I took Jesse Lou Baggett to the veterinarian this morning. Yesterday, my neighbor, who walks the dogs for us when we are at work, called me at the office and reported that Jesse was falling down and could not walk very well on the hardwood floors. By the time I got home, he had improved a great deal but did seem a bit off kilter. Meanwhile, Mrs Vache Folle had scheduled an appointment with the vet.
Jesse has manifested problems with his hindquarters for several months now, and we have been giving him anti-inflammatories in the hope that he has arthritis rather than degenerative myelopathy (he has some shepherd in his ancestry). He also has had bouts of vestibulitis, and I suspected that he might have had the perfect storm of vestibular symptoms coupled with his weak hind legs.
Jesse hates riding in the car, especially the SUV, and has a hard time getting in and out of it and sitting still when it is moving. Jasper Stone, in contrast, lives for car rides, and I had to take him along for moral support. I had to lift Jesse into the car, which he hates. We arrived early at the vet's, so I walked the boys around the grounds for about 15 minutes, something they both love. There are so many new and strange smells for them to enjoy and so many unfamiliar trees to pee on. I think of this as the boys' "reading their pee-mail".
While we were waiting inside the veterinary hospital, a couple of other dogs came in, a min-pin and a golden retriever. This inspired Jasper to whine pitiably because he was not allowed to greet the other dogs and their owners. Jesse was likewise unhappy, but his intentions were not so honorable. He hates other dogs, except for Jasper and a couple of close friends he has made over the years. Given the opportunity, he might very well kill or severely injure a small dog or a cat even now in his golden years. I don't take any chances with him and warn others to keep their dogs away from him lest he start a fight. Anyway, it was a long five minutes in the waiting room with the boys' keen to get up close and personal with their conspecifics.
After an examination, Dr Christiansen agreed with me that Jesse exhibited lack of balance in his front legs as well as the back and that the onset of active vestibular disease could very well be the cause. We are supposed to take him off one of his meds, a side effect of which is sedation, to minimize any impacts on his coordination, and to substitute Metacam for it. He is also supposed to take Bonine, an over the counter motion sickness drug, to deal with the dizziness caused by vestibulitis. I hope we can nip this episode in the bud without going through the starvation and dehydration Jesse endured last time.
Jesse pooped on the vet while his temperature was being taken, and he pooped in the car on the way home. The poops were healthy looking but ill timed.
It is very difficult to see Jesse's decline with old age. He was always so vigorous and active. He was one of the fastest dogs I have ever known. Now he can barely walk. He can still get on the furniture, though, and he loves to sleep on the sofa. I hope we can keep him comfortable and happy for a long time yet.