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Tag: injury

Ace’s diagnosis: A herniated disc

Ace apparently has a herniated disc – a condition his temporary veterinarian hopes will go away with several weeks of rest, a ban on strenuous physical activity, some anti-inflammatory drugs, and multiple daily doses of doggie Valium.

Seeking to solve the mystery of the periodic yelps he has been emitting the past few days, we paid a visit to Ard-Vista Animal Hospital in Winston-Salem, where Ace – after two days of being poked and prodded by me – was poked and prodded by someone who actually knew what he was doing.

It was the first time, other than our stop in Santa Fe to get updated on vaccinations, that Ace required medical attention during our travels – ten months during which he has probably jumped in and out of the back of my Jeep Liberty 3,000 or so times.

There’s no knowing what caused Ace’s disc to herniate, but I suspect that’s the culprit, which is easier to say than I suspect I’m the culprit – for I’m the one who dreamed up this trip, I’m the one who repeatedly says, “Getinthecar, getinthecar.”

Veterinarians – the one Ace visited included – make a point of telling owners of dogs so afflicted that it’s probably nothing they did, that it could be genetic. But guilt is like an old faucet – even when somebody tries to turn it all the way off it still drips.

Drips.

Drips.

I’d felt the guilt even before we got to the vet, back three days ago when Ace, who is six, first balked at jumping into the car. I ordered a ramp the next day, and it came today, about two hours after we got the diagnosis — and thankfully before I had to lift him into the car, in which case we’d probably be talking about two herniated discs right now.

We arrived at the vet early, after a morning in which Ace’s behavior turned even more bizarre. He followed me everywhere I went, toilet included, and sat at my feet, peering sadly into my eyes. I’m not one to put words into the mouths of dogs, but many of us dog people receive messages whether they’re being sent or not, and the one I was getting was, “This pain I’m experiencing – the one I refuse to let on where it is (because, after all, I’m a dog and can’t talk)? It’s getting worse.  Is there nothing you can do about it?”

Uncharacteristically, he didn’t jump up on the front counter at the vet’s office, another sign that something was wrong. I passed along his history, and they weighed him in – 127 pounds.

Dr. Raymond Morrison ran his hands along all of Ace, moving his legs, testing his joints, none of which produced a yelp – only a couple of mild growls. When he pushed down on Ace’s head though, Ace yelped, just as he had when I did the same thing the night before.

Dr. Morrison’s diagnosis:  A herniated disc, something that’s not uncommon in either little dogs, like dachshunds, or big ones, like Rottweiler’s. With Ace it appeared to be a disc located near the neck. The vet opted for conservative steps – a Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (or NSAID), administered once a day. Despite having heard of some pretty bad side effects from NSAIDs in dogs, I agreed.

The drugs and bed rest might possibly take care of the situation. If they don’t, and his pain continues, he’ll need to get x-ray, CT scan  or MRI and be evaluated by a neurologist. Surgery is a possibility.

A herniated disc is a tear that allows spongy material to escape from the disc and protrude into the spinal canal, like jelly oozing out of a jelly donut. By pushing on the spinal cord, it causes inflammation, resulting, in Ace’s case, neck pain. In more severe cases it can lead to weakness and a lack of coordination in the limbs, loss of bladder and bowel control, and paralysis.

Based on the diagnosis, there will have to be some lifestyle changes – some temporary, some permanent. No more jumping in and out the car. No more jumping in and out of my bed, at least not for several weeks. No more collar around his neck; instead we’ll use his harness. And for the next two weeks, no frolicking, no wrestling, no playing – except for perhaps a quiet board game.

Well be laying low in the basement, during which time I’ll likely continue to ponder that grey and squiggly line between pampering and over-protecting one’s canine and  letting a dog – ala “Merle’s Door” — be a dog.

Just now, eight hours after our vet visit, six hours after administering medication, we stepped outside. Ace, for the first time in several days, gave his body a full shake, and crouched into a play stance, full of life. All his guardedness about moving his head – at least for a moment – was gone. As Dr. Morrison said might happen, he was raring to go, wanting to play and seemingly feeling no pain.

