Thursday, February 2, 2012

When A Symptom Isn't What You'd Think

This is actually an old story which I meant to write up but somehow it never happened. It's a story about observable facts and their interpretation.

Observation and facts are one thing. What one makes of them, however, can be something else all together.

For the longest time we thought that Jasmine would get sore and tired towards the end of her walks. It was a reasonable assumption, given her age and all she's been through.

She would start dragging her feet, carry her head low, and sometimes even stop and just stare at us with a sheepish look.

What would you think?

We gave her the time she needed to get to the truck and felt bad that we made the walk longer than we should have.

To accommodate for her level of stamina we started making the walks a little shorter.

Cutting the walks shorter didn't seem to make much of a difference though. Towards the end she'd still look like she was in pain. Walking slower and slower, her entire body lowered.

We tried changing things around to no avail. Her vet and her physical therapist couldn't see anything wrong with her.

This went on for quite some time until a chance event put the whole situation in a new light.

That day I went along to spend a day at friends' horse farm. At the end of the day the guys always get a closing walk, after which it's time to go back home.

Surely enough, on the way back Jasmine started lagging behind and dragging her feet. “Don't worry, baby, we're almost there,” I was comforting her.

As it happened though, hubby remembered he wanted to show me something before we left. We walked up to the truck as usual, but this time we continued past it.

And then it happened. 

As Jasmine saw us walking past the truck her posture and attitude suddenly changed. She perked right up, carrying herself strongly with a little hop in her step.

Then it dawned on us. No wonder making her walks shorter was not helping!

She was not on her last legs! She just didn't want the walk to end yet! She was trying to negotiate! “I don't wanna go home yet, ma.”

This was about a year ago. She still does that every time we get to certain distance from the truck. But now we know better!

Jasmine now can go all day and still be interested in another adventure if the opportunity presents itself. But she will still drag her feet when the end of the walk is near. If nothing else she'll find some completely irresistible smell that needs investigating.

Making the last few yards takes almost as long as the rest of the walk. 

But not because she cannot go on any further. She doesn't want to go home yet!

The symptom we were so worried about meant the exact opposite of what we thought!

It makes us happy and it makes us laugh. And sometimes, just to treat her, we do go past the truck to give her the little extra she craves.

And we learned that correct interpretation of the facts is as important as their observation.

It's your dog's health,

Further reading:
Jasmine’s Story: Can Chronic Diarrhea and Soft Tissue Injuries be Normal?
Jasmine’s Story: An ACL Injury and a Cancer Scare
Jasmine’s Condition Deteriorates: Another ACL Injury and an Abdominal Abscess
Jasmine Recovers from Surgery and Jana Discovers TCVM
Who’s Minding Your Pet’s Health?
Pet Owner Perspective On Stem Cell Therapy
Difficult to Manage Lameness Treated with Physical Therapy
Our Journey to Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine

Related articles:
Meet Jasmine
I'm Still Standing! (Happy Birthday, Jasmine)
How Dogs Think (Well, Jasmine Anyway)
How The Oddysey Started: Jasmine's ACL Injury
Jasmine is Vet-Stem's poster child!
Rant About Quality Of Life Versus Quantity, And Differential Diagnoses
Jasmine Is Headed For Her Next Stem Cell Treatment
Jasmine's Stem Cells Are In
Arthritis? What Arthritis? 
Unconditional Love or Not?


  1. Great story. She must have made that little hop when she realized "they finally got it!". Smart dog :)

    1. She does such a hop when she's excited and happy :-) Gotta be hard to live with such dumb bipeds! LOL

  2. Oh, how funny! I was reading along thinking "Oh, that might be pain symptoms, I hope Jasmine is okay."

    1. I know, right? That's what we thought the whole time! Made perfect sense. But that's not what she was trying to say :-)

  3. Good detective work! I would have thought she was lethargic or in pain too!

    1. We weren't thinking lethargy; the only time Jasmine was somewhat lethargic was when she was literally staring death in the eye. She is a very spirited girl this one.

      We were however convinced that it was pain. Glad we were wrong! :-)