Today I’m feeling incredibly grateful. I have those moments fairly often, but today there’s an extra special moment with a golden touch, and it’s all about Jimmy’s walk.

Jimmy is a bit of an unlucky fellow who’s also had his share of luck. He’s a medium-sized dog, a mix of unrecognizable heritage. He’s twelve now, and has been living with my client Mirjam for two years. In his “previous life” with his former owner, he had the misfortune of his human falling seriously ill. He stayed with several different people for a while when his person was in hospital, but when it became clear that her illness was terminal, she made the brave decision to find Jimmy a really good new home while she was still alive. That turned out to be Mirjam’s home. And that’s where he struck gold.

He arrived with a few issues, like an allergy for which he was on a special diet. He also had the occasional limp, which brought Mirjam to me. Together, we looked into his diet, and I treated him  with chiropractic care and acupuncture regularly. That all went quite well for a while. In the past, he had some conventional pain relief from his regular vet, but Jimmy quickly developed stomach issues from it. The medication also made him quiet and withdrawn; so, the rimadyl was discontinued. Jones is on various supplements and herbs, which have helped him quite a bit so far.

In recent weeks, a few unpleasant things have happened. Jimmy was knocked over by an overly enthusiastic Golden Retriever, and he was bitten by another dog seemingly without reason. Jimmy’s vision isn’t what it used to be, and Mirjam and I suspect that’s why he missed signals from the other dog, leading to the attack. (See my blog “Need Glasses?“) Since these incidents, we haven’t been able to get Jimmy back on track. Mirjam has taken the course “The Gold in the Gray” and does what she can with fascia techniques that she has learned. And while these absolutely help in making the old boy more comfortable, he still remains withdrawn and much less tolerant of other dogs.

When Mirjam comes to me with Jimmy, she’s visibly upset. Quite understandably, because life for Jimmy isn’t enjoyable like this, and that needs to change. If we can’t increase his quality of life, me may need to start thinking about letting him go…  “I would have loved to have him with us for a few more years,” Mirjam says, tears welling up in her eyes. “Mirjam, he needs more pain relief!” She sighs and reminds me that didn’t go well in the past.

The group of commonly used pain relievers, like Rimadyl and Metacam, are called NSAIDs. This group consists of a large number of different types, each slightly different chemically. And because they’re all slightly different, it might be worth trying another one if one type doesn’t work.

I manage to convince Mirjam to try a different pain medication. From the module on osteoarthritis and pain in “The Gold in the Gray” Mirjam is quite aware of the importance of addressing Jimmy’s pain experience as quickly as possible. We decide use herbs to help his gastrointestinal tract, and we start cautiously.

I hear nothing from Mirjam for three weeks. I see this as a good sign because I’m sure she would have contacted me immediately if Jimmy had become nauseous again. And then I receive an email: “Today we walked for 20 minutes, and when we got home, he rolled on his back in the grass!!”  I give Mirjam a call, and she tells me how Jimmy – who refused to step outside the garden just three weeks ago – happily strolled and sniffed for a full twenty minutes, and felt so good upon returning home that he rolled on his back in the grass. What a difference! So far he has tolerated the medication quite well, especially in combination with the herbs, and he’s back to being his old cuddly self.

And that’s why I’m grateful. Grateful for dedicated people like Mirjam, with whom I can collaborate effectively on therapy. Grateful for a range of pain relief options, allowing us to fine-tune for an individual dog. Grateful for the opportunity to use both conventional medication and complementary methods, so the dog can have the best of both worlds. And most of all, incredibly grateful that a sweet old dog was able to enjoy a lovely stroll again.

* update: I wrote this text two months ago. Jimmy is still doing very well, he still tolerates the medication perfectly, and he can now walk for three quarters of an hour.