When Life Turns Upside Down….

Raven has been the most amazing puppy. She was literally everything I had been looking for in a puppy. She was so loving, loved to learn, was into everything and was growing in confidence every day. She loved everyone and everyone loved her.

She got Kennel Cough from one of the events we were at and so ended up on loxicom. It was fine for a while and then she ended up getting a bad tummy. The vets said this could happen so we stopped the drugs instantly. One night though she woke up in the middle of the night and was really uncomfortable so I carried her outside but we didn’t get outside. What happened I don’t know but we both ended up on the floor and she was screaming. My brain has changed the events of that night so much now I don’t know what I am making up and what actually happened but I do know everything that has happened since is my fault and I am beating myself up on a daily basis about it. Apparently trying to protect a puppies joints can result in something much worse.

We rushed her to our vets, we recently changed vets due to a friend of ours having an accident with their dog whilst we were out training. Our vets at the time didn’t have an out of hours, so we would have had to travel 30-40 minutes to get to the out of hours vets that they use. The ones we changed to are only 15 minutes away, possibly not even that and have their own out of hours. This we were incredibly grateful as within about 20 minutes of calling them we were at the vets. I don’t remember most of what happened there either, I know I came over very faint and very sick. They injected her with painkillers and stuff and told us if she was still uncomfortable to call them around 8:30 and they would get her in for xrays.

So at around 8:30ish we called and then took her in for x rays. At this point both Paul and I had emailed/called work and let everyone know what had happened. My clients have been amazing through all of this and I can’t thank them enough for it.

The xrays showed nothing conclusive and so they wanted to give her a couple of days in case it was just severe bruising. The next day we took her back because she was still in a lot of pain and they upped her pain meds. We then gave it a day but she was still incredibly uncomforable. I think I knew it was her back, part of me thinks I knew it all along. Pretty sure the vets feared it as well but we were all hoping for something better. Wednesday evening I emailed the vets with a video of her trying to toilet in the garden and asked for her to be referred. This was something the vets mentioned when we first took her in so it was always an option.

WARNING!!! The video below is not comfortable viewing.

Thursday morning was an agonising wait to hear from Dick White so we could take her down. We eventually got the call and was told to go down before 3pm. It was 1pm and it takes two hours to get there so it was a bit of a miracle that we made it down there but we did. They had slotted in already for a CT scan and we had a chat with a vet who explained that she was a bit of an anomoly as she didn’t really sit under neurology or orthopaedics so they wanted to see what the CT showed and they would keep her in and call us after the scan.

They called us before we had got home…. the CT showed that she had fractured her L6 vertebrae, he explained it a bit like a digestive biscuit when you push on the middle and it cracks. Part of the bone was then lodged against a nerve that goes in and out of her L7 vertebrae. They said they were looking at it and hoping that with 6-8 weeks of crate rest that she would heal up on her own and that her body would see the bone fragment as something that shouldn’t be there and break it down. Puppies heal incredibly fast and so they said there shouldn’t be an issue, she might need an op after the spine has healed if the bone hadn’t broken down but other then that she should then live a happy normal life. It sounded unknown but really good!

The next morning we had an update that she was still in pain but doing well and loving the attention from all the staff members. It still sounded good and we would hopefully be able to pick her up soon. At lunch time someone else called, I can’t remember where they came into this but they said that neurology had looked at her again and were keen on operating now. This came as a huge shock being that everything we had heard was about how it all looked good. They said operating on her was a big unknown, they could damage her more and we don’t know how it will affect her growth. There are so many big scary things. I just didn’t know what to say but she was in a lot of pain and all the pain meds they were giving her weren’t making her anymore comfortable.

The surgeon called in the evening. He was head of neurology and told me that if it was his own dog he would be operating. I had already spoken to Paul and we said that if she was in that much pain then she had to be operated on. There wasn’t another option.

The surgeon called us again Saturday morning and explained that she would be having an MRI before the op so they could see exactly where all the bits of bone were and they knew was technqiue to use in surgery. They would then call me around lunch time. They called about 3pm. I have never felt so sick in my life. Watching the clock all morning waiting for them to call. They did call and said that the op went as well as they could hope, that she was out of surgery and awake. She was comfortable and they were very happy with her.

The relief I felt then was something I don’t think I have felt before. I suddenly felt completely exhausted, physically and emotionally and I felt so dizzy and somewhat out of it. She was okay.

Sunday morning they called, they were going to take her off the morphine and start physio with her. I wouldn’t hear from them till Monday unless something didn’t quite go to plan.

We didn’t hear anything. It actually meant that for the first time in a while we were able to get the other three out, spend some time with them and give them the much needed exercise and attention that they deserved. They had been somewhat neglected and been so well behaved all things considered.

Monday morning they called to let us know that she was responding really well, off the morphine and doing really well with the physio. If all went well she could come home end of the week.

We both were able to resume work as normal though very aware things could change at any moment. Though I was waiting for that next phone call…

Tuesday they called and asked when we wanted to pick her up as it could be either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday. I wanted my puppy home so badly so I arranged to get as much work done as I could so that we could get down and pick her up.

I was so nervous driving down to Dick Whites on Wednesday. They had been positive about everything, that all looked good, she was responding well, she wasn’t showing signs of being in pain. Everything looked good. We waited a while for the surgeon and then he led us into a room to chat about her and her future. It started as expected, she would have to be rested for a month and then we need to talk to him again about her progress and then we will decide what she can or can’t do. That was all fine. So for a month she isn’t allowed near any steps, can’t jump, no running, no turning or twisting. He said she didn’t need to be crate rested if she is sleepy and would just sleep but I don’t think he knows munsters well. If she showed signs of being sleepy and we let her out the crate she would be awake in seconds! We asked about what life would look like for her in the future and this is where things got confusing.

He said she would never be allowed to jump or use stairs. He said she could lead a sensible lifestyle which means no running – ever. He said she would have a normal life but we had to be sensible about it. I think my heart broke into a thousand pieces. That wasn’t a normal life. That wasn’t even a sensible normal life. It was stopping her from having any life. If what he says is true she will never be allowed to play, to run, to be a dog. How is that in any way normal?

Raven’s breeder is a vet and her dads owner is a hydrotherapist. They have been incredibly supportive during this and her breeder sent us such a lovely card. We have all come to the conclusion that he was giving us the worst case scenario. We have found stories of other dogs who have had the same type of fracture and the same type of op who all run, jump, go up and down stairs without an issue. This is what is keeping me going right now. She will have a normal life.

There is a risk of complication as she grows and the possibility that the implant may have to come out in a year or so. The surgeon said that he has never had to do this before and he has been doing these ops for a really long time! But part of me wonders if that would be better, if the implant is the weak part that will restrict her ability to move. We will see what the future holds.

We had lots of plans for Raven, she was going to be my next agility dog, she would run two dog scooter with Dill. Right now I just want her to be able to run off lead and be a normal dog. She will never be able to do agility. She might be able to run in harness, but at the moment it is an unknown. We will see what happens in time…

She is now having physio and short 5 minute walks every day, the walks can increase to 10 minutes next week and increase by 5 minutes a week. She is doing really well, you honestly wouldn’t know she had been through what she has been through….