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--Success Story--    


By Debbie Joncas

At the age of 5 1⁄2 Seamus’ first sign of discomfort came on 4/19/09, which I noticed, but thought I should push him….., thought he was being a baby. Finally 3 days later, 4/22/09, I took him to his vet who did x-rays and diagnosed him with IVDD. Put him on muscle relaxer and prednisone and crate rest really with no specific time frame. Through my work, I know personally a vet who is affiliated with a Veterinary Specialist group near where we live, called my friend and he suggested strict crate rest and the meds he was on were good. And if there was any change, call him at home and or bring him immediately to the practice (which is a 24-7 practice). So tending to be more pro-active than re-active I called and made an appointment with the group the next day. (I would rather have Seamus evaluated and they get to know him outside of an ER situation.) That was beginning and continuation of a wonderful relationship with VCA.

At his first appointment he was evaluated by a neurosurgeon, Dr. Randy Fitch at VCA, Veterinary Specialist of Northern Colorado, who told us to continue the path we were on with no change. Which we did….but then came the stomach problems and all that comes with that. Seamus had stopped eating and drinking. I spoon fed him yogurt, cottage cheese and water. Anything to get him to eat and drink. The following week I returned, and met with the other neurosurgeon, Dr. Ronald Bright and we started the whole regiment of stomach and diarrhea medications and finally put him on pain meds. (Poor guy!) At the same time I learned about a dog food which had been raved about for being easily digested, Royal Canin-Digestive Low Fat. It worked….he ate it as I continued to feed him by hand.

We continued with our weekly appointments for 1 month and he seemed to be improving, so the vet released him with crate rest and a whole host of pain meds and stomach meds. All along he struggled to walk, very slowly and you could see the pain in his face. We would carry him in and out to our yard and he would cry and yelp when picked up a certain way. Friends who stopped by thought he would die anytime, he looked so bad.

Then on 6/5/09 (Friday) we returned to VCA because he seemed to be getting worse. Dr. Bright lay on the floor once again to examine him and said, “I think it is time for surgery”. I said when, and he said today, I have cleared my schedule! We were ready, we had discussed the cost and the risks and the outcome. At least I thought I was ready until I had to kiss him goodbye. But the staff comforted me, and I immediately felt better about leaving him there. Dr. Bright asked to do a CAT scan once they had him ready for surgery, so they would know every detail and we said absolutely. He called us after doing the CAT scan and before surgery and said “We have made the right decision. This little boy is in such pain, surgery is the way to go.” Dr. Bright would be performing a Neuro hemilaminectomy on Seamus as soon as we hung up the telephone.

Surgery went very well, and we met Dr. Bright at the office the next day (Saturday). He went over the CAT scan and surgery and then took us back to see Seamus. Even though he was still on morphine, his eyes were bright and he was much more attentive than prior to his surgery. It was the right thing to do; now we really knew.

Again the next day Dr.Bright (Sunday) came in to check on Seamus and then called us first thing in the morning. Seamus (with the help of a sling) had been outside and peed and pooped. What wonderful news! So we headed over to see him and take him some of his special food and yogurt and couldn’t believe our eyes. He was so happy to see us and Dr. Bright said he would check him again the next morning first thing, we should wait for his call, but he could likely come home.

We did take him home on Monday 6/8/09, walking with a sling and happy as can be. As part of his discharge, we met with their vet who specializes in Physical Therapy and received some very basic leg exercises to do until we begin the real physical therapy in a couple of weeks. Seamus agreed to use the sling for one day, promptly kicked it off and walked slowly on his own, in and out to go to the bathroom. It was amazing!

As part of the Physical Therapy – our directions from the vet were for Seamus to lose weight. In the beginning he was close to 17 lbs. Now he weighs 14.2 lbs. How we did it? We continued giving him the Royal Canin kibble but cut the amount in half and supplemented his diet with cooked vegetables mixed with pumpkin. Now his treats are baby carrots or vegetables, maybe a low calorie treat 1-2 times a day. (Except when we go to VCA, they spoil him!)

Physical Therapy started in July and continued into November with very specific exercises and water therapy treatments at the office. Seamus was released in December of 2009.

We can not say enough positive things about the Veterinary Practice and all of their staff. We would recommend them to everyone in the Colorado area. They are in Loveland, CO.

Update: On February 19, 2010 we had a slight relapse. Immediately took him to see Dr. Bright, got him on pain meds, muscle relaxer and prednisone. Nothing for the stomach, but we watched him like a hawk. Crate rest for 6 weeks and regular rechecks…..he’s back to normal. Now we wonder if he either twisted or there was an issue with some scar tissue.

I have just learned about Dodgers list and it has been so helpful. I really thought once he got through surgery, we were home free. But this is going to be for the rest of his life. Now that I understand that, I am much more relaxed about Seamus' medical condition.

Special Note: My husband was diagnosed with MS in 2004 and 3 years ago, we moved into a completely barrier free home, no steps or even thresholds, wide doorways, you get the picture. When we described the house to Dr. Bright, he said “Oh you live in a dachshund house!” It really works for all of us!
Thank you for your work!