26 12 / 2012

Dear Readers,

This is Willie’s mom. Usually, Willie picks out his own pictures for his blog and tells me what to type about them. But right now, Willie is really too sick to manage his blog, so I am going to be stepping in and writing for him for a while.

Our last update was on the 18th. He looked much as he did in that photo posted on that date, even wearing his big boy knitted cape. We went out that afternoon for a ride and walk like any other day. Only when Willie jumped into the van that day, he cried out loudly. He jumped into his back seat and was shaking all over and looked so afraid. I got in and sat with him. I thought maybe he caught a toe and scared himself. We were driving the back way to town and I always let him ride up front then so he can put his head out the window. He came up front, but he couldn’t stand in the seat. He fell to heap and was shaking all over. I found this very distressing. What was wrong with my doggie? We went immediately to our vet who dismissed the whole thing and sent us home.

He came upstairs and I fed him dinner like usual. That was the end of normalcy. After supper he typically bounds around ready to go back outside and inspect his yard. Not that night. He laid, unmoving for hours in front of mom’s chair. I could not figure it out. I brought his doggie bed downstairs from our room and set up a bed for myself on the floor next to him. He did not want to move.

I have medical equipment for myself that I set up and ran on him, hoping that would help. I immediately suspected Lyme’s. He had an active case when rescue found him 3 years ago. I knew he had arthritic shoulders, and we have been watching him carefully there for some time now. In the night, he got up around 2 am. I suspect he wanted to go outside. He made it two or three steps then collapsed crying out again and was shaking all over. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn he had been hit by a car it was all so dramatic. He was unable to move other than shaking in pain. I positioned myself to sleep next to him where he lay and held him the rest of the night. Nobody slept.

In the morning we got him back to his regular vet’s office. He was laying down, mostly unresponsive. I felt like I’d been beaten with baseball bats. What was wrong with my dog? The vet laid out all kinds of terrifying scenarios. We thought we might lose him. How could he go from a bouncy happy¬† Golden to a pile of shivering fur in less than 24 hours?

Surprisingly, he got himself up and walked with the vet to the back. We left him there for the day to have xrays and blood work done. They had him out walking all over creation out back of the office. They said he seemed fine and I could come get him and bring him home. I decided to keep him off the stairs and set up sleeping arrangements for us downstairs. Well, good thing I did, because my doggie was not “just fine” when I brought him home. He had a noticeable limp in his hind quarters that the vet assistants recognized but the doctor would not acknowledge.

I saw his vet the next morning and we went over the xrays. He insisted Willie had no musculo-skeletal problems and that he believed there was a mass in his abdomen, though he found no evidence of this. He dismissed my concern over the limp. He thought it was Addison’s and had be medicate my dog with prednisone assuming it would pep him up. It didn’t. After much insistence, he came to my home over lunch to see Willie here. Again, he had me running my dog up and down the yard, back and forth and still did not see the obvious limp. He wanted to send me to another country vet in Alta Vista for ultrasound.

Enough with the country vets already!! Acupuncture came highly recommended to me via another dog friend we met in doggie school. I found a practice with it in Charlottesville and made an appointment. A facebook friend has a sister who works there and she got us in the next day for an assessment. The acupuncturist was on Christmas vacation for the next week!! So, by this time it’s Friday. My dog is still suffering. We had borrowed a ramp so he wouldn’t have to jump up or down anymore. Good plan.

The new vet immediately saw the lameness in the left hind quarter. She could not understand why xrays were never taken of his hip. I told her the other vet did not believe that to be a problem. She looked very surprised. I told her I adamantly disagreed with his diagnosis and that’s why I was there. I wanted a second opinion. She did¬† full radiographs on all of this structure, she sedated him to examine his hip without him being put through horrible pain, and she did the ultra sound on his internal organs to get a clear view. When he came back clear of cancer and with intact cruciate ligaments I burst into tears. What a relief. Her diagnosis is hip displaysia, clearly evident in the xrays. The combination of this bad hip and active Lyme’s is likely causing the worst of his pain. I will figure out how to get jpgs on the xrays and post them here.

I still think think there is pressure on a nerve somewhere as he fits the descriptions of dogs suffering nerve root signature pain. She gave him a new med to help calm the nerve pain. She agrees the acupuncture will benefit him greatly. The vet who will work with him in this way dropped by while Willie was there and reviewed his films and met him. We are scheduled with her for Friday. I hope to take him back again a couple of times next week.

Apparently, this kind of hip problem in very, very common in large breed dogs. He is my first big dog, so this is a difficult learning experience for us all. From the reading I’ve been doing, he should have a complete recovery. It will require several weeks of rest, which is also the recommendation if there is nerve or disc involvement. So, looks like he will have to stay quiet for several weeks with his only exercise being to go out to use the potty. We are going to get him a soft kennel in his XL size so I can keep him away from the cold tile floor by the door. He likes to lay there, but it aggravated his injury so I have him confined to a different room on his bed.

I am disappointed my first vet missed this, as it is very common. I am upset that he had my dog out walking up and down steep inclines which surely caused him much pain. I see him starting to “bunny hop” here on the shallow incline of the yard and walk him to minimize hills. Immediate rest is what Willie needed, and this vet had him up and down all day long. It was likely very painful for Willie and no wonder he collapsed like he did when I brought him home Wednesday night. I am glad I am as hard headed as I am when it comes to doctors and sought out a second opinion. I am not afraid to argue with a doctor be it for my dog or myself or a family member.

I am happy with the second vet. It’s a big practice with several doctors. They even took him to the lobby to have his photo made with Santa while he was there having his workup. They helped me get him in and out of the van and recommended a new supplement called Dasequen which is supposed to be just about miraculous for restoring hips. She gave me specific dosing on the supplements. I ordered it online and it’s on the way. They called to check on him today. My first vet has never called to check on him. Willie has been going there for 3 years and is well known in the office. I understand business is business, but I expected more concern going to a country vet in a small town. I can tell you that small town living is not at all what I expected it to be! But that’s a subject for another blog.

For a while, Willie’s blog is going to be about his recovery. It’s going to be about how we bring him back to normal. Or as normal as possible. I have to make changes so he’s more comfortable. I will be moving my bedroom down to the basement. He’s accustomed to sleeping in my room so I’m not about to leave him down here alone now that he has a health problem. Don’t worry. It’s a beautiful finished basement and we will be quite comfortable. It has a walk out so I can take him in and out without any stairs. We borrowed a ramp for getting in and out of the van, but it’s sort of difficult for me to use. It would be ok if I didn’t take him anywhere, but this dog is my constant companion. I will be getting him a telescoping ramp so it easily comes out and goes back. I feel bad not having any training time before forcing him to use it, but it just can’t be helped. He absolutely can’t be jumping up anymore. After a time, he can probably go upstairs one level to the main living area. I would like to have him go up once a day and that we all have our dinner together up there like normal. But, for the most part, we will be downstairs now.

Blogs are supposed to document our daily lives. I thought this would be a fun peak into a life of a happy, bouncy Golden Retriever. I never expected in a million years he would be in so much pain. He gets adequate exercise, he gets organic food and vegetables and what I thought was quality vet care. I hope that if you also have a big dog you will take a note here and carefully watch their hips. All of this could have been avoided were we watching him closer. Don’t make my mistake. Get your dogs on the supplements early in life, don’t let them jump into vehicles, limit their time on the stairs and pay careful attention to their weight and their hips.

  1. everybodyloveswillie posted this