Sunday, July 01, 2012

Dachshund Down

St. Francis of Assisi's prayer for sick pets:
"Heavenly Father, please help us in our time of need. You have made us stewards of Cooper. If it is Your will, please restore him to health and strength. I pray, too, for other animals in need. May they be treated with the care and respect deserving of all Your creation. Blessed are You, Lord God, and holy is Your name for ever and ever. Amen. "

This past Thursday, we were woken up by a sharp yelp from our dog Cooper. We are not sure what happened. He either jumped from the bed or his brother jumped on him. Either way, he hurt his back and began having back spasms. You could actually see the musculature of his back twitching. He was also walking very slowly and stiffly. It was very unsettling, but I had seen it before. Right away, I gave him a round of meds left over from the last time he had back problems. Back in April, he experienced muscle twitches and had a hard time walking. With meds and bedrest, he got better in two or three weeks. It was like nothing had ever happened. I called his vet and told them what was going on. I did not want to bring him in, because I knew it might make things worse. The last time I brought him in for back problems, he shook the entire car ride over. He continued to shake in the waiting room of the vet's office. The shaking caused him to go from bad to worse in a matter of minutes. That was the last time. This time, I asked if I could just refill one of his medications that I was running low on. The vet agreed to refill his anti-inflammatory med and advised me to bring Cooper in if he did not get better or if he got worse. I figured we would beat this just like we had the last time with bed rest and medication.

On Friday, Cooper was already looking better. He was no longer having spasms and had full use of his back legs. He looked so much better that I decided it would be ok to join my husband at a co-workers house for dinner. As I was getting ready, I made a terrible mistake. I let Cooper out of his crated area for just 10 minutes while I ironed my dress.

10 minutes was all it took. As my husband pulled into the garage Cooper took off running for the door. I did not see what happened next, but I heard another yelp. Maybe the running hurt him, maybe he jumped, or maybe he got into a playful tussle with his brother. Whatever the cause, Cooper's back got worse. A lot worse. His walk went from looking just fine to drunken walk in a matter of seconds. It was as if his nervers were not able to coordinate with his back legs. I scooped him up and put him in his doggie bed and began to cry. I might as well have just run over him with my car. This was my fault.

Cooper acted as if he were fine. He ate his dinner, wagged his tail, and did not whine. My husband went on to his dinner and I stayed with Cooper, afraid that he might get even worse and require surgical care.

I lay beside him and after about an hour, he began fidgeting a little in his doggie bed. I gently pulled him out placed him on my mattress. Cooper pushed up on his front legs as if trying to stand. His back legs did not comply. They were paralyzed.

My vet told me that if this were to happen, I needed to get him to the animal emergency hospital right away. I grabbed Cooper, called the hospital to alert them, called Dale to inform him, and off we went.

Cooper had a ruptured disc that was pressing on his spinal cord. When we got him to the hospital, they did an exam and found that he could still feel pain in his back paws. This was a good sign, but one that might not last much longer. We could treat him with meds and bed rest only and face a 50% chance of recovery or we could opt for spinal surgery and face a 90%-95% chance of recovery. We went with the surgery. That night and the following day, I feel like cried more than I have in my whole life. I kept telling myself to be strong, but the emotions took over and simply overwhelmed me. Dale was a rock. He was my anchor. Without him, I would have been lost in sorrow and guilt.

Cooper is still in the hospital. The doctor called us this morning and told us that Cooper could still feel pain in his back paws but was not yet moving his back legs. This is ok. Healing takes time. Shoot, I had spinal surgery myself. I know what's up. Cooper is urinating on his own, which is a great sign.

We may be able to bring him home tomorrow. We have already prepared his crated area and fenced off a small area in the yard for him to use the bathroom. He is to be on bedrest 23 of the 24 hours in a day for a month.

Dale and I are no longer going to have our dogs sleep in the bed with us. We love them so much and enjoy the cuddles, but we have to think about their health and safety.

I know now that the disc that was causing the problems was probably going to rupture sooner or later. If this is the case it is best that it happened now, while I am on summer break. I will be with Cooper most of the day. If he needs it, I will take him for physical therapy and additional treatments.

I will have him walking again.


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