Winston is our almost 10 year-old yellow Labrador. My husband and I picked him up in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Fergus Falls, MN. The owner of the pups lived in Alexandria, MN and we were in Fargo at the time so this was the halfway meeting point for us. I can’t say I was thrilled that my boyfriend (at the time) was getting a big, yellow dog. At that point we had only been dating for 1 short year and I didn’t really feel I had a say in the situation. He is a big hunter and wanted a hunting dog. During the hour drive back to Fargo, Winston barely made a peep and slept on my lap. He was adorable. Of course.
As the dog quickly grew, so did our relationship. Both mine and my (now) husband’s and mine and Winston’s. I quickly fell in love with Winston and he became my protector. To this day, if my husband hugs or tickles me or anything, Winston barks at him. I find it hilarious. He’s my protector.
He has the most kind and understanding eyes. He also has super expressive eyebrows and he smiles. I am not kidding you when I say this dog smiles. He smiles when we first get home, it looks almost like a snarl but he is just such a happy dog. And boy oh boy, can he get on my nerves. He is constantly in my way, especially in the kitchen. But he’s the first to greet me and take away the stress of a long day.
We’ve noticed he has slowed down and takes longer to recover from a hunting trip. His fur is becoming more white than yellow, especially on his face. He has numerous tumors growing on his bumpy body. But one weekend recently a switch seemed to have flipped. While he has struggled with stairs a bit before, this particular weekend we had to help him up and down the stairs, he was crying in pain, couldn’t jump onto the bed and just looked sad and beat down. We made an appointment at the vet. We didn’t really learn anything new other than his hips have already deteriorated quite badly. This is a common trait in the breed, but I thought it would come later in his life. He has lost muscle mass and his front shoulders are also becoming affected. We were given a few options – a $5k+ hip replacement surgery in Minneapolis, steroid pills or Adequan injections.
We decided to go with the injection shots. They are supposed to help prevent the cartilage in his hips from wearing away, keeping it healthy. He has to be given a shot with a needle into the thickest part of his muscle on his hind legs. It seems to be helping him and he is going up and down stairs better for the most part. He still has bad days and we also give him aspirin and glucosamine pills daily. The shots are a bit spendy to begin with but obviously, our buddy is worth the money and we need to try to make him feel better and more comfortable. Our vet was so kind with us and answered all our questions. It could work for years for Winston or it could quit working anytime. To administer the shot, my husband gives it to him while I am up by his head with a spoonful of peanut butter – he doesn’t even flinch!
I wanted to share the update because I honestly thought at one point we’d be saying goodbye forever to him. I hope he has at least one more hunt in him and a lot of time to play this summer. He still wants to do everything he usually did but when we go on our adventures, we will have to leave him home as he just wears himself out. My husband has to lift him into the truck and at 90lbs. that is a feat itself.
So many of our friends have asked and inquired and cared about Winston. He means so much to our family and I hope to see him get better with these shots. After all, look how happy he is to see us – and this was even at the vet’s office. He loves to go visit ANY people. Love you, W!