I saw this article a while ago and meant to blog about it. Then I found myself distracted (as is my wont). But this picture reminded that I’d started a post around having a pet with AS. So I’d like to cover it still.
Pets in general are a good thing for lots of people with chronic illnesses. They give you a reason to drag yourself out of bed. The bonds between a pet and owner are pure love. And who would let someone or something they love unconditionally starve or be surrounded by their own waste for any length of time?
I know that there are some conditions that wouldn’t allow the owner to be aware of this. That’s why I said most illnesses. But AS and a lot of other autoimmune and arthritic family diseases have symptoms that are alleviated or improved with exercise. But believe me, it’s difficult to remember that when it feels like someone poured superglue through your skeleton overnight, your fingers and toes are tingling and there’s a sharp constant pain across your chest.
During the week I have work, I’m the only person who does my job so I know that I have to go in. If not then my work doesn’t get done and I’ll have more to do when I get back. At the weekend I don’t have that imperative.
But I often have a Cassie. Cassie is my partner’s son’s dog and we sometimes look after her at the weekend. She’s 4 now and we’ve had her since she was tiny. She’s also amazingly bright and her mood matches ours perfectly. If I’m having a good day then she’s playful and bouncy. If I’m achy then she’s more reserved and quiet. She’s also had a difficult time of it, starting with seizures as a pup, through two torn cruciate ligaments, broken legs and about 3 or 4 operations. She now has early onset osteoarthritis.
That was fun when going to the vets. They diagnosed arthritis and provided standard anti inflammatories. But when we went down we used my experience with AS to ask more directed questions (osteo or autoimmune? Can we get hydrotherapy for her? Is there an equivalent of COX-2 inhibitors for dogs?) the vet was really nice and seemed to appreciate that we had some background.
Cassie’s doing well, she still bounces and plays, still enjoys her walks and still has the patience of a saint. She never complains (and I know from first hand experience that she has every right to). But she needs a bit more rest after her walks now, and can’t go quite as far as she used to. We have to remember that because she seems to forget when we go out!
The thing is, she’s an amazing addition to our house. When my partner’s son brought her home I was annoyed – could we as a family support a dog? All 4 of us work, could we give her the love and attention that she needed and deserved? Now the questions are different, could we live without her? Could we cope without the love and attention that she gives us? And the question that I ask myself, would I be as well as I am without her? The answer to the first question is obviously a yes. And to the second set? A resounding No.
So fellow Ankylosaurs, if you are considering getting a pet, I can only recommend it, unconditional love and acceptance – even if your condition has twisted and bent you, along with an excuse to keep moving? Win/win!