Two years ago, I stated having a lot of pain in my knees and lower extremities when I moved around, I thought it was just a part of getting older. Yet, being active and doing the normal things I used to do on a daily basis with no problems, became more and more difficult. I finally had to go to the doctor and I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
One of those things I used to love doing was spending time with my Golden Retriever, Max. We used to go on long walks and spend many long hours together. Now I feel extremely guilty for not being able to take him on our long walks and I even have a hard time petting him and giving him the affection he needs. I really don’t want to get rid of him, because I love him and he has been in my life for so long, but I feel that he is not getting the love he deserves because of my disease. Is there any way I can use Max in my rehabilitation and still keep him in my life?
Elinor from Utah
Thank you for your question! Osteoarthritis can be very challenging to deal with, I know the pain, fatigue and stiffness can be draining, and it does requires you to modify the way you live your life. The most important thing to remember is respect the pain in your body! When you are having flare up make sure to stay off the joints that are in pain until they are feeling better, this will help protect your joints and keep the condition from getting worse.
I understand that you are feeling guilty about having to modify your lifestyle and alter your routine with your furry buddy Max. But rest assured Max loves you and he would be devastated without you. There are many ways to keep the both of you happy and healthy, and he will be just fine modifying his life to accommodate yours!
First of all, you don’t need to go out for a long walk every day, which will only irritate your joints and possibly cause flair up. Try breaking this up into 2 o3 shorter walks per week. Also if you are experiencing pain in your fingers, try using a leash with a built up handle that is easier to grab on to, or if you can slip the leash around your elbow or forearm to take the pressure off of your fingers.
Don’t worry about being able to shower Max with a lot of physical attention, he is happy by your side, trust me! You sound like you’ve been together for some time, and more than anything he wants you to be happy. Let him sit by you and put his head in your lap, even if you can’t vigorously scratch his ears he will still enjoy the contact. If you are concerned he is not getting enough play time, try taking him to a local dog park where he can work out some excess energy and you can relax.
As I said before, knowing your limits and not pushing your body is the key to keeping your condition managed. You may want to consider putting ol’ Max into some training classes that could greatly help you manage your daily tasks. Service dogs can be trained to retrieve dropped items or items from shelves, open doors, carry items, turn on lights and assisting with counter exchanges at banks and stores. Keep in mind that this process may take 1-2 years, so depending on your situation you will need to consider if this is the best option for you.
Osteoarthritis is a manageable condition, and there is no way you should have to go it alone without your best buddy by your side!