This is part 2 of our story with Dexter who was diagnosed with IVDD ( a disorder that can leave a dog paralyzed due to a slipped or herniated disk in their back) last Sunday night. If you missed part 1 you can read it here.
To recap: Dexter was dragging his hind legs and we drove 2 hours in a snow storm to get to a 24/7 vet. They were optimistic about our options, but their x-ray machine was broken. So we headed to another 24/7 vet who said we had to put Dexter down if we couldn’t afford the surgery. Somehow we got the vet to agree to let us try crate rest with steroids.
We got home after midnight, exhausted and overwhelmed. Hubby went right to bed and I sat up with Dexter trying to get him to sleep. He couldn’t get comfortable and cried a lot. He wasn’t in pain as the second vet had given him a shot of morphine, he just couldn’t seem to figure out what was going on. Finally at 6 am he laid down and I was able to sleep for 2 hours. At 8 I desperately had to get the goats and chickens out and fed. Goat’s don’t care if you’ve been up all night, they want their hay!
Monday was the start of crate rest. I took him out only for potty breaks. I would hold his hips and help him walk around the yard until he found “the spot” to go. I would spread his legs apart and get him in position. His back legs were completely limp, so I was his legs.
I made arrangements with my manager at work to work shorter shifts so I could be home to give him his medication, rearrange him (he needed to be turned every 3-4 hours to prevent bed sores) and take him outside. He knew when he had to go, but it was very short notice. When he whined to go out, I had to get him there right that moment or else. I didn’t know this the first time and he got very upset when he peed all over himself.
When I got home from work Tuesday he stood up to greet me. I thought my heart would burst from happiness. It was extremely wobbly and only lasted for about 5 seconds and he fell back down again, but he was standing.
By Wednesday I was getting worried because he wasn’t pooping. I found an awesome group on Facebook for dogs with IVDD and starting reading. I read everything I could. I started gaining hope because Dexter could stand for brief moments and his tail wagged. I learned about “expressing” a dogs bladder and his bowels, and tried to get him to poop. I put plain canned pumpkin in his food in case he was constipated. Finally I got the best piece of advice from a lady on the dog group. Just let him go. So I took him outside and I backed away. He stumbled and hobbled a couple of steps away from me and went. Never has anyone been so happy about a dog turd as I was in that moment. Apparently he didn’t like me hovering so close. I carried him back inside and back in the crate he went.
By Thursday he was walking. He sort of looked like he was drunk, because he stumbled and swayed a lot, but it was huge progress. By Thursday night he was convinced he could do anything and I had to keep yelling at him to stop him from running. On Sunday the vet told me he would never walk again, and here he was 4 days later ready to run. You can’t hold a good dog down.
He seemed stiff Friday and Saturday he was whining a bit. His legs are still working well and seem to be getting stronger everyday, so it is possible that there is more feeling in the nerves and he’s starting to feel pain again. He’s on pain killers as well as steroids for the swelling. I wrap them well in peanut butter and he takes them without problem.
We are hoping for a full recovery. Dexter is hoping to get out of crate rest. He hates it. I have to make sure the crate door is properly closed because he has become a master at escaping. One time I found the cat in the crate like some sort of decoy, and the dog was missing. I eventually found him hiding in the closet. He still has 3 weeks to go on full crate rest. After that we’ll start going for short walks to build his legs back up with crate rest in between. A total of 6 weeks is what we’re hoping for.
To help with boredom we’re been giving him uncooked soup bones to chew on. When I’m home and able to watch him he gets to lay on the couch and look out the window. He loves watching for the older lady that lives down the street from us. She walks by 3 times a day with her dog and Dexter loves to bark at her. Thankfully the pain killers make him sleepy so there are a lot of long naps in between.
I continue to pray over him daily. We have awesome friends and family who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers as well. We’re just taking it day by day, but we’re pretty sure he will make a full recovery.
Thank you Lord.
(This is my favourite picture of Hubby and Dex. Taken on an old flip cell phone. Hubby was so baby faced!)