My wonderful LH girl, Laika, began having some trouble in Oct. 2008, when she was just about 7. Nothing very noticeable…just a little skip when she trotted and she seemed to swing her left rear leg out. I was concerned, but really didn’t think it was her back. Then she started having some spasms…we went to the vet who wasn’t sure what it was and was more inclined to think it was her stomach (she has had a lot of tummy problems in the past) as her back wasn’t painful when examined.
We were out of town at the end of the week at an agility trial (she was not running, but my other dogs were) when the leg swing became more of a drag. It got worse throughout the day so I asked some local people for the nearest emergency vet. The E Vet sent us directly to the Animal Neurology and MRI Center . There they told me that they were sure it was a disc issue and needed to keep her that night to test her deep pain response every hour and that they would call a surgeon in immediately if they thought she was getting worse. In the morning they did an MRI. The surgeon called and told me that she did have a ruptured disc at T-12-13 .Her spinal cord was over 75% compressed…if he hadn’t seen her walking that morning he wouldn’t have believed it was possible for her to be doing so. It was all such a shock and I was really unprepared…I just asked him what he would do if it was his dog, and he said he would do the surgery, so that is what we did.
Immediately after surgery, she was not able to walk or urinate. It took 5 days for her to get function back. 5 long scary days. The staff at the center was wonderful. I could call at any time, day or night (and I DID call at all hours!) and always someone was there who I could tell was interacting with and knew MY dog. Dr. Galle called every day after he examined her. That was wonderful, but I missed her so much. They didn’t want me to visit at first, but on day 4 he said I should come see her. More for me than for her. She went crazy and it was hard to leave, but she willingly went to the arms of our surgeon, which really impressed me.
After she came home, she improved every day. We had a crate up on a cart so she was quite in the middle of everything and could be rolled from room to room. She was SO good. Never complained or cried. At two weeks, she had her staples removed and was walking quite well. The surgeon said she could come out of the crate, but I opted for another 2 weeks in, although I did start walking her on his advice. It seemed like every day, she was stronger and more coordinated. Wanting to do too much of course.
Now, at 3 months post op, I would say she is 95+% back to normal. We’ve made some lifestyle changes of course. Some harder than others, as she is a very athletic, active dog with a very high prey drive. But I think I’ve been able to modify her favorite activities so she can still be herself, be safe, and be happy.
The best day was New Year’s Eve. The agility facility where we train had a party and I took my other dogs to it and left Laika home with her dad. Laika and Rob showed up after a couple of hours, when we were running a little course for fun. Laika was so excited, so I took the bars off the jumps and ran her. Just the “jumps” and two tunnels and no sharp turns…it was really just a big circle but there she was, running. Perfectly coordinated and strong and so very very happy. Our agility friends had tears in their eyes and were cheering her on (which she loves).
She is an amazing dog. So brave, so strong, so full of life. I am so very lucky.
Amy Reese- Michigan
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