Tessa woke up the other morning listing. She’s like a ship that’s lost it’s ballast – leaning to one side, head cocked in what should be a cute sort of tilt. Only it’s not cute, not at all. She’s having a hard time negotiating stairs and any kind of uneven ground. She’s barrel rolled herself a few times going down the outside steps, and we’re not even taking a chance when it comes to the basement stairs.
The veterinarian isn’t 100% sure what the problem is. It’s not her ears – they’re fine, thankfully. Tessa has been spared the ear problems which plague so many French Bulldogs. She certainly has bad teeth – she always has. One or two of her back molars need to come out, and she’s on antibiotics to clear up any lingering infection before we tackle this. I’m hesitant about putting her under anesthetic for anything less than a life threatening condition, but bad teeth can cause all sorts of issues in a senior dog, and I guess we need to take the plunge and have them extracted.
Mostly, though, Dr. Boyd believes Tessa has had something commonly called “idiopathic neuropathy” – idiopathic being a fancy word “designating a disease having no known cause”, and neuropathy being “any diseased condition of the nervous system”. So, idiopathic neuropathy, meaning “We don’t know what it is, or what caused it, but it has something to with the nervous system”.
I’m consoling myself with the studies which seem to indicate that the majority of cases of idiopathic neuropathy just disappear, as mysteriously as they came. Already after a few short days, Tessa seems more steady on her feet. All of this, of course, is a symptom of the greater truth, that my dog is aging. And, like of all of us who are aging, she’s become plagued with mystery ailments. A hip that clicks, hearing that’s failing, a bit more wobbly on her pins that she was in her youth. I know it’s all to be expected, but none of it makes me happy.
Still, Tessa’s a remarkable healthy dog for both her breed and her age. Infirmity doesn’t stop her from occasionally charging and rolling the cat, or from staking out her claim when the puppies get too close to her pillow. She still rules the house, with a little bit of help from me when it’s called for.
She’s also looking forward to making it to the Nationals in Minnesota in 2008, as am I.