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Hello,

was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. am severely attached to my 8 year old husky X. who is still the most wildly energetic & deceptively strong (not to mention undyingly stubborn) 50 lb dog in the world. we've been inseparable since the day i brought him home @ age 3 months. his companionship (has) literally changed my life. now being told that i have this chronic, possibly disabling disease, am scared i'll reach a point where i'll have a really difficult time walking him (just to relieve himself. a huge downgrade from our usual 2-3 hr a day walks). the thought of giving him up makes me sick, he's the only thing that makes me happy in this world (no friends - ihave serious social anxiety and other mental issues - he's truly therapeutic for me. family lives way out of town.).
in a back bachelor apartment with no backyard (just a driveway).
my fingers/wrists are the worst so far - - - so any recommendations on a special leash i can use to walk him in the meantime?
if i end up in a scooter, any recommendations there?
on a limited budget, so a dog-walker is out of my range (i think?)
the thought of losing him is worse than the reality of this disease. that's how much i love him.

thank you.
 

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Hang in there. There's still tons you can do with your dog. The only bottom line to exercising your dog IMO is that you can commit to (and enjoy) spending a few hours a day doing stuff with your dog. That is without question the number one thing that prevents people from exercising their dog. To this day I still don't get why people buy dogs for companionship and then don't find the time do actually spend time caring for them. :confused::confused::confused:

If your hands and fingers bother you, a waist leash might be of a lot of use to you. My hands-down favorite is the Beyond Control Leash: Beyond Control Leash

Super durable, versatile, and guaranteed for life. I like that you can convert it to a regular leash or a tether, and adjust the length. It is also machine-washable.

If he pulls, any sort of harness where the leash clips onto the front can be a huge help.

If you have mobility problems, a long leash (either a 30' training lead, a lunge line, or a 20' flexi) allows your dog to wander around a large radius and sniff and explore.

If you are limited to the house during bad days, there are a ton of things you can do indoors with your dog, so long as you have the time, that will occupy him mentally and tire him out: puzzle toys, training games, play with a flirt pole, obedience or trick training, going for a car ride, taking "field trips" to the pet store, a hardware store or the vet... I could go on and on.

Don't get down on yourself. Like I said, where there is a will, there is a billion ways to exercise your dog. What matters is that unlike so many people, you are willing to find the few hours every day to pay your dog back with all the company, enrichment and exercise that they give to you. :thumbsup:
 

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Dog parks could be helpful too, so that way you can sit while he runs to his heart's content. I definitely also recommend a waist leash to keep the strain off of your fingers and wrists. If leash clasps are difficult for you to manipulate, you could switch to a martingale collar you can slip over the dog's head so that way you don't have to mess with attaching a leash. You can just leave the collar attached to the leash.

There are definitely things you can do to make it easier
 

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I'm sorry to hear you are have arthritis, and I hope that with a little training that you could probably do yourself with your dog, that you won't have to think about re-homing him.

There are some links in the training forum here that can teach you how to teach your dog to walk on a leash the dog without pulling on it. If you start now, you can probably get your dog trained to not pull on your hurting hands and wrist. If your arthritis progress, in the years to come, having your dog under control will be a huge benefit.

You could also teach him a few other things that might help you out down the road, like to get things on the floor and bring them to you such as your pair of shoes, or maybe a piece of mail if you dropped it, or even it's own leash.

If clipping a leash to the collar becomes too much - I know sometimes those clips are hard to work when one's fingers are injured... You could always have a collar with the leash already on it that you could slip over his head then run the leash under his existing collar so he can't easily slip the looser collar off because his regular collar is also involved in keeping the leash and looser collar on him. Once home you just take the looser collar off by slipping it over his head and the leash should just pull out from under the regular collar with a gentle tug. I did it like that once when I had surgery on my hands and my fingers had a hard time with the clips for weeks afterwards.

Even a thick headed dog can learn stuff...and clicker training methods that are shown in the videos that I've seen appears to be something almost anyone can do on their own...one can even use their tongue to make the click if the fingers can't do it using a clicker. Teaching your dog to walk without pulling might be a little time consuming at the start....but well worth it a little later.

When the time comes that you might be in need of motorized transport, I have seen others in various types of mobility chairs that have walked their dogs without having to hold on to the leashes. One gal here in my town puts the seat belt through the leash's loop then buckles up and her dog walks along side her.

I hope you do look into the leash training here and you can find the time to work with your dog and that your arthritis doesn't progress very rapidly. I am disabled due to back issues...and it's frustrating at times in not being able to do things that were once so easy to do...but finding ways to work around the problem can be done. For instance, I can't lift 40 pounds of dog food out of the car like I use to do, and if I can't get help to do it, I can take a bucket out, open the bag and scoop some of the dog food into the bucket and carry in 10 pounds at a time and dump it in a plastic container I have just for the dog food. It means more trips but I can also sit down for a half hour and ease my back between trips to the car if I wish and eventually I will get that 40 pounds of dog food into the house.

Hopefully you will be able to find some work around things to help you out too. There are probably some arthritis forums out there that have a lot of ways that can make doing things a little less painful.

Stormy
 

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If it hasn't been suggested, a flirt pole is great exercise and it's also great for teaching impulse control.
 

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Hi , Sorry to hear you have been diagnosed with RA.
I was diagnosed with this over 20 years ago. There are now meds that can help keep it under control such as Enbrel and I hope they will be available for you as they are effective.
Best wishes Alison
 

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Discussion Starter #7
wow, thanks for all of the responses. i'll look into the Beyond Control leash & the flirt pole. & definitely invest time right now in trying to train him.

...we walk up to 4 hours a day sometimes (to note, i don't drive). 2 hours minimum. & this doesn't include the three times around the block to relieve himself. it's become like our religion, ha. he's so used to the routine (*we're* so used to it - it's the best part of my day). But really, my big worry is just being able to take him around the block to relieve himself *if* things were to get bad enough (i.e. - mobility and grip loss) - that's the real concern. inside the house, i'll do all i can to keep him busy. *if*...i kind of had a moment of panic/despair. one day @ a time.

dibby, i appreciate the warmth (back at you). Etanercept was mentioned by my rheum as a possible option if other drugs don't work. The side effects of these drugs scare me more than the disease itself, to be honest.

anyway, thanks again.

you guys are great :)
 
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