“That’s just the Valium talking,“ I said. “No playing. Stop being joyful.” He obeyed, and started looking sad and droopy again.

With that I grabbed his harness (his collar being garbage now) and, like two stoop-shouldered old men, we walked slowly back to the house.

At least for the next few weeks, I plan to err on the side of being over-protective.

Dear Isaac, Please do not ride the dog

We’re not real big on stating the obvious, but there are times it needs to be stated, especially when it comes to children and dogs.

Case in point:  today’s “Dear Abby” column, in which a reader relates how a 9-year-old visitor to his home climbed aboard his Labrador retriever, possibly causing her permanent injuries.

“Isaac,” the visiting child, who apparently had little experience with canines, was playing with Layla, the retriever, when the homeowner heard him say, “Look, I’m riding your dog!”

“I immediately intervened, but I was too late,” the letter writer said. “A day or so later, Layla was unable to descend our stairway and was clearly in pain. She has been on pain medication for three weeks and is growing progressively worse. The next step is to get X-rays and/or an MRI to see if she has a spinal injury, and then determine her treatment. It’s possible the damage is irreversible.”

The letter writer wasn’t seeking veterinary advice, but wondering how to tell Isaac and his parents about the harm he caused, and keep him from doing it again, without placing “undue guilt on a 9-year-old boy.”

Abby responded to “Heartbroken in New York” this way:

“Children are not mind-readers. If you don’t tell them when they make a mistake, they won’t realize they have made one. Contact Isaac’s parents and explain what happened. If your dog needs treatment, they should be responsible for whatever damage their son did.”

I — though  nobody asked — would add only two things to that. First, that any guilt Isaac might feel on learning what he had done isn’t exactly “undue.” Second, that when your dog is meeting someone new — especially a child — you should be in the room, watching and, if necessary, teaching. It’s very easy for a dog owner to assume everyone knows how to behave around dogs, but it’s also very wrong.

Riding a dog, no matter how big he or she is, no matter what the Internet might tell you — and the photo above is just  one example of some incredibly irresponsible online “expertise” — should simply never be done. Period.

(Photo: Taken from wikiHow.com’s article on “how to ride a dog”)

(Postscript: The day after this article appeared on ohmidog!, the wikiHow article on “how to ride a dog” was taken down.) 

 

Injured stray nurses her own — and more

A stray dog in Canada didn’t let getting hit by a car keep her from nursing her litter of five pups.

And one kitten.

Esperanza, as she’s been named (Spanish for “Hope”), was found on a central Alberta reserve by Criss Gerwing, who runs a small animal rescue group. The dog, a white shepherd mix, led Gerwing to her pups, and a kitten that, somehow, ended up nestled in with the rest of the litter.

“I cried because she was in such bad condition with her leg, but she was obviously nursing her puppies and this kitten,” Gerwing said.

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Gerwing took all the animals to the Edmonton Humane Society, where veterinarians thought they’d have to amputate the mother dog’s bad leg. But a local veterinarian, Dr. Milton Ness, saying she was “a special soul”  volunteered to perform surgery to save her leg.

“She is such a sweet, sweet dog,” Shawna Randolph at the humane society said. “She has such a wonderful personality.”

Leaving Santa Fe

I’ve seen my last sunset in Santa Fe and, after an idyllic ten days, Ace and I are headed east — first to Oklahoma to visit another ex, my ex cat.

My stint as a petsitter went well, but with a sour note at the end. After the owners of Sophie, Charlie and Lakota got home, Lakota and Ace went at it, only for a second or two, but enough to leave Lakota with blood coming from his eye.

We should have seen it coming. Lakota’s mom was giving Ace some attention — too much attention in Lakota’s view. The bulldog lashed out at Ace; Ace lashed back, and either bit or clawed Lakota in the eye.

Lakota’s veterinarian dad looked it over and was pretty certain it was just the eyelid that was injured, but he was taking him to get checked out by a specialist just the same.

Ace and Lakota, while there was some growling on the first day, had seemed to have gotten to the point of tolerating each other. Lakota didn’t seem to mind if I was lavishing attention on Ace, or Sophie, or Charlie. Then again, I was just the petsitter.

