Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pulling for Chickens

I have a terrible thing to report. On Saturday morning at around 4 a.m., we had to take our little Chickenbone to the animal ER with a back injury. A serious one.

This problem actually began a couple weeks ago when we noticed him acting sluggish and sad. We suspected he was feeling depressed about the baby, but when he yelped at being touched on his back or being held, we knew it was a medical problem. We took him to the vet, and an X-ray revealed a compressed disc in his spine. This is evidently a common problem with dogs shaped like Chickens - he has a long dachshund spinal column, but a stubby, thick torso that probably comes from his pug background. Chihuahuas are also known for having this problem, and he's a little of that, too. Genetics were not on his side. The vet gave us muscle relaxers and pain medication and sent him home.

He appeared to improve over the next week, even though he couldn't break one habit that surely made the whole situation worse: Chickens loves to jump off things. The sofa. The bed. The stairs in the back yard. Making matters worse, we have had dozens and dozens of friends and relatives here over the past month. People make Chickens absolutely giddy, so when visitors come, he climbs onto the couch arm to greet them - getting higher up, you see, improves his chances of getting a nice pat on the head. And then of course he leaps gleefully into the air like a little reindeer, before landing with a plunk on the ground.

Well, two nights ago I got up to feed Mia at around 2:30 a.m., and when I came into her room, Chickens was just standing there in the dark. One look at him and I knew something was wrong. While I changed Mia's diaper, I tried to get him to wag his tail at me by talking to him, but he just stood there. So I woke up Sal. Soon we realized that Chickens wasn't moving his back left leg. He was trembling, and he was arching his back and sticking his nose in the air. His eyes were wide, and he looked completely freaked out. We drove him to the ER where they told us his leg was paralyzed, and that the situation could get much worse unless he has a surgical procedure to remove the bad disc. An expensive and invasive spinal surgery seemed like it should be the last resort to us, and the vet said we could also just admit him and see if confinement and medicine could help his back improve on its own. We went that route, but when I returned yesterday morning at around 11, I could tell he was getting worse. The vet said he was now paralyzed in both back legs. He wasn't urinating on his own, and his poops were just falling out because he had lost bowel control. We gave the green light on the surgery, which happened yesterday afternoon.

The surgeon said there is a 50 percent chance Chickens will remain paralyzed in his back legs for the rest of his life. We simply won't know for many, many weeks. The surgery went OK, though we still have a couple more days before we are out of the woods on severe complications from that. We should be able to bring him home tomorrow, where he will begin a very long recovery period.

We are pretty devastated here today. Even though there are three of us here, the house feels empty without his little nails clicking on the hardwood floors and his slobbery kisses waking us up in the morning. Walking or not, we just want him to come home.


Robyn said...

Oh, Amy. That's so sad. I'm so sorry you and Chickens are going through this. I love Chickens as if he were my own wiener dog/pug/chihuahua. Please keep us posted.

T-shirt Face said...

We'll be thinking about you guys over the holidays. Positive thoughts for Chickenbone's speedy recovery, and for you and Sal and the new baby.

PRichards said...

How is that something so small, so slobbery, that doesn't talk - has us wrapped around their little paws? Chipper and I are keeping Chickens in our thoughts.

Anonymous said...

We're rooting for you and Chickens! Here is hoping that your little guy gets better ASAP.