My worrying didn't pay off this time. Tika's got hip dysplasia.
I took her to the vet on Monday for her x-ray, and she was given a sedative and allowed to fall asleep (really just sleep, not put to sleep) on my lap on a couch off the main waiting room. It was really very sweet and cozy, and then the vet came in with an assistant to carry my sleeping 77lb dog into the x-ray room, and Tika's head popped up, eyes wide, ears all perky, and he said, "maybe a little more sedative then. . . "
It's discouraging, and sad, and we are bummed. On the other hand, our vet didn't ban Tika to a life of neighborhood walks and no ball-chasing. He acknowledged that she has been a very active dog, and that she won't be happy if she's not out running around with us in the woods and on the snow. He just encouraged us to back off on her miles--no more 40km weekend skis with Erik. But to be honest, we've been backing off those really long skis already, sensing that she was slowing down a little. We'll just back off even more.
And, we'll just watch how she does. . . monitor her for signs of increasing pain. I've got a call in to our trusted vet back in New Hampshire (Dr. Kim Jones at Stoneybrook Vets), just to see how she would treat Tika in this situation. That's one thing I'm discovering here: I feel like the medical and now veterinary care we've gotten here is good. . . but I always wonder "is this what we'd do in the US?" It's really hard to let go of what you know, what's familiar. Especially in times of stress.
She's been started on pain medication (a Cox-2 inhibitor, for those of you who are curious--Previcox), and we'll likely start a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement as well. There's a special "joint" food available, but in the past Tika hasn't tolerated a lot of messing with her diet. We're hoping she'll tolerate the food, as it would save us the money for the supplements. As it is, the pain pills are about $2 a day--in Norway and the US. Getting a stash sent to us from the US won't save us any money (already checked). In fact, it seems like it might be one of the few things thus far in Norway that's cheaper here than in the US. My dog's pain pills. Excellent.