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Story of the Month - October 2007    



One cool Montana October morning 2006 a there was an unusual sound of nails lightly grazing the wood floors. Uh Oh, had read something about that. Immediately called the vet and got in within the hour. By then the back feet could not place properly on the floor when flipped backwards.

The vet gave the choice of steroids and crate rest or we could drive to the nearest neurosurgeon 7.5 hours away. Panic set in what if steroids didn't do the trick? Would the travel time to Washington State University Vet Teaching Hospital and days lost on crate rest reduce Clark's possibility of recovery? The window of time for there still to be optimal surgery success is 12-24 hours from loss of deep pain sensation. Was WSU the closest and did they have the best surgeons there? First thing, Clark went in a crate at home. Then I got on the phone and called all the vets in my area and asked if their pet needed surgery, where to go? 4 out of 4 said WSU. In fact one vet had just taken her pet in. Ok, we were 4 hours into this since the morning visit with the local vet and Clark could no longer use his legs. We loaded up his crate in the van, had a friend watch Lewis & York and off we went to Pullman, WA. En route we told them ETA would be at 7:30 PM. They said the neurosurgeon would be there and waiting when we arrived.

Three students met us at the lighted entrance door and immediately started the neuro tests on Clark. Dr. Hicks, the neurosurgeon came in to confirm the diagnosis & that he still had deep pain sensation. Clark went for an MRI and then into surgery. Later that night in our motel room, Dr. Hicks called saying surgery went well and Clark was resting. After a restless night, we stopped by the hospital with a thank you card & donuts “from Clark” for the staff and to say bye to Clark as we’d be back in six days to pick him up. Surgery was costing us $3000, we kept our business open weekdays and traveled the weekend..

We received calls from the attending resident student at least two times a day and Dr. Hicks also called once or twice a day with his updates. With the information we quickly learned on the DodgersList.com web page and their e-mail List, we were able to ask good questions of the surgeon and felt very prepared to take care of Clark at home.

The neurosurgeon reminded us six weeks of confinement is necessary, even if neuro improvement occurs sooner. He demoed passive range of motion and light massage to be done 3x a day. We were to assist with a sling to walk for pees and poops. Yup, that jived with what they said at DodgersList.com. After 6 weeks Clark returned slowly to exercise with 5 mins/day leash walking, next week 10 min/day, etc. Clark was a perfect textbook case of a successful surgery and recovery!

"Despite your best efforts, however, this disease may recur." Now why did they have to write that on Clark's discharge instructions? They jinxed him! Three months later in snowy January, on a Sunday night, he went down again. We knew the routine. We called WSU told them we'd be there by PM Monday. Our local vet always kept in communication with Dr. Hicks and so it was this time. Clark went into surgery with deep pain sensation and left the hospital able to walk with a sling to go potty. Last words from the surgeon were “there should be no steps backward in progress, they might be small steps forward but none backward.”

On the fourth evening at home something was very wrong, he was in pain again couldn't pee. Our local vet, Dr. Lawson and Dr. Hicks were on the phone to each other. After an injection of Solu-Medrol prescribed by Dr. Hicks, our vet took Clark home with him for the night. First thing in the morning we drove to WSU. The MRI revealed a fracture in the vertebra causing pressure on the spinal cord. The prognosis was bleak. Reading on DodgersList about dogs that live quite happily with a pair of wheels, we knew our four-year old would do
the same if that were to be the outcome.

                                                            Paula Milner


May 2007

January 2008


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