I was originally going to title this post “A Happy Sight”, but our beagle Cricket is just not quite where we hoped she would be yet. Yes, she’s been carrying her ball around, and even playing just a little bit here and there, but she is still not completely back to her old high energy self, her arthritis still has her down.
She’s shown some improvement: she’s been barking more when I get home, and she’s been running around from time to time. When I got home from work last Friday, she went romping around the yard like a puppy and it just made me smile! But most activity like that is short lived. She’s still stumbling on the steps at times, and when I took her for just a short walk today, her legs were shaking when we got back.
I had taken her for a walk a week ago with the same results. But at that point, she had only been on a higher dose of meds for her arthritis for a couple of days. I thought some short walks might be good for her, but even a 10-minute one was too much. I decided to give it a week and try again, and that was yesterday but the results were about the same.
My gut feeling is that Cricket’s ball playing days are over, and that makes me sad. But honestly, I think I’m taking it harder than she is. She seems pretty happy otherwise, and I think the pain in her knees is probably worse some days than others.
After all, our vet said the bottom line was this: if Cricket were a human, she’d be looking at a double knee replacement. Her knees are that bad. It makes me feel like maybe we let her do too much over the last year, after her original diagnosis. But we let her do what she wanted to, and we want our dogs to be happy. Besides, that is what our vet advised: let her do what she wanted as long as it wasn’t bothering her. In typical Cricket fashion, she was fine one minute and suddenly stopped the next. This bad spell did not come on gradually. I think if she could talk, she’d tell us that she wouldn’t trade in this last year for anything. There’s always time to slow down, and that time is probably now for her.
I’m the one left at loose ends, trying to get the other dogs the exercise they need, when Cricket isn’t there to run the game. We’ve been playing fetch for the last 12 years with our little beagle, and once Luke joined the family almost 3 years ago, it’s been pretty much a daily activity. It’s a routine I was used to, and that I’m missing very much.
I’m still figuring out new routines, and I’ll fill you in on how I’m managing that another time. My biggest concern is that with Cricket’s activity level down, she’ll gain weight. That would be the worst thing for her arthritis. However, we know how to do this. After all, Cricket’s late beagle brother Kobi was pretty much a couch potato, but we always managed to keep him at a healthy weight.
To help keep Cricket occupied, I’ve started training her in the nose works that I’ve been doing with Luke. She’s not quite as adept at it as Luke, but she’s making progress. Since the class we were taking is over, we’re going more slowly, so she’s not getting quite as much practice as Luke did initially. But training means more treats, so we’ve got to factor that into the equation as well. The good thing for us is that Cricket, like Luke, doesn’t need super high value treats for training. I often use just kibble, interspersed with higher value treats. If anyone has favorite low calorie but tasty treats though, feel free to share in the comments what they are!
The most challenging thing about Cricket is that she only knows how to go two speeds: 100 miles per hour, or zero. So when I take her on those walks, I have to try to slow her down. If she hears a noise outside or sees a chippie, she goes tearing out the door slipping and sliding but not slowing down! The toughest thing for her seems to be stairs so there is one bright spot: thank goodness we moved to this new house, because our old house with tons of stairs would have been too much for her. At the most this house has three stairs in a row.
I said it before, as long as that tail of hers keeps wagging, I’ll know she’s happy:
Now, does anyone have any hints on how to slow her down when she’s feeling good? Maybe we should sedate her for a while (kidding, of course!)?