A few months ago, we took Charlie to the vets, and after x-rays and blood tests, received the news that he has hip dysplasia in both hips - a diagnosis that will, sadly, heavily curtail all of his favourite activities.
Hip dysplasia is a (usually) genetic condition caused by the head of the femur not fitting snugly into the pelvic socket, causing additional, or abnormal, wear and tear on the joint as it moves. Border Collies are particularly prone to this condition, something I knew since before I got Charlie in the first place, and so it was not a huge surprise to me when we got the diagnosis. Charlie had been very stiff getting up in mornings, and after resting post-exercise, for quite some time when I took him into the vets, so it was always likely that this would be the root cause of his discomfort. Unfortunately, the dysplasia in Charlie affects both hips, which may complicate any future surgical corrections, although this is a long way off yet (I hope).
The vet prescribed Charlie joint medication (glucosamine) which he will take daily for the rest of his life - fortunately, he doesn’t mind having the tablets in his food and I’ve had no trouble getting him to take them. They also prescribed him additional painkillers to be given as and when he needs, although the glucosamine has had such a positive effect on him that this has been a sparse occurrence. He has also been bought an orthopaedic bed recently, which seems to have helped a lot with his hip stiffness in a morning. There is no cure for hip dysplasia, only management and eventual surgery, so trying to make him as comfortable as we can until that day comes is priority number one.
I touched briefly on our newfound limitations in the last post about Canicross, although fortunately, he has been given the green light to continue running for now (albeit heavily monitored), which was honestly a massive relief to me - I could not imagine a life of running where Charlie could not be by my side.
One thing I have explicitly noticed, however, is that chasing his ball in the park generally gives him the worst pain post-exercise, due to all of the sharp twists and turns and the hard braking when he catches a ball. This is bad news for Charlie, as his ball is possibly his favourite thing in the world (I want to say tied with running, but I might be being too hopeful there). I can’t ban him from his ball forever, it would be far too cruel to him in my opinion, but he is now limited to once a week (with heavy monitoring as to his pain and discomfort).
Right now, I don’t really know what the timeframes or prognosis looks like for Charlie. I do know that his condition will deteriorate, that is unavoidable, but managing that is something that I am focusing on for now. He is due to go to the vets again in the next couple of months for a follow-up on his condition, and hopefully that will give us a clearer picture on what we can do together. For now, I am continuing to keep an eye on him, and figure out what causes him the most and least distress, and trying to manage what we do together so that he can be as pain-free as possible. I would love for us to continue forever as we were, playing in the park, racing and running together, but those times have passed; or at least, they’re no longer as carefree as they once were. Now, it’s trying to keep him as happy as I can without a tennis ball in his mouth.