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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
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
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!