Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day 1888

How many dogs have a vet who is nice enough to make house-calls? I was delighted this morning when Dot's regular vet called and asked if I'd like her to come to the house so Dot could get an acupuncture treatment today. Acupuncture alone won't get Dot walking again, but it is very effective at releasing endorphins which can reduce stress and alleviate pain. Dot has always enjoyed her acupuncture therapy. It seems to relax her and leave her feeling better for the rest of the day. Even though she had one of her "stranger danger" barking episodes when the vet initially arrived, she quickly relaxed and almost fell asleep as the needles did their work.

I was hoping to hear some encouraging words about Dot's progress, but truthfully any progress so far has been minor and rather subtle. Dot can sometimes move her legs, but the rear legs cannot currently support any weight. I have to hold her legs up using the special harness that she wears almost all the time now. She appears stronger when something excites her. When she saw a car in the alley behind the house this morning, Dot wanted to go investigate like she usually does. She walked all the way to the back fence with me holding her up with the harness. If I hold the special harness just right and encourage her to walk very slowly, she can make somewhat normal walking motions. She attempts to move her rear legs forward too when she pees. I have to supply all the muscle for these efforts though. Unaided, she cannot get up, or walk at all. As soon as she gets a bit tired, she starts dragging her rear legs behind her even when I am holding them up with the harness. It is very discouraging. I've nursed sick dogs back to health before, so I know I have to be very patient. Keeping your expectations low doesn't make the job any easier though. It's easy to get very sad.

Putting Dot's dog bed next to our low platform bed worked out pretty well last night. Dot slept soundly and did not seem disappointed to give up her regular spot in the middle of the bed. Since Dot is taking prednisolone now, she can't make it through the night anymore without getting up to pee. After all we went through to cure her incontinence after the cancer surgery, I'm back to getting up in the middle of the night again. Having her sleep on the floor does make this process a bit easier. I don't have to wake up everybody else and getting her outside in time is pretty easy when she sleeps with her harness on.

Janet went to help with a Dalmatian Rescue event this afternoon, but it was no problem taking care of the dogs by myself. Typically, they just sleep during the day. At first I though that I'd have to have Dot next to me at all times, but I've discovered that I can use the baby monitor to keep an eye on her when I'm in another room. I'm going to have to learn how to manage on my own anyway. Janet hates retirement and I feel like it's just a matter of time before she goes back to work again. She's very good at what she does and people in her field are already trying to tempt her with job offers. I would welcome retirement in her situation, but that's just me. At the rate we're burning through money trying to keep these two dogs healthy, it would probably be good to have two incomes again anyway.

I have lots of vet friends and I often wonder how they handle the stress of seeing sick and dying dogs everyday. Vets have seen everything. My vet was trying to cheer me up this afternoon and she said, "At least Dot doesn't have Degenerative Myelopathy." This is certainly true, but not very comforting. It would be like going to my doctor about shoulder pain and having him say, "Well, at least you've still got a shoulder." I'm a good writer, but I think I'd make a very poor doctor.

I think about surgery vs. no surgery all the time now. Both choices have a reasonable chance of good or terrible outcomes. Basically, it's just a crap shoot.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day