It’s a dog’s life…
The news from the BBC today that diabetes is responsible for some of the greatest yet most avoidable health problems in the UK is nagging at my conscience again. Diabetes and the horrendous complications that arise from it are now the greatest single cause of heart disease, blindness, amputations and gangrene, and treating this accounts for more than ten per cent of the NHS’s budget. Yet 80 per cent of these secondary horrors arise from Type 2 diabetes, a large proportion of which could be prevented by those old favourites, diet and exercise.
And if I don’t get moving, I could be heading down that slippery, sugar-sprinkled slope towards a stroke myself. Despite all my brave New Year resolutions, I have yet to don my so-called running shoes this year and hit the park with the dog, and it’s not gone unnoticed.
So thank you to those who have been inquiring after Doughnut, our 12 year-old retired racing greyhound. He has been conspicuously absent from these blogs since I rashly promised that we would be haring round our local park together in a bid to bring my fitness and waist size, closer to his waspy 12 inches. But the years of racing have taken its toll on his legs and during this cold weather he has been suffering from a spot of arthritis in his left shoulder and a bit of wobbliness round the hips.
Some days he would barely poke his elegant aquiline nose out of the door before looking longingly at his bed in front of the fireplace. I knew how he felt. Other days, the call of the park was too strong and he would manfully limp past the paper shop, the corner store and the school drawing sympathetic glances (to him) and tuts (directed at me) along the way until he spotted the gate to the park and began trotting like a dressage pony.
Over half term I left him in the loving care of my friend Liz, who apart from her many talents is a bit of a whizz in the kitchen. Not only did she take Doughnut in hand but she House Doctored our home – she’d had quite enough of my slatternly ways. I came home to a sparkling kitchen and a shiny Doughnut who, after three days of home-cooked lamb and rice, was almost back to his perky old self.
When we first got him, as a sprightly seven year old, he could literally outrun a car – and did on at least two occasions when he bolted through the front door and ran until he couldn’t run anymore. The first time he ran all night, and after chasing him until he was out of sight – all of 65 seconds – we phoned our friendly local police office, who despite being off duty sent out an SOS asking anyone he knew to keep an eye out. The next morning he was spotted, bleeding and limping in the middle of the road three miles away by a passing ambulance crew who put him in the front seat and drove him home. Another time he ran out of a friend’s house and crossed three lanes of the A13 as two police cars parked across the carriageway, sirens flashing, to prevent him hurting himself or anyone else.
But that was then. Nowadays, as an old boy he needs his prescribed anti-inflammatories and an injection to ease the stiffness in his shoulder. So if any of you out there have experience of greyhounds with muscle or joint problems brought on by a successful racing career, and have any advice about how we can get him back on track, do leave a comment below or get in touch via Twitter @AmandaAtCandis.