He’s maybe 9, no longer a young dog. So you might say: he’s had good years, aging happens. I’d agree – but. He only had 3 “good years.”
Leo spent 5 years of his life in a cage, not running, probably not even walking much. When he came to us, he had trouble climbing a step. At first, he just didn’t know what to do, he’d clearly never seen steps before. But even when he figured out how, he didn’t have the strength in his legs to do it. He gained strength. He loves to run fast, climb hills and dance.
He’d been a breeding dog in a Georgia puppy mill. That’s why I don’t know his exact age. I know from the record that came with him that he’d been purchased December 12, 2003. He was at least 6 months at that time, I figure. I doubt they get them until they’re of breeding age. Why feed unproductive mouths?
He got out in September 2008 via a rescue group and came to Canada. He and his Labradoodle cellmates were not seized in a raid that closed the puppy mill. The rescue group bought them. They were old breeding stock, used up, and young dogs who hadn’t sold. No one put the miller out of business, he just got cash to buy new stock. I know it was a man, white-haired. They’re the only people that Leo was truly scared of when he came to us.
So his joint degeneration makes me angry, angry at that white-haired man in Georgia and all puppy mill operators. They use up animals’ God-given vitality without care about what quality of life those generations of dogs will have. They abuse animals in order to make themselves “a living.”
Joint degeneration ends agility
The note on Leo’s rescue assessment says he’s “a really nice friendly boy. He would do great for agility or obedience.” He loves agility. I took him to a horse show once and he jumped the low bars set up for kids and ponies.
Now he eats ‘joint health’ kibble with glucosamine and omega fatty acids. He takes anti-inflammatory and pain pills. The medications are his for life, as worry is mine when he slips or limps. I hope only to avoid surgery. He can still run, his doctor says, just don’t overdo it, watch for signs of pain. Get in the habit of nice walks.
Puppy mill or not, he might develop arthritis at his age. My other dogs did. But they had more than three years of healthy freedom before bone and joint degeneration afflicted them.
Here’s a simple thing I did: put his dishes in flowerpots. The higher one is for Leo’s food so he doesn’t have to lean down, thereby avoiding strain on his joints. The lower one is for water that he shares with smaller pets. Here are more good hints for arthritic dogs.
Country Club for Pets in London ON set up the agility course that Leo tried near Port Stanley at Moore Water Gardens. Since I posted this (St. Thomas Dog Blog Dec. 30/11), Leo’s arthritis has worsened but he still gets around. We tried laser therapy but his condition is too bad for it to help. For younger animals or less severe arthritis, it’s well worth a try.