Archive for the ‘Walking The Dog’ Category
This is an amazing photograph. I’m not claiming any great skill, it was just a smartphone point-and-click but the story behind it is extraordinary.
It looks like a cold winter’s day with frost glistening across the fields, doesn’t it? In fact, it was muggy and warm and what looks like frost is actually reflections from a heavy dew lying on spider webs at the head of every dead thistle and nettle. Look closely and you can see there are spider webs all over the grass as well. That’s all across this 15 acre field – and the next one and the one to the west, the east, north and south. If I turn around I can see right across the Dorset plain up towards Yeovil and there are spider webs covering every square inch of every field and every hedgerow.
If we could work out the rate at which spiders weave their webs, so many inches per hour, we could probably calculate how many spiders there are per acre and how many spiders per square mile.
How many spiders are there in the world? The only remaining question is would that number be more or less than a gazillion?
Capone Stanley Reynolds, to give him his full name, has been my faithful, handsome and sweet-natured companion since 2007. He really is a lovely dog, a strong silent type, very self-contained, gentle, calm and, I believe, wise.
Sadly, he developed epilepsy around the age of five and a couple of years later was struck with severe arthritis which means for the last three years or so he hasn’t been able to walk with me as he used to. However, regular use of CBD oil has transformed his life and I think we will have several more years together before he goes to that neverending walk in the sky where he will be able to run and play as he did when he was younger.
He’s a cross between a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a German Shorthaired Pointer – which is where he gets his gorgeous coat from, a mottled mixture of grey, black, white and a few touches of orange. I believe that, apart from his siblings, he is unique and he attracts a great deal of attention. People say he looks like a leopard and several times I have been offered large sums of money for him.
We have walked hundreds of miles together. He first came to live with me when I lived in Emsworth, Hampshire. We learned the pleasure of walking together around Chichester Harbour and I had an article about our adventures published in Country Walking magazine.
I had once before, in the late 70s, seen someone fall down on a zebra crossing while having an epileptic fit. Nothing prepares you though for when someone you love first endures a seizure. It is frightening and deeply distressing. I can only despair at what it must be like for a parent whose small child suffers so.
Quickly though, you become used to it. You have to, for your own sake and so that you can look after the one who is fitting. In fact, there’s not a lot you can do, except protect them from hurting themselves while thrashing about. Every seizure is different but for Capone they all start with the most intense rigidity, arched back, teeth clenched and violent shaking. Then, after a minute or so, he will appear to relax and his legs will start a frantic bicycling motion while he froths at the mouth and usually loses control of his bladder, weeing everywhere. Occasionally he will go back into the rigid phase but at some point, usually within three or four minutes, he will jump slightly as if he’s just woken up – and indeed he has. Then he wants to stand up, although he doesn’t have proper control of his legs and he will fall over or walk into the wall or furniture. For up to an hour afterwards he will be wide-eyed, panting crazily and usually ravenously hungry. Gradually he calms down, until at last he sleeps, exhausted.
Capone’s seizures come in clusters over a 36 to 48 hour period. To begin with it was about every three hours, so it’s utterly draining, all through the night, never more than an hour or two’s sleep before the next one starts. When at last it comes to an end, it takes three or four days for him to recover. It’s almost like he’s had a stroke and he seems stupid, off balance and doesn’t really seem to know where he is. Thankfully, he always has recovered, right back to normal again and a week later it’s all forgotten.
I can’t remember the exact sequence of events now but it was around this time that the story of Charlotte Figi became known, the remarkable effect of CBD oil on this small child with Dravet’s Syndrome, a severe form of paediatric epilepsy. It wasn’t long before I decided to try Capone on CBD.
His arthritis had also dramatically worsened by now. We went from walking five miles every day to the point where it was taking the same amount of time for him just to walk half a mile or so. Both I and my other dog, Carla, were frustrated and suffering from a lack of exercise. Eventually I had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave him at home and just Carla and I would go for a walk. With a lack of exercise he began to put on weight and it became a vicious circle. About three years ago it had reached the stage where he couldn’t walk more than about 20 yards and I feared I would have to make the toughest decision of all. In this state, when a cluster of seizures came along, he truly was a pathetic sight, my wonderful, beautiful dog and friend in so much distress and pain.
