During our summer adventures, I noticed that Dash was slow on our walks and hikes. So slow that I began to drop the leash on our walks in the neighborhood and he would end up a whole block behind us. Our favorite dog walker Sara called him “pokey” and it’s the perfect word. He reminded me of the little kindergarteners at school who walk really slow behind their classmates because that’s just their style. The problem for me was that walking slow isn’t Dash’s style. Or it hadn’t been until now. After hiking he limped a bit and climbing stairs were a true challenge. He seemed out of sorts.
Was it age? Was it wisdom–a little “let’s walk slowly and enjoy the smells” approach on his part? I wondered (and worried).
I received a card from our vet letting me know that now that Dash is 7 years old, a “senior dog” check up was a good idea. Excuse me? A senior dog check up? I thought. The boy is only 7!
But we went in — both of them needed vaccine updates anyway. And his exam was great. Our vet, Dr. Miller, loved his weight, his back was strong and his hips were solid; his heart sounded strong. But his elbows weren’t too good. In fact, she thought that she felt some swelling. Darn, I thought. I mentioned the pokiness and occasional limping. She said it could do with the elbow pain. She suggested Rimadyl. Okay, I thought. Then she suggested a blood test. Dr. Miller said setting a baseline at his age now would allow us to watch his health as he ages.
Two days later, Dr. Miller called and said Dash was in great shape, but his thyroid numbers were terribly low. That, she said, could be contributing to his walking pace. So, of course, another test was needed. We went back. Dash is such a good dog. He went right in for the test, came out and home we went knowing we had to wait a week for the results. A week later, Dr. Miller called and said “oh my gosh, his results are so striking. His body definitely wants thyroid supplements!” Diagnosing him with hypothyroidism, she prescribed a medication that is a thyroid supplement. He will have to stay on it for his lifetime. (I, of course, did my own googling and read all about it. Some folks have even seen a connection between ligament pain and hypothyroidism!)
It’s been four days. Only Four Days. But guess who is the leader of our morning walk? Guess who is prancing along next to his sister? Oh my word! My old Dash has returned. I can not wait to take him on a hike next weekend. I swear that today he looked at me and smiled. And I smiled, too!