After ten days without mom, I guess Lakota wasn’t willing to share her once she returned.

Florida man’s home surgery kills dog

jonesFirst, he tried super glue. And when that wasn’t enough to close a three-inch cut on the chest of a dog he was temporarily caring for, a Florida man rendered the dog unconscious with chloroform and stitched her up with dental floss, authorities say.

Broward County deputies took William Ralph Jones Jr., 55, of Oakland Park, into custody Wednesday and charged him with two counts of felony animal cruelty, Florida’s Sun Sentinel reported.

Jones’ impromptu surgery caused Zoe, a 2-year-old retriever mix, to suffer excessive and unnecessary pain, the sheriff’s office said.

Danielle Vecchio, Zoe’s owner, said she moved to a home that prohibited pets last year, leaving Zoe in the care of Jones, her friend’s father. “It’s horrible to think about what they did to her,” she said. “They called me only after she was dead.”

Zoe had repeatedly escaped from Jones’ yard, and on Jan. 12 suffered a cut of about 3 inches to her chest, the Sheriff’s Office said. Jones first tried to seal Zoe’s wound with super glue, but when it reopened the next day, he placed her on his coffee table and instructed his roommate to give the dog a muscle relaxant, the sheriff’s report states.

The dog, still conscious,  wouldn’t calm down, so Jones got his roommate and his daughter to hold her down and held a solution over her muzzle that he said was chloroform before attempting to sew up the wound. After that, the dog never regained consciousness.

Jones posted $5,000 bond and was freed from jail yesterday.

Dog zapped by stray voltage in Brooklyn

Stray voltage has zapped another dog in New York, but the 7-year-old mixed breed named Princess appears to have survived the shock.

Matthew Voto, 80, of Brooklyn said his dog was shocked by the stray current as a friend walked her along a sidewalk on Union Avenue Monday morning. The dog yelped and started to bleed from the mouth, Voto told the New York Daily News.

Con Ed sent a crew of workers to the building yesterday and  found that the building’s owner had installed electrical equipment that caused a “burnout” of a connector inside a basement circuit breaker.  Due to the burnout, readings of 60 volts and 110 volts were recorded near the sidewalk where Princess was zapped.

Con Ed said the weekend storm may have helped bring about the situation because water and salt conduct electricity.

To learn more about the stray voltage phenomenon, which has claimed both dog and human lives, visit Streetzaps.com.

Two wheels for Tuzik

More than six months ago, a dog was hit by a car in St. Petersburg, Russia, and left to die.

But witnesses to the accident picked up the dog and brought him to a veterinary clinic. A veterinarian performed surgery, for free, but the dog’s spinal injuries were such that he lost the use of his back legs and wasn’t expected to walk again.

He was taken to an animal shelter, whose staff couldn’t bear the thought of the dog, who they named Tuzik, spending his life laying in the shelter’s dirt yard.

After a flurry of Internet searching and email exchanges, hampered by language differences, arrangements were made for Tuzik to be shipped to the U.S. and taken in by Pets With Disabilities, a non-profit group in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

The organization rescues and finds home for animals who have been injured through trauma or disabled by illness. It provides support and resources for the families of disabled pets and for shelters attempting to place special-needs animals into loving homes. Joyce Darrell and her husband, Michael Dickerson, founded the organization in 2000 after their dog Duke broke his back playing as a puppy. Tuzik10-09

Tuzik arrived in October.

“Why a dog from Russia? We were wondering the same thing for many months,” Darrell says on the Pets With Disabilities website, “But Tuzik was on a mission to find a better life – and meet a family that would appreciate all he had to offer.” Darrell says he has “brought a sense of royal majesty to the rescue. It’s hard to explain, but when you sit with him, you have no pity for him – he really is not looking for that…

“He’s moving around the rescue with more confidence everyday. He’s begun to play with toys – and he has a huge heart to offer the right family.”

Tuzik is available for adoption. To see more of him and the organization’s other disabled dogs in need of homes, click here.

(Photo courtesy of Pets With Disabilities)