Old Sydney’s back, thanks to modern science

Our dog, Sydney, is around 13 dog-years old.

He was having trouble walking and climbing up on things — our bed, for instance. He whimpered in the morning after he gingerly eased himself down from the bed and whined as he slowly step-by-stepped himself down the stairs. He wobbled to stand on his legs from his pillow, his default spot on the living room floor, when it was time to go outside.

Watching him trying to move his arthritic bones from place to place was as sorrowful for us as it was painful for him.

I called the veterinarian’s office. The girl on the phone told me she once had an old St. Bernard who suffered from achy hips, and the doctor gave him some medicine that helped. It seemed to me his rear legs were causing him his biggest problems. I assumed it was his hips because, well, because I am always hearing about people’s dogs and their hip problems (the dogs’, not the people’s). I decided to take Syd in and get him checked out.

The doctor suggested an X-ray, so that’s what we did. He showed me the results. (I like when doctors explain things. I also like that they see things on medical images I would never have noticed, and they point them out to me. “Oh, yeah,” I say. “Now I see it.”) He pointed out the arthritis that was in Sydney’s knees rather than his hips. He told me there was some medicine, Rimadyl, that could help.

His assistant, the one I spoke with on the phone, filled a bottle with 30 tablets right there in the office. That is another reason I like like vets — I usually don’t have to drive to the pharmacy to get the prescription they prescribe. He also suggested some “treats” that contain glucosamine and some other esoteric substances. Coincidentally, I myself have taken glucosamine for my achy knees on occasion.

I say on occasion. I take one prescription pill for my blood pressure, a low-dose aspirin because a heart doctor told me it couldn’t hurt and might help, plus a couple of vitamins. For some reason, though, I can’t seem to get into the habit of taking those particular pills.

I think part of it is because I have one of those plastic seven-day pill reminders and my four pills just barely fit in their daily slots. And I think part of it is I don’t want to move up to a larger pill container because in the past I associated multiple and/or large pill containers with old people. My pill container makes me remember that I am getting older. I get that, really, even though there lingers within me a remnant of resistance in accepting it.

I gave Syd his medicine and one of the treats on our ride home. In a very short time — maybe a day, maybe a little longer — Becky and I noticed a difference. He wasn’t whimpering in the morning when he jumped off the bed, nor did he whine coming down the stairs. He was obviously having an easier time getting up off his pillow and acted like he actually wanted to go outside with me.

He even made a good faith attempt at chasing a squirrel! It was and is like we have a new dog. Or maybe a better way to put it: an energetic old, familiar dog.

I realize all these pills, chemicals, treatments and treats are in a cosmic sense merely a temporary fix. But as long as they are available, why shouldn’t Syd and I do what we can to feel better for just a little while longer?

At any rate, I am thankful for the people who make such modern miracles possible. And I am thankful we have the old Sydney back.