Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pixie - A Dog's Story

We've been a bit preoccupied over the last few days as my friends' little miniature long haired dachshund, Pixie, has been causing us a lot of anxiety.

She'll be 8 years old in December and I've been with her for about half of her life. They got her just as I retired and since then I've been able to spend 6 months a year here in America. I'm not a doggie person but Pixie melted my heart immediately and I now love her dearly.

The breed is very prone to having back problems but she's always been a 'jumper' and would love to leap up and down from chairs to get to us and her favourite place was to be on our laps. It was just impossible to stop her from jumping and we just hoped nothing bad would come of it.

Well it did.

She'd not been herself in the few weeks since we got to Florida and would go off to a quiet corner to lie down - which was new behaviour for her. Then a few days ago she became very lethargic and didn't seem to want to move much at all. We suspected it was a back problem so on Monday afternoon we took her to the local vet who agreed and said in a worst case scenario, she might need surgery. The first action was to take some pills and see how she got on.

The next day she did seem a little better and at 4pm we gave her another pill. An hour later when picking her up, she gave a heartbreaking cry as if someone had stood on her paw and immediately we saw that the vets words had come true. She was unable to move her back legs and would either sit when placed on the ground, or worse still, fall over. It was awful to see this happen and when she'd look up at us with her ever trusting and yet helpless and totally bemused eyes, it was impossible not to well up ourselves.

We rang the vet and he said to bring her in for a steroid injection and he'd see what needed to be done - as speed was of the essence to avoild total paralysis, if it hadn't happened already.

The diagnosis wasn't good. The vet said that Pixie needed to have surgery as soon as possible and the best man for the job (Dr. Max Easom) just happened to be nearby at an animal hospital close to Lakeland and so only 64 miles away. The only problem was it was now 8pm on Tuesday and if we just turned up at the hospital in the morning, there was no guarantee Dr. Easom would be there.

We had no choice and decided to go first thing in the morning, this morning.

Pixie settled down next to me on my bed for the night and I hardly got a wink of sleep as I was so worried about her. We'd been told to try and keep her as inactive as possible to minimise more damage to her spine. It was a long night.

We set off at 7am and got to the hospital at 8:25. It was a lovely bright cheerful and ultra clean place with staff who gently put us at ease. Sadly we were told the bad news that Dr. Easom didn't work on a Wednesday but we let another vet have a look at Pixie. Unknown to us, the staff contacted Dr. Easom as his speciality is dachshunds and he had operated on about 3000 over the last 30 years. Even though he had done emergency surgery on a dog at 5am and gone home to sleep, he realised that speed was vital in helping Pixie and came straight back in.

His examination and diagnosis concurred with everyone else and using a book of photos and a 3D model of the spine, he explained what had happened. Without going too deeply into it, the gel like protective tissue between one of the discs had most likely ruptured and the escaping fluid was pushing against the spinal cord and thus causing the paralysis. That's why time was critical as if the gel could be removed, a full recovery would be possible........even probable.

That JUST left the big question.......was he to go ahead with the surgery ? Why not, you ask ?

Well the cost was pretty steep and as with all major spinal surgery, human and animal, even if the patient survives the actual surgery, things can still go wrong and it could all be for nothing.
Given Dr. Easom's positive comments, his experience with this operation, his track record and finally looking at Dennis' face ( he just wanted his beloved doggie 'all fixed' ), he and Debby decided to give permission for the surgery to go ahead.

So we left the hospital about 9:30am and the plan was that surgery would take place almost immediately. We waited anxiously for the call and when it came, Debby gave us the thumbs up.
Surgery had gone well and Pixie was awake and alert. Of course it's too early to know if it all worked and she can use her back legs again. Time will tell and we'll ring again before they close at 6pm this evening.

So with this first step successfully completed, I'm going to break my own blog rule and post a photo of myself. It's not some egotistical thing, far from it as I hate any photos of myself, but it's the best photo I have of Pixie and I can't end this post without showing why she has worked her way into our hearts. To help with this I need scale and if it's one thing I can provide in a photo, it's scale !!!

And here we are. Pixie is the one on the right, by the way.

I can't pretend this was taken recently as, for one thing, I have hair ! But although I may have lost my way hair wise, Pixie is exactly the same.

Isn't she precious ???

Well we think so and fingers crossed, she'll be back with us late tomorrow or the next day and I can report that she's putting weight on her back legs.

We'll also be happy when she's able to pee and poop again but I also need to add myself to that.

I did say it was an anxious time !!


Daphne said...

A dog of character, clearly. Great choice of name for her! I hope she'll make a full recovery.

Daphne said...

Oh yes, and you can stop it about your hair. Look, hair is fine. No hair is fine. Either is fine. The only thing that isn't fine is The Combover. You haven't done that, so it's fine, okay?

krip said...

Hope Pixie makes a full recovery. Yes, she is gorgeous, but us dog lovers are biased anyway, aren't we?

Silverback said...

Thank you for the kind comments. We rang the hospital just before they closed at 6pm yesterday and the great, if normally not exciting news was that Pixie had pooped !
Given the way she has to use her back legs to squat just above the ground to perform this function, I'd have to think that's a very good sign.

As Mr. Mackay would say....."Pooping is Good, mmm'kay !!!


Leigh said...

She certainly is beautiful! Reading that post brought tears to my eyes. I havent read the update yet, so dont know how the situation turned out.

I have my own little black and tan Dachshund and love her more than anything. She's 7 months old, and we're trying to teach her not to jump as we're worried that it may cause back problems later on. The problem is that Dachshunds are such happy, jumpy little things by nature. :)

Dottie said...

She is a beautiful little girl. I have two little yorkie girls and they are my life. I agree, Dr Easom is FANTASTIC!! I know he saved my Precious' life. I am so happy that your girl is doing so well. Good luck to her and God bless you and your baby girl.

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