Happy New Year! I enter this year filled with hope and excitement for my training adventures with Stella but also dreading the progression of things for Riley. Things never really improved for him after my post in September but we pretty much have stabilized into a new routine. The ataxia is a bit worse and a few more things still point to progressing neurological issues likely from scar tissue pressing on the spinal cord from his previous surgery.
He is a very difficult dog to read as doesn't present any obvious signs of pain and never "complains". We have primarily managed any pain in his life using holistic methods but he has been on an nsaid since summer. We are supporting his system with some supplements and slippery elm for his stomach. There were however some minor things like shifting a lot, groans while sleeping and some minor habit changes that led me to believe he was still uncomfortable. We recently added amantadine to his metacam and that seems to have made him a lot more comfortable and he is bouncing like a crazy puppy. Amantadine is a human anti-viral drug and often used in Parkinsons disease. It doesn't do a lot for dogs by itself but it helps boosts the effectiveness of other pain medications by resetting spinal cord receptors. He might feel better but he still has a limit of about 15-20 minutes on exercise before his body starts to rebel and his back end gets all wonky. He is a mind-over-matter dog and would just keep going and pay the price later so we do our best to control the activity levels. On leash would probably be best for him but I have opted to allow some off leash freedoms as long as he doesn't get to wound up and excited as he just gets SOOOOO much joy from it. I mostly walk him separately from Stella as he is less likely to do stupid stuff on his own. We continue to do regular chiro/accupuncture treatments and have also added some massage which seems helpful.
I realized at Christmas that I have never had a Santa pic taken with Riley and Stella so we went off to the mall for our visit and pic. Riley cracked me up because he desperately wanted the squeaky toy they were using to get the attention of the baby in front of us. Such a silly dog! We are enjoying life together, he is happy and makes me laugh so I can be happy if this is our new normal. Please keep good thoughts for us!