Deb D’Andrea - 4TheLuvOfDogz - Nederland, CO
The month of October has been especially difficult for us at my house, the Caribou Dog Ranch; along with trying to help friends who are affected by the flood. This story started back on June 16th when Tiki, Bear and I were house sitting, and Tiki was tripped by another dog and rolled down a full flight of stairs pulling both her inner thigh muscles, fracturing her left rear toe, landing on a stair edge with her spine, tweaking her neck and knocking her jaw out of alignment. Tiki was in so much pain at the base of her tail, she must have landed hard on her butt area and I took her to her Veterinary immediately.
For the following week we put her on anti-inflammatory and strong pain medications to help ease the pain of her fall. After that week and for the following month, Tiki appeared to be returning to herself, but I could tell something wasn’t just right.
About a month later, I took her to my friend Matt who is a specialist in non-invasive surgery, orthopedics, neurological and abdominal/chest surgery because I was starting to see neurological signs that didn’t make sense. Matt and his neurologist, Maggie, said what I was seeing may be due to the pain she was experiencing from her lower back and butt area from the fall, with the pain transferring up her spine causing slight, almost unnoticeable single front foot neurological issues. We continued with the anti-inflammatory medication along with as needed pain medications. Tiki seemed to improve again, but then come September I noted random off balance issues, she stopped jumping on the bed and sofa, and overall her motion was becoming limited.
Tiki would have her good days and her bad days; then good weeks and bad days; then a good month, and a bad day. Nothing was consistent and what I was observing was very random. She was off all the drugs from the end of July through September. Then, on October 1st Tiki tripped on a single step, her front feet coming out from under her, she landed her chest and lost all ability to walk. She was unable to lift a paw, a leg; unable to crawl or move. When I picked her up to put her in the car, her legs hung like a slinky just pulled out of its box. I was horrified, she was a downed dog.
I rushed her to Matt and Maggie, a two hour drive because the canyon was closed. Tiki, my awesome girl, my soul mate, the reason I started 4TheLuvOfDogz, and a huge part of Bear and my life had lost the ability to move. You could see in Tiki’s eyes she didn’t understand why her body wasn’t listening to her brain, she was stuck inside her body and she was scared.
Once arriving, Tiki was rushed into the hospital and they started performing neurological tests on her (like gently pinching a toe to see if she tried to pull away, and she did). Her body was responding to the tests as it should; her head responded to the tests as it should; but her brain wasn’t able to talk to her body! So now we need to figure out what’s going on and scheduled her for an MRI at 6AM October 2nd.
The MRI showed there was an unknown ‘mass’ at the base of Tiki’s skull where the head connects to the spine or the atlas and axis region. The unknown substance was intermingled between this area where the connection is, where lots of neurological communication happens and more than likely answered the “Why” question for what Tiki was experiencing. The next question was how to determine the “What?” We had no idea what this ‘mass’ was.
October 3rd Tiki went under again so the team of specialists could attempt to extract some of the ‘mass’ to perform a biopsy, the only way we could determine what we were dealing with. They used the same technology they use to aspirate lumps in other parts of an animal’s body to be as un-intrusive as possible as this is a very critical region. They were successful in extracting the ‘liquid!’ Off the biopsy went to CSU. Then we waited.
October 7th we received word. It wasn’t cancer, it wasn’t an infectious disease, it wasn’t synovial fluid, it wasn’t spinal fluid, it was a thick unidentifiable liquid. The radiologists and pathologists were stumped. Everyone wanted to know the answer, “what”? Maggie had connected with several other specialists throughout the United States and discovered there have been two other dogs in the United States in similar situations over the past thirteen months; one just two months ago; none in the same part of the United States.
We put Tiki on the same drug therapy the dog of thirteen months ago was on, and who recovered completely in hopes we’d see the same improvements in her. I was able to bring her to my friends house in Boulder as the Canyon was still closed and I didn’t want to be far from the Vet’s office; returning home to Nederland October 8th.
Today, October 21st, I am thrilled to share with you that Tiki is walking, even jogging some, continuing to improve daily. She’s happy to have her body back and is on the road to recovery. While we still don’t know the ‘what,’ I am grateful on so many levels, for her, for the doctors, for my friends and so much more. I am looking forward to spending many more years with my Tiki and Bear.
Till next time…Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides mobile Canine Massage, PawQuatics, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available direct. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or firstname.lastname@example.org.