But a visit to the vet confirmed that the Miracle Drug was now causing even more problems internally and he could no longer take it. In its place, the vet prescribed a very strong painkiller (human type and addictive) and we waited to see how he would be.
Well, the first few days were not good. He was definitely pain-free, but 'spaced-out' and very confused; he varied from being hyper to suddenly dropping into a deep sleep - several times, I felt his body because he was so deeply asleep that I thought he had died.
But after those few days, he seemed to adjust to these chemicals racing round his system and became calmer and still pain-free, with bright eyes once again.
But I noticed that he was getting stiffer in his hindquarters; getting up and down the garden steps was becoming a problem and as time went on, he became unable to get up from the floor without help.
I gave him Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM in liquid form, to get into his system faster; he had a slow wander along the beach and thoroughly enjoyed it.
But last week, I saw that he was walking even more awkwardly - his front legs were stiffening as well. The arthritis had spread to his shoulders as well as his hips.
Another vet appointment, when I was told to try him on the previous medication again (the one that had made him poorly) once he had gone a month without it. It sounded bleak.
He has got progressively worse, so much that I daren't take him out because if he went down, I couldn't possibly lift him and get him back home.
So yesterday morning (Friday) I gave him a measured dose of the Miracle Drug; by teatime, he was effortlessly hopping down the garden steps to chase the squabbling starlings away from the bird feeder and resumed his 'on guard' position so that they wouldn't return.
This morning he had a second dose and is a different dog - no problems with getting up from the floor and blatantly asking to go for 'Walkies'. However, I am restricting what he does, to give those joints a chance to recover; on-lead walking only and limited, gentle play sessions.
I am watching him like a hawk for any signs of side-effects from the Miracle Drug and next week we shall see the vet again so that an alternative medication can be used to do the same job, but without such bad effects on his system.
In the meantime . . . . he has recovered his playfulness, naughtiness and sense of humour.
This morning he went and found his toy from Father Christmas - a rope-legged, fabric Cow with an obligatory squeak inside. This photo was taken when it was lightly played with and cuddled by Zac.
He dumped it on my lap, looking at me with that "Throw it!!! Throw it!!!" look on his face. But mindful of his delicate legs, I merely played a gentle game of Tug'O'War with him, letting him win it from me with very little effort, so as not to strain himself.
After a few minutes of this rather tame game, he took it off into the hall and lay quietly.
I really should have known better! The Cow is now decidedly DEAD! It has no legs, no ears and although there was a strangled 'squeak' still coming from its nether regions, I had to remove it, along with the rest of the debris, for fear of choking hazards.
So, on our way to the vet, I think I need to call into the petshop for a tougher version of a squeaky toy.
*** Woooo; just as I typed that, the Pet Shop Boys came on the radio singing, "It's a Sin". Weird or what? ***
Finally, how do you like these two presents I received (I'm very lucky!)
The cushion with Zac's photo on it was from a friend 'oop north' as my Secret Santa gift.
and this gorgeous print was my Christmas present from my best friends, B & L, who live in the village; we all walk our dogs together then go on for a nice lunch. B mounted and framed the print himself - isn't it lovely? It's a watercolour by Scottish artist Julie Poole.
I couldn't resist adding this photo of Zac, taken 2 years ago, in his 'Bah Humbug!' pose!!! He had ripped the wrapping off his present but then found it didn't squeak - not impressed at all.