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Story of the Month - March 2005    

"Moose P. "   


On August 15, 2004, we thought everything was fine when we woke up, but then we noticed that Moose P., our 4 year old miniature, was acting a bit “off”. We really thought he was constipated because the night before he had eaten some rice, and had not gone to the bathroom yet, his stomach felt very hard too. So we watched him closely and around noon, when he was not getting better I actually went as far as to go buy some children’s laxative to see if that would help. When I got back from the store however he was starting to not be able to stand on his back legs. I will never forget the look on his face when he could not make himself walk to us. When we saw this we immediately took him to an emergency vet close by, and were told there that it was his back. We were in denial, just because he has always been so active, he is not overweight, and nothing traumatic had ever happened to him physically. The vet told us that he had to have surgery because of the rapid onset; he said steroids may not help much and he probably would not walk again.

After many tears and figuring out how to pay for it we rushed him to College Station, TX (about an hour and a half away) for emergency surgery. He was so brave. Through this whole ordeal he only cried once, we felt so bad for him. Anyways by the time we got to the hospital he had completely lost control of his back legs, but still had deep pain sensation, so we were told he had about a 60% chance to walk again. Before we left (around 4:30 p.m.) they gave us the rundown on the risks of surgery and this disease in general. They mentioned myelomalcia to us, and that it was fatal but that it was extremely rare and not to worry, so we kind of blew that off. Then things went downhill even faster. The surgeon called us at around 5pm and said Moose P. had lost deep pain sensation, and now his chances of walking again were only 5%. He asked if we still wanted surgery, we said yes and so about 5 hours later Moose P. was in surgery.

When they called us to tell us he was out, the surgeon said she had seen signs of myelomalcia during surgery (meaning she could see that a part of his spine had started to liquefy). All I could think of was what they had told us before the surgery about myelomalcia so of course we completely freaked out. The next morning they told us we should come up and see him, and that we might have to make a decision on putting him to sleep because of the myelomalcia. The whole drive we were just terrified of what we would see. Moose P. is like our child and he has always been so active and eager so we dreaded seeing him so sick. When we got there though we knew right away he was going to make it. He hobbled to the front of his cage and was full of kisses for us, he even ate for us, so we left that day feeling much better and not to worried about the walking business because we were so happy to see his spirits were good and the myelomalcia had not progressed.

Over the next couple of days Moose P. surprised everyone and actually seemed to be on the road to walking again. They had actually raised his chances back to 60% and were recommending not buying a cart. Then the bottom fell out again about three days after surgery. Overnight he lost all of his reflexes in his back legs and lower back, which indicated that the myelomalcia had progressed down his spine. We were now playing the waiting game again to make sure it did not progress up his spine which would eventually cause him to not be able to breathe anymore. Needless to say he made it and the myelomalcia seemed to have stopped. According to the doctors his chances for walking now are pretty much nil, but we haven not given up yet.

About 14 days after surgery we finally got to take Moose P. home, which was a relief for him because he got to be back in his normal environment. It was a relief for us too, because we went to see him everyday, but it was really hard to leave him every time when he was looking at us like why are you leaving me here. Once we got him home he had two more weeks of resting, so we devised a little square for him, out of a superyard and a couple dog beds. To our surprise he kind of liked it in there so the two weeks were not too bad. We also quickly got used to expressing his bladder. It took a while at first but now we have it down pretty good. We also went through a time of trying not to get his knees scraped up or carpet burned, but now he has little towel pouches that he wears all the time that help. They also keep any stray poops in control and away from him rolling in them (ugh). He actually gets excited to see the pouches come out of the dryer now. He plays in the tub about 3-4 times a week which he loves and we are waiting for our interferential machine that will help keep some muscles in his back legs since they have deteriorated very rapidly. The good news is that at the last trip to the vet he had gained back a lot of anal tone, even inside, so that is a positive. We still hope that with some patience, he will walk again. Even if he does not we will be just as happy, because we still have our Miracle Moose P.

As for Moose P., with or without his cart he just does not care that his back legs are not working, he scoots and rolls as fast if not faster than he ever ran. He has never once acted depressed about his situation, which Juan and I took some lessons from. We figured if he was not upset about not walking then we should not be saddened by it either. He is absolutely himself, and shows us everyday that we made the right decision by going through with the surgery, being patient with his healing, and not giving up hope for him.

We would really like to thank Moose’s wonderful surgeon and student at Texas A&M, Dr. Arathi Vinayak and Laura Pratt. Also our wonderful and caring vet Dr. Matthew Taylor as well as the staff at Prestonwood Animal Clinic who looked after Moose P. for us for a few days before he officially came home. And of course all of the people on Dodger’s List who helped us through this. All of the encouragement from all of the people above helped us through all of this and kept our spirits up with Moose P., which I truly believe helped him to keep his spirits up through all of this.

- submitted by Amy Williams



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