Almost six years ago, Yoshi was diagnosed with spondylosis. At the time, one of my main worries was that Greg and I were going to eventually have to come to a decision to end Yoshi’s life based on how crippled he became. I was able to bury that worry for a number of years, as we were able to modify his exercise routine to keep him relatively pain free. We stopped retrieving with him and Greg stopped mountain biking with him. We were a bit sad about that, but it helped a lot and he’s remained pretty active. Pharmaceuticals helped as well.
This past fall we noticed he seemed to be getting sore again. We took him into the vet to get him checked out and decided to try another pain medication — one that has seen much success. Unfortunately it didn’t work for him, and we took him off it. He seemed okay for a bit but then started to decline more. We took him in again and when the vet examined him she found that his front legs seemed to be affected as well. Up until then it had just been his rear legs. This likely meant that his neck was involved, which would indicate further neurological issues, not just the spondylosis. She suggested prednisone. It seemed to be helping. One Sunday recently he and I were out for a walk in Mt. Doug Park and I came back and remarked to Greg how spry Yoshi had looked.
Then early last week we woke up to a whole lot of moaning, and Yoshi could not stand by himself. We helped him up and he was very shaky. We hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary in the previous days, so we weren’t sure what was going on. Another trip to the vet resulted in a theory that he’d actually hurt his neck somehow. The vet wanted us to keep him as immobile as possible, and she put him on two more pain meds. He had an x-ray on Friday which wasn’t all that conclusive, but it indicated that the problem was unlikely to be an injury but rather further degeneration of his spine. She showed me the films and his spine is a mess.
So…where does this leave us? We’re going to play around with the pain meds to see if we can get the pain under control. In the meantime he’s still being kept as quiet as possible in order to prevent him from injuring himself. He still has trouble getting up and down, but it’s a bit better. And once he’s up he can walk, but he isn’t all that stable, especially on a slippery surface (like our whole house).
The vet has taken him off one of the pain meds, a muscle relaxant, to see if it was maybe making him too wobbly. I will hopefully talk to her Friday about the next step, but I suspect it’s going to be upping the dose of the other pain med, Gabapentin. I’m crossing my fingers, and I’m more hopeful that I was last week as he seems a bit better, but when I look at him lying on his bed, eyes wide open, not moving, or when I hear him moan as he tries to get up, my heart wrenches.
How do you know when enough is enough? We aren’t at that point yet, but we can’t continue indefinitely like this. I want to ask him if this is okay…lying around all day and getting up only to pee. Is this better than the alternative?