Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Shaggy Saga

He's hiding between the piano and the piano bench.
Protected by the vacuum.

Wow. It's been a year since we adopted Shaggy from a rescue foundation in town.
Can you believe it??

I mean, you were here when we bought all his stuff. He moped around for the first two weeks - - I mean, after the initial excitement of getting here. He was judged to be the best Laundry Pile dog - EVER.

And he's gotten good and spoiled over the year. He even has his on egress.

Some months back, he started to have a limp on his back leg. At the same time, he started tumbling and tripping on his nose. The Professor took him to the vet one saturday. The Vet, Dr. D., said that they were two separate conditions. (Have I told you this before?)

The back leg was most likely an injury...the front legs were a different story.
Dr. D told us that it could be a brain issue.
Or a spinal issue.

We eventually went to another vet. A surgery specialist.
He x-rayed the front right leg to see if there were any breaks. Nope.
He told us that it's common in Shih-tzus for them to have a disc issue. Or it could be like a partial paralysis if he's had a stroke. The Doctor said he could do the surgery in a day or two - and then Shaggy would be fine.

Excuse me?? Surgery??

The option was $1200 for a myleogram. If he found anything, he would fix it and it would cost us a total of $2400. EXCUSE? ME?? I can see doing the surgery if they were positive that it was going to fix it. But they still didn't know what was wrong with Shaggy....

So. We waited.
We went back to Dr. D twice more. The first time was for ear and foot issues. He suspected that our dog was itching his feet because of allergies. Seriously.
He gave us a flush for the ears - and steroids for the foot. and told me to give him Benadryl. We even got a lecture on it, that the dog was manifesting (My word, not his) the allergic reaction through his skin -- specifically his paws.
Dog with allergies.


only 2 paws.
out of 4. All 4 touch the grass...shouldn't all 4 be affected??

The feet were getting worse. He was chewing on them constantly. We got him an e-collar. Oh, my gosh, he's so pitiful. But he wasn't getting better.

So we went back to Dr. D's office. Only this time we saw his co-doctor, Dr. F.
We like Dr. F. She knows hamsters. She's sweet. We talked.
She suspected it was a neck/spinal/disc degeneration (because it can be common in shih-tzus) and he probably wouldn't get better without surgery.
She theorized that Shaggy was probably having shooting pain down his legs, which was causing him to chew on his feet.
She gave him his rabies vaccine and then had us do 'laser therapy' on the foot and the spine. We're instructed to keep giving him the steroids and benadryl.

At that point I was in a "Whatever" attitude.

I have laid hands on Shaggy - knowing that God can heal WHATEVER He has created. If He can heal Land - He can heal a dog. If He has His eyes on the sparrows -- Then He knows Shaggy. He did not get better. So I just tossed out to God, "If you're not going to heal him give me the money for the surgery. I want it by this date."

The poor dog wasn't sleeping well. He alternates between keeping us awake. Last week he bit us all - not bad, no blood, he was just really cranky and trying to gnaw on his feet. We were each trying to distract him.

My brother pointed out that for $2400 we could get several new dogs. The Professor just couldn't quite get his mind around the whole surgery thing. "If my finger hurt and the doctor immediately suggested brain surgery or spinal surgery, I'd have issues with that."

So we went to find another opinion.

We found Dr. B.
We like her.

They also asked me if I knew Shaggy's history. I didn't.
She and her assistant looked him over. If the dog's feet and ears were itchy that indicates a food allergy.

WHAT?!?!? -- Why didn't that cross Dr. D's mind??
She found a sore on his foot that the others missed.

We talked briefly about his stumbling and lack of reflexes. She said, "His legs aren't shaped normally. and look how splayed out his toes are."

They think he was a puppy mill puppy.

We were to treat the sore for 2 weeks.
She gave him an antibiotic shot, just in case he had managed to infect his foot.
We went home and he was slightly peppier that day. Then he started gnawing on his feet again -- and stumbling around more and more.

Thinking our only option was surgery, we asked for Dr. B to look at him again. I wanted to talk honestly about our options. We love Shaggy - but if surgery isn't going to fix it - we wanted to know.

She looked him over really good. He was running a bit of a fever.
We talked about his legs. She took x-rays of them.
Both of the long bones in his front paws are bent. There are spots on the bone in the curve that indicate poor nutrition during growth. They think he had Rickets at one point.

At his little doggy ankles -- he doesn't have as much calcium on the bones as he should have. So it's probably grating a bit.

I was really sorry that we had stuck with the other vet for so long. We felt some loyalty because of the rescue group. I told her about the other doctor's telling us about surgery explaining that we were really afraid of what our options were at that point.

She practically stomped her foot. "No! No! NO! His legs are malformed!!"

It's perfectly visible in the x-rays. Even I can see it.

Dr. B said, "He's a perfectly happy dog. He probably is so used to this with his feet that he doesn't know better. So we're going to work with what we've got and what we know."

She gave him a steroid shot that lasts a month. We're to give him doggie vitamins (he actually likes them!) and we're to return to him in a month unless he worsens. We'll re-shoot the x-rays in 3 months to see how he's progressed.

I would have been very sad to have to leave Shaggy at the vet that day. I had prayed about his healing, fully expecting it, and never saw a change. Having to leave him that day would not have caused my faith to waiver at all. But as I was leaving with a gimpy dog and 4 Burger King bound children, I realized that the reason we didn't get the money for the surgery was because it wouldn't have helped. If it's His legs.

So I grin at my clumsy-looking shih-tzu. I am now proclaiming his health and decreeing his bones to straighten and for him to absorb his vitamins properly. All the while knowing full well that God really does see him, inside and out. Even if nothing should change -- I'm exercising my faith -- and

well .....

Doctor B Rocks!


Melanie said...

You know, I'm thinking I may have missed my calling.. because when I saw the pics of Shaggy on your facebook, I noticed that his legs didn't look right. I thought it was perhaps the camera angle but I saw it in a couple of the pics... now if I, with untrained eyes noticed, how come a vet didn't?? Of course, with all I've been through with Jessie, who has a whole basket full of meds sitting on the fridge, maybe I could be a vet by now.

Mother Mayhem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mother Mayhem said...

Wonder if gnawing on my feet would make them feel better? No. Jack would probably put a cone on me.

Ollie (aka Cat) is allergic to flea & tick drops. Go figure.

Praying for Shaggy. :o)

(That deleted comment was mine. I hit publish only to see that it was riddled with errors. Sorry.)

Anonymous said...

Your comment about
2. Paws. Out of 4!
reminds me of myself...
um, so my upper arms tend to look like I've been given contact dermatitis. Mom asked the doctor why. He said that he thought it was from me crawling around on the wool carpet...

which doesn't quite cut it any more, 'cause I got through my first year of college with precious little carpet crawling. :-)