Okay, so what can be done? Her recommendations were to keep him physically active, to retain his ability to keep moving. In order to deal with his pain, a narcotic was added, so he is now on a small doze of morphine as well as his NSAID. He is now sleeping peacefully on the floor at our feet, having had his evening walk, his dinner, and half a dozen Milk Bones.
She warned us that morphine would possibly increase his appetite, but there wouldn’t be any other drawbacks. I sure hope not! He is still a happy, sociable dog that thoroughly enjoys his daily activities, at least he was until last weekend.
Are we doing the right thing? If this new drug helps him remain comfortable, allowing him to enjoy his life like he has done for fourteen years, I think that we’re okay. The next twenty-four to forty-eight hours will tell.