Last Tuesday, without warning, our dog Chesney lost the use of her back legs. A trip to the vet and x-rays revealed what the veterinarian believes to be IVDD – most common in Dachshunds or other long-back dogs. Chesney is a German shepherd and while it isn’t as common, it can happen – out of the blue. Unfortunately she seems to have pulled the short straw.
The vet told us that Chesney would be showing significant signs of improvement after her pain diminished – she predicted approximately three days for something good to happen. Today is day 5 and we have seen nothing to provide us with hope that she will get any better.
This Is Hard
To be perfectly honest – this is hard. Almost impossibly hard. Beyond the emotional distress we are all experiencing watching our beloved dog struggle, is the physical challenge. Getting an 85-pound dog outside with a sling to potty is physically challenging – and that is putting it mildly.
Not only is it incredibly difficult to get her up and out the door, but her pee gets all over her tail and feet – so we have to continually give her sponge baths and wash her bedding.
Not even a week has passed and she has a urinary tract infection – the antibiotics may cause diarrhea. Diarrhea may be the end of me.
I’m in a dead panic because when the holiday break ends, my husband goes back to work and my kids will return to school. I am pretty sure that I am not capable to getting Chesney in and out of the house myself and I am terrified.
There is a ton of conflicting information about this – exercise her legs daily…don’t move her legs until she has had weeks to heal. Put her on steroids – don’t put her on steroids. Do water therapy – don’t bother. Stick with traditional pain meds and anti-inflammatories – avoid them and keep her on natural remedies to protect her kidneys and liver. Whatever we try, we will wonder what we did wrong if we had only tried the alternate option.
Not to mention – I have been called up for jury duty starting the first week of January. I have already deferred twice (I was scheduled to be out of town during the first time and the second time happened when my husband what changing jobs and we didn’t have a car because he lost his company car.) Will they let me defer again? Do they even care that I am taking care of a paralyzed dog? If I have to go, what will happen to her while I am away?
I am overwhelmed – we all are – it is terrifying and depressing. We are barely looking forward to Christmas – we are stressed and sad.
But the kindness
But I can’t end this on a completely down note. We are stressed, depressed and overwhelmed, but the kindness we have been shown is remarkable. The founder of the American Red Lion fund (who I have worked with to help raise funds for abused animals, as well as victims of natural disasters) graciously established a fundraiser on Chesney’s behalf. Strangers have given their own funds to help our family give Chesney what she needs – we are humbled by the kindness of people we don’t even know.
We found someone to administer cold laser therapy and acupuncture and she has graciously offered to come to our home to continue treatments because it is very difficult to get Chesney in and out of our house and car.
My sister has come to our house to sit with Chesney when we had to leave for a short time.
People have reached out via Facebook, email and text to offer words of encouragement and provide hints and suggestions.
I have been put in contact with a local woman who is going through the same nightmare with her own three-year-old shepherd, Mona. We are sharing stories with one another – it’s a positive outlet for share hopes, concerns and frustrations.
We are grateful to everyone who has donated, shared the fundraiser, sent messages of hope and words of advice.
We are doing our utmost to keep Chesney happy and comfortable. We bought her a new therapeutic bed, new toys, new chews, dog wipes and a sling harness (which sadly didn’t work much better than the towel that we were using).
We are praying for improvement, but wrapping our head around the fact that Chesney may be permanently disabled. We are hoping that things to get worse – that the UTIs don’t continue and progress to kidney infection…that the paralysis doesn’t travel up her body and impact the rest of her legs or her lungs. That she doesn’t become so depressed that she gives up completely.
Please keep Chesney in your thoughts. Thank you.
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Just an adorable game of hide and seek!
Hold me please