Hello there! My name is Andy, and this is my most rambuntious and ancient boston terrier, Oscar. As of this writing, Oscar is 14 years and 8 months old, and still as stubborn as the day he was born. For the record, that's really old for a Boston Terrier!
After living a very active and acrobatic life for 12 years, in April of 2011, the Oscarmonster started staying up late at night, whimpering and rubbing his lower back on things around the house. As this behavior became a nightly occurrence (and I lost weeks' worth of sleep), we ended up at the vet's office with a diagnosis of severe arthritis and spondylosis of the spine.
Whereas many dogs are known to keep their aches and pains to themselves, The Oscarmonster will wake me up out of a dead sleep if he finds a single solitary flea on his private area. He is a Boston Terrier, thus one of his limitations is that he is unable to reach his "down there". His solution: Wake up Mom to remove the unwelcomed inhabitant.
Oscar's precocious nature is probably why his problem was discovered when he was 12 and not 14, but this allowed me to start intervention early. And I believe this a big part of why he is still walking.
Old people have arthritis right? That's no big deal, right? Well it depends. For many heartbroken pet owners, it becomes the most serious problem they must face. As their life-long companions lose the ability to walk (and perhaps ability to control their bladder), a decision has to be made. Too often the decision means animals are euthanized due to mobility issues rather than old age or true life-threatening illnesses.
For some, they have no choice. I understand the therapies I have used can be (but often are not) expensive and not everyone lives in a metropolitan area with speciality vets. But this is a new time in Veterinary Medicine! America LOVES dogs! And whereas 20 years ago a vet would have often suggested putting an animal down when they started having trouble walking, now there are many options for restoring and retaining your dog's mobility!
When Oscar was diagnosed, I wished and prayed that I would find a way for my "old man" to have the chance to actually grow old and pass peacefully of old age or something medically out of my control. My BIGGEST fear was to have to decide to put down an otherwise happy and healthy dog just because he could no longer walk.
And after 2 years of working on keeping my Monster mobile, I can say:
THERE IS HOPE.One vet once told me that their goal was to never have to "put down" a dog due to orthopedic problems, and she is doing amazing work at this. When some other vets are wanting to "call it" on an animal that still exudes life, there are many now that say "Let's try this...." My advice: find one of the "let's try this..." vets.
There is TONS of it!
Through a series of life adjustments (for me too) and non-invasive treatments, I have been able to keep Oscar on his feet and generally out of pain without submitting to invasive spinal surgery. I have spent a small fortune, something I know is not possible for everyone. I don't have kids, I have some minor debt. But I also have my Oscarmonster. There are many options that you can do yourself with small investments.
For the most part, I speak to non-invasive therapies. This does not mean I am anti-surgery. Some ailments require surgery. But I want to also be a voice that says it is rarely the only option. I am not a vet. But clearly for very old dogs surgery and recovery pose much more stress than in their younger counterparts. Be informed and find a vet that offers many options for your baby.
It's been a long and often stressful road, but anything that keeps my baby healthy and happy has been worth it to me.
I hope to share with you what I have found, to give you some support and most of all HOPE!
I wish for you and your dog ALL THE BEST!
The Oscarmonster in his younger, more acrobatic days: