Posts Tagged ‘cauda equine syndrome’

I work my way through difficult times by writing. I work my way through good times by writing. What the heck: I work my way through life by writing. I find it much easier to write about things than to talk about them (a trait which nonplusses my extrovert coworker who wants me to dish the details verbally).

That said, here’s the story:

Harvey has always had a funny habit of wanting his back massaged. He’ll be snoozing on the floor in front of you, and you press your toes into his lumbar region and – whoa! The dog pushes back and writhes in ecstasy as you massage his lower back with your toes! He has also always walked and run a bit funny, leaving us to theorize that he was hit by a car early in his life, long before I came to own him. His back legs always seem to give him a bit of trouble, and even strangers to him have commented that he appears to be in pain, if only fleetingly.Last week, my husband took off on his first ever camping trip in the VW Van. He took his dog and left Harvey behind. Harvey moped. He didn’t want to do anything. So, the second day of his confinement to his kennel while I worked, I came home and took him on a long walk to the park. I put him on a lunge line (yes, a horse’s lung line – it’s long and you still have control of the dog) and let him explore the park. It’s a leash park, so he can’t go off-leash and he runs away when he’s off-leash. Or he used to: I haven’t tried since he truly bonded with me. We took a long walk the next night, too. And the next two days were shorter walks, but anything to get him from moping.Sunday, I realized he was not just moping: he was hurting. He didn’t want to get up and walk anywhere. He was as stiff as our old dog, Sadie, was right before she succumbed to old age and cancer. He was eating, but only when I hand fed him. He was drinking water. Mostly, he just wanted to mope.My husband came home Sunday afternoon, and I thought Harvey would immediately improve. Nope. He wagged his tail and barked a welcome, but he laid back down and moped the rest of the evening. He limped a little when he walked. I decided that I would see how he was in the morning & I would weigh calling in sick to take care of him.This is how my marriage works: we’re joint owners of nearly everything, but vet visits tend to be my domain. His dog is his dog, and my dog is my dog. The dogs even understand this dynamic.I called in sick. I felt guilty. I called in later and confessed it was my dog that was sick. I got Harvey a 3:00 appointment with our vet. I admit that I was nervous: last time I weighed Harvey at the vet’s, he was 90#. But he looks thinner and I can feel his ribs, so I hoped he had lost enough weight that I wouldn’t be in for a lecture on over-feeding my dog. He was 80# today, right in the perfect weight for a 27″ English Setter. <whew> The vet did ask if the weight loss was accidental or intentional and I was able to assure him that it was intentional. I went in thinking that Harvey had the first signs of hip dysplasia. I was scared. He was in pain. He didn’t even try to sniff noses with any of the multitude of other dogs in the reception area (and there were a lot of them, because our vet is a busy vet). Thankfully, there were no cats today.The vet pulled at his hips and legs, turned his head and neck both directions to test his flexibility, and lifted his hind quarters off the ground. “Well, he’s certainly not telling us where it hurts, is he?” He could see Harvey hurt, but there wasn’t even a whimper. He checked Harvey’s bowels (no obstruction). Finally, he lifted Harvey’s back end off the ground and applied forward pressure onto his shoulders. Just the slightest growl of pain emanated from the dog. We looked at each other: “Well, he finally had something to say!”I could have had x-rays done, but it wasn’t in my budget (and my recent research has shown it wouldn’t prove anything anyway). The vet has been our vet for over 20 years and I know he has an instinct about animals: I trust him. He said he thought it was – and it is most likely by the symptoms – a degenerative disease of the lower lumbar. He even gave it a name:”Lumbrosacral stenosis“We were given antiflammatory meds and pain killers, plus a print-out on the disease (also known as cauda equine syndrome).Harvey is on strict doggie bed rest (a short step from cage arrest). No walks, short or long. Outside only to pee & poop. Meds until they are exhausted. He should be happy by Wednesday – if not… Harvey could hardly climb into the car to come home. I know we disturbed his back a lot during the exam. He’s been resting quietly in front of the TV all evening. The pain meds (I hope) have kicked in a little. We have lots of massage and heat therapy ahead.I’m happy that it isn’t hip dysplasia, but the more I read about it, the less happy I am. I have to share this photo with you. It is of Ch Mallwyd Sirdar, one of the leading sires of the English Setter lineage. Harvey looks just like him!English_setter_-_Laverack_bloodlineHarvey is resting tonight. I am praying for the best outcome.  He’s the sweetest dog possible.

Read Full Post »