Saturday, February 09, 2008

Surgery for Elvis

Yesterday our little dog Elvis suddenly started dragging his hind legs. He was paralyzed from his waist down. The day before I'd noticed that he was walking very stiffly and figured he'd hurt himself somehow. I rushed him to our vet who advised me to take him to Ames immediately. Iowa State University's School of Veterinary Medicine is one of the best in the country and I knew that many people take their pets there for specialized care.

So when DH got back from court, we packed him up and drove the two hours to Ames. Everyone there was so helpful and friendly. The two women who examined Elvis we later learned were just weeks away from graduating and becoming interns. Dr. Parkes, the neurosurgeon, was very kind and thoroughly explained what was happening to Elvis.

Apparently certain breeds of dogs, like shitz tsuz and dacshunds, have a predisposition to having ruptured discs in their spines. She said the discs harden or calcify and then any movement can cause them to rupture. Even going to the bathroom! The shreds of the disc were pushing against Elvis' spine, causing the paralysis. The only solution was spinal surgery to remove the fragments. Or put him down.

I'm not going to lie to you, we really thought hard about putting him down. The surgery will cost us $2,500.00. But we couldn't look into those beautiful eyes and trusting face and actually say "go ahead - we don't want him anymore."

So Elvis had spinal surgery yesterday. The doctor called last night when she was finished and told us everything had gone well and he was in doggie intensive care. He'll be in the hospital for a week then home for recovery for the next several months. He has an 80% chance of a full recovery. And, yes, it's possible that this could happen again. If it does, then, well, we'll face that problem if and when it happens.

If you'd ever told me that I would spend that kind of money on a dog before yesterday, I'd have told you that you're nuts. But how can you look at this face and not want to keep him close to you for just a little longer.


Alanna said...

Oh dear, may Elvis truly live forever.

My Lady has had surgery twice, the vet says "she's out of rear legs" so should be able run like the wind for the rest of her life vs being increasingly crippled from age four.

The best money spent ever.

Sally said...

Oh, God, THANK YOU Alanna! Elvis is only about 3 and I want him around for a long time.

mari said...

Sally, sorry you had to go through that. I too, used to think that people who spent money on expensive surgeries for their pets were out of their minds. They're animals! But now that we have a dog, I find myself rethinking those ideas. Good dogs are good friends, real members of the family. I'm glad Elvis is recovering well. Just think: when you leave the hospital with him you can truly say that Elvis just left the building.

Sally said...

Oh Mari! LOLOLOL Thanks for the laugh!!

Terri B. said...

Sally, I'm sorry to hear you had to go through this, but glad to hear that Elvis will most likely recover. Such sweet eyes he has!

Sally said...

Thanks Terri - he really has a sweet face, doesn't he? I'll tell you what - his brother (Dusty) is missing him terribly!

A wildlife gardener said...

Oh, I am sorry to read that, Sally. Our cats have cost us a fair bit over the years, though never as much as your bill.

Last week Titch, one of the strays, came to me with a tear on an inner flank which was causing him to limp badly. He was mewing in pain and looking up at me with sad eyes. What could I do but take him to the vet?

A two-week antibiotic injection cost me £25.20...and he's not my cat. The three strays belong to a family (with children) who live in the village. The adults don't seem to care. It's not the fault of the children who frequently come down our drive to stroke their cats..

The strays were so hungry they started stealing food from our kitchen and helping themselves to our cats' food. Next thing i knew, they had started sleeing in the barn.

I had a word with the mother but she said she didn't mind them in the I feed them now...but I'm not their owner. But the vet had to pretend Titch belonged to me in order to inject him :)

Either we are animal lovers, and don't want to see them in pain..or we're not. Titch knew I'd help him though.

It's just not fair, when animals get ill. They are so innocent and trusting. I hope Elvis gets well soon and gives you many more years of pleasure. He looks an absolute darling, bless him :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What a wonderful thing for mari to say. Such a kind laugh now and will be again when you bring Elvis home.
Gorn & I went through the same dilemma a few years ago. Until we were faced with the question, I also thought it was crazy to spend that kind of money. We simply had to do our best for our friend.
Here's to a speedy recovery!!

Sally said...

Tanna and W.G. - thank you SO MUCH for your kind words. It really does help. The hospital reports to us every day with Elvis' recovery steps and it looks like he will be able to walk again. Maybe not like a puppy, but walk and play. We miss him so much and can't wait to have him back.

Anonymous said...

poor Elvis, but hes such a tough little guy, you know hes gonna make it and run around with Dusty again to chase squirrels or rabbits. That is IF he wants to come home. You know hes got everyone at that animal hospital wrapped around his little paws and gets ALL the attention he wants, lol.

Sally said...

And (heaven forbid) CANNED dog food! LOL Thanks Bettina. Maybe I should bring Dusty over to play with Montana some afternoon this week. He's got cabin fever soooo bad! He can't wait until it warms up and he can stay outside all day.

tammy said...

Glad Elvis is on the mend. You're a good mommy!

kris said...

Oh my gosh - I need to check in more often - so sorry to hear about what you and Elvis have been through! Glad that all came out okay.

I hear you about the money. Kobie has recurring ear infections and is seeing a specialist (read: tons of money each and every visit). Now they've decided he may have allergies and want us to do testing. First step is to put him on a special food for 8-10 weeks. Of course, Tess has to eat the same food or the test won't be valid. So I'm now buying food for two big dogs that costs $50 for 18 lbs. Can you guess how long 18 lbs lasts around here? Exactly. But if we find the problem, that 100 a month will be saved in vet bills alone. I have located a place on the net that sells it for quite a bit less - thank goodness. And once we determine if food allergies are the problem or not, we'll start adding foods back into his diet - so he probably won't be on it forever. But still...if it's not one thing, it's the other! (Great - now I'm doing whole posts in other peoples' comment sections - sorry!) ((At least I didn't include pix - lol!))

Sally said...

Hi Kris - I hear ya on the ear infections! Our old cocker had those and skin irritation until the vet had us put him on lamb and rice formula. It helped a lot. We've got the boys on that now. I don't mind the long comments. I tend to do that too! LOL

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

So sorry I missed this original post! This winter has been crazy, I had to find out what was wrong with Elvis after I read you last post on him. Glad things are working out for the little guy. I am sure it was worth every penny.

I think we could do an entire blog about women and their dogs :).

Sally said...

Thanks Jenny - I know we could! He's slowly but surely getting better.