Here are a couple of blog entries from Andee’s Story that give the latest on our dog Andee.
It’s been a roller coaster year for all of us. During the past ten days, I’ve been contemplating the past year, from family health concerns (mom, dad, sister) to my own health (a broken arm, a retinal hemorrhage), from changes at work to a new job, from the political climate to the economic downturn. It’s been quite a year.
But the most challenging part of the year is the situation with Andee. Today we bought a kennel for her so that she can rest safely without getting herself into trouble. The plan is to meet the medical team at the vet school tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be trained on how to express her urine, how to hook her into an exercise cart (a wheelchair for dogs), and how to passively exercise her hind legs. She still does not feel deep pain in her legs, and we’re operating on the assumption that she never will again.
What’s most important is that we give her the opportunity to have a good quality of life. She has given us so much joy (both to us and to Happy, our other dog). There is no question that this will be a great challenge for all of us. And frankly I don’t know where this will take us as a family.
We’ll find out soon enough. She’ll be home this weekend.
Kathy and I have decided to move the story of Andee’s trauma, surgery and recovery to a separate blog, entitled Andee’s Story. We hope this new blog will be of interest to those with disabled and paraplegic animals, and we plan to maintain the blog with related stories, articles and links.
The link to our first post on this new blog is here: Andee’s Story: A sudden crisis
It’s becoming clear to us that Andee’s recovery from her back injury and subsequent surgery is going to be long, and likely incomplete. While she is improving every day with her reflex response, she is still unable to feel deep pain and has no motor control of her hind legs, and no voluntary control of her bladder.
We visited her at the vet school on Saturday to deliver some toys, chewies and her favorite food. She was having some gastro-intestinal distress from the medication and food they were giving her. Her regular kibble seems to be helping this. We also got to help her exercise with the “cart”, which is effectively a wheelchair for paraplegic dogs. She was quite adept at getting around with it, but it’s only something that she can do with direct supervision (at least for now).
We are learning a lot about dogs who have survived with this kind of disability. And it is truly amazing the quality of life they can have. But it takes a tremendous amount of effort by the owners, and it will be a challenge for us to find kennel care when we travel.
Our older dog Happy is clearly not happy, and this concerns us. She is confused by why Andee is not around. She is not eating well, and she is constantly in need of “attention”. We took her for a walk to the voting precinct (we had local elections on Saturday) and she really seemed to enjoy that. So we’re trying to keep up the activity level. We would like to bring her with us to visit Andee, but we know that is neither feasible nor practical.
We’ve included some photos of Andee from our last visit. The marks on her shaven back are the point at which tactile reflexs stop. That mark is moving slowly towards her tail (a good thing). What we don’t know is when and where that progress will stop.
Well, our trip to the pet ER on Sunday led us to take our dog Andee to her vet the next morning, where he promptly had her transferred to the LSU Vet School. Her prognosis was poor but mixed. The vet felt she might have a better chance of recovery, but that he did not have the diagnostic tools and that the Vet School would be able to give her the very best chance possible.
Kathy took Andee over to LSU, where the dog was examined by a team of vets. After some additional X-rays and other tests, it was clear that her prognosis was not good. She did not feel deep pain in either leg. She had no control of either leg, and did not respond to the normal reflex tests that are given to dogs. They did see that several disks in her lower back had mineralized (more than what they saw at the ER), but they did not see any proximate cause for the injury or pressure on the spinal column.
They felt her only hope for recovery was to operate on her back. In doing so, they could see if there might be a tumor causing the problem. They could also try to relieve some of the pressure on the spinal column, so that she could regain control of her lower extremities. The surgery went well, but they found no tumor. They did find bits and pieces of herniated disks in her spinal fluid, which they have sent for analysis. She recovered from the anesthesia well, and she has already enamored several of the attending vet students.
As of today, her nerve function is actually less than before the surgery, but that was to be expected. The swelling from the surgery will take a few days to come down. By the end of the week we may know more about Andee’s prognosis. In the meantime, she’ll stay at the small animal clinic.
Back at home, Happy (our older dog) is completely confused. She wanders the house looking for Andee, and she seems extra “needy”. We’re trying to provide some extra comfort to her, and play with her a little more than normal. More to follow…