The Park As Good Medicine – Part 1

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know that:

  1. I have many types of chronic illness but I make the most out of life I can.
  2. I live with my hubby and our two goofy fur-kids, a dog named Violet and a black cat named Monkey!
  3. We recently moved to be closer to family and bought a condo across the street from a dog park.

I have found that more than the view from our balcony window, the dog park has become my lifeline for many reasons. Since part of my goal for this blog is to share what works for me to deal with chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety and other symptoms, I thought I would talk about why this location is so therapeutic.

Me handing out treats to (l to r) Violet, Daisy, Manny, & Winston!

The Old Lady of the Park

That title could very well be referring to me, but in this case, it is our 13-year-old mutt, Violet and it is meant with true respect and love.

We have only been living in our new place for two months, but Violet has made quite an impression at the off-leash dog park across the street with humans and fellow canines alike. And it is with very little effort on her part.

Our loveable mutt will walk around the inside of the fenced area a few laps with Hubby or me. She will even “jog” a little with him but I don’t go that speed! This is basically how we get her to do what she has to and also to tire her out a bit so she isn’t bugging us at home so much.

Other than that she likes to lay on the grass either at my feet or those of any one of her human friends. She will get up to go greet one of her canine friends at the gates or to say goodbye. She checks out the newbies and is there when any play looks like it will turn into a fight. In fact, one night Hubby had to call her off and leash her as two big dogs were going at it and she wanted to step in. She is definitely a peacemaker.

Like me, Violet has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. This has been expected as she

The park from Vi’s point of view

was showed signs of hip dysplasia when she was a pup. A few years later she had an x-ray which showed that her joint and socket were almost completely worn away on both back legs. She was basically held up by her strong muscles. However, after many years those muscles are starting to break down and no amount of pain medication can help build them back up. Or can it?

Violet has been getting cartrophen injections since just before we moved. She had one shot per week for four weeks, then once every two weeks three times, and now will have one every month. While these shots are not really building up muscle, what they are doing is amazing.

Violet is playing a little with other dogs, she is moving faster and just seems happier. I attribute it to the two things that happened simultaneously – the shots and the park. Both have given life back to my old girl. She seems happier to the point where she whines to go to the park and is very stubborn when it comes to not wanting to leave.

On Sunday we noticed that Vi had a huge pocket forming in her ear. It looked like it was filled with blood, and it was. We couldn’t get her to the vet until Monday afternoon (we had just been there on Saturday for her shot). Our suspicions of an ear infection came true. In fact, she has it in both ears. We need to address this problem before they will drain the ear because the problem was caused by her shaking her head from the infection and breaking small blood vessels in the ear. If the infection isn’t gone, it can just keep happening.

Everyone at the park yesterday was asking how she was doing and what the vet said. She was getting a ton of sympathetic attention, which of course she milked for all it was worth.

One regular at the park said the other day that Violet is the Old Lady and all the dogs respect that and treat her accordingly. All except the pups of course, and she puts them in their place pretty quick if she doesn’t want them bugging her.

Quite ironically, two of Vi’s “besties” are a little mop of brown fur named Daisy who nips at her ankles and runs circles around Violet trying to get her to play (which in itself is the play), and Thor, a huge white dog whose rare breed escapes me. There are others that she likes, but these two seem to be at the top of her friends list.

How has Violet’s “status” in the park helped my physical and mental issues? With all the attention on her, I can just be me – not the sick me or the pained me or even the depressed me. I am Violet’s Mom and for a few times a day that is a really great thing to be.




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