I tried various CBD products. I didn’t really know what I was doing and they didn’t seem to have much impact. But then, nothing did. The best the vet could offer was rectal tubes of diazepam, like a small toothpaste tube with a nozzle that you stick up his bum and squeeze. They had no impact at all. I have given him 30mg of diazepam while he was fitting (enough to lay me flat out for 24 hours) and it’s made absolutely no difference. But then neither did CBD. There was none of this immediate effect like you see on the many YouTube videos of children being dosed with CBD oil.
Gradually though the frequency and intensity of his seizures started to diminish. I had settled on using PlusCBD Gold oil. Two grams of this dissolved in olive or hempseed oil contains about 500mg of CBD and that would last for a month or so, giving him a dropper full every morning with his breakfast.
He was walking better. On a good day he could now manage a couple of hundred yards. In the summer he was able to do his very favourite thing and walk up the garden into full, unshaded sunlight and spend most of the day there sleeping on the lawn. The seizures seemed to have stopped.
Then, perhaps a year ago, I quadrupled his dose. I now use LoveHemp 20% oil which provides a full 2000mg of CBD. I dissolve this in olive or hempseed oil in a 50ml dropper bottle and he continues to get one dropper full every day.
In the past two years, Capone has had just one cluster of seizures. It took place over the same period but there were far fewer fits of much less intensity, perhaps seven or eight over 48 hours. He can walk a few hundred yards now. He’ll never be the vigorous, fast-running dog he once was but occasionally I take him for a slow walk now for half an hour or so. If he sees another dog he gets excited and gets up a rather ungainly and clumsy turn of pace – but it’s almost a run and he’s still Capone and I treasure every minute that we have together. CBD oil, or as it should be more accurately termed, low-THC whole plant cannabis extract, has saved his life.
Capone is only nine, going on 10 but I know that his time is approaching quickly, far too fast for me.
He saved me when I escaped London from a woman and a destructive lifestyle. We used to walk five miles every day – at least. Now he has to be encouraged every step, at best half a mile then I have to take him home and Carla and I go out again for exercise
He has a strong, stable, self-contained personality. He is loving, obedient but independent. He is my guide as much as I am his master.
He has severe arthritis in all four legs, particularly around the elbows but he also has some sort of spinal problem and you can see it clearly from the way he walks. For some months anti-inflammatories seemed to help but no longer. Now he is on 300mg gabapentin twice a day and there has been an improvement, without evident side effects.
He also developed epilepsy a few years ago and about every six months he has a cluster of about a dozen seizures over 24 – 36 hours.
I shall be by his side until the final moment and that will be a very difficult decision to make. As long as he is happy and enjoying life I will look after him. When he finally goes to that neverending walk in the sky his legs won’t ever hurt again, the sun will always shine and there will be deer and rabbits to chase around every corner.
This gate opens onto farmland and scrub stretching just half a mile from the Jurassic coast, up and over the Dorset ridgeway.
If you head due east, maybe a touch to the north, you can walk with your dog (or dogs) for five or six miles and never come across a building nor even a road.
Yet Weymouth and Portland Borough Council choose to threaten us with a £5000 fine for not having our dogs on a lead, or £1000 for allowing them to, ahem, shit (for want of a better word).
The path leads away from the main road through Sutton Poyntz and the signs can’t be directed at people coming towards the village because they’re impossible to see from that direction.
Half a mile further west it’s the same thing on Chalbury Rings, the bronze age hill fort, which is as remote as anywhere. In five years, walking there regularly, I might have bumped into someone else once, perhaps twice.
The nasty, dog-hating, money-wasting, officious ‘little Hitlers’ that devise and operate this policy are the very worst of Britain. Local government seems to be infested with them.
The early summer has made the valley explode into life. Read the latest instalment here.