Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Zane

It's birthday number 2 for Zane. It's hard to believe all that he has been through in a years time but he is a healthier and stronger dog for all of it.
Zane has now been to 2 underwater treadmill sessions. He has taken to it pretty well and has a nice smooth gait when he is being buoyed by the water. The tank gets filled almost to hip height. Since Zane holds his head lower than normal, they have to be careful to not get the water too high or his nose might dip down into it. He walked for 2 separate 2 minute sessions on Tuesday. We are working up to 3, 3 minute walks per session. It doesn't seem like much but walking in water is hard work. Five minutes in the water is equal to 40 minutes on land.
At home, Zane is taking one 8-10 minute walk daily. We will slowly increase the time walking as he is able to tolerate it. I allow him to wander the backyard freely as long as someone is there to stop him in case he tries to play. He has demonstrated that he can run quite smoothly now too. We keep that to a minimum though! He is building up his stamina by trotting through our small wooded area. When he is tired he comes up to the deck to lay on one of his mats under the umbrella.
Zane's progress is great. At his 4 week post surgery check up, his Dr stated that he is doing great neurologically. When you flip his paws over to check for ataxia, he flips them right back where they belong. Way to go Zane!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nearly 2 weeks since the latest surgery

Zane is doing very well. He has resumed eating and drinking but still hates taking all his medicines. He so hates his painkiller, Tramadol, that we have stopped giving it to him since he seems fine without it. The antibiotics are still a challenge to get into him. For a while, I was able to mix them in a little soft butter and then slap them on his tongue with a tiny spatula, clamp shut his mouth and blow a little air in his nose. They would slide right down his throat. One day however, he got his mouth back open just long enough to spit them back out. To show me just how much he hated the whole procedure, he spit them directly at me and nailed my whole side. I had Dane slobber mixed with (now)liquid butter and pills sliding all down my arm and leg. It was pretty nasty getting hacked on by my dog. He seemed rather amused as he ran off to the other room. I swear he acts like we are trying to poison him.
Zane's gait has been improving as well. It seems that his bionic knee is healing nicely and he doesn't limp on it anymore. He has returned to his favorite sleeping grounds, formerly known as my bed, and gets up and down on his own. We still keep him confined to "his" room (formerly known as the spare room) when we have to be out of the house. He even knows what it means when I tell him to go to his room and heads right in. He has a special Winnie the Pooh comforter that we got after the last surgery and he just loves to bury his face in it. He is also back to drinking out of the bathroom sink faucet. He just stands in front of it until someone gets up and turns it on. Sometimes he even does this in the middle of the night. Today he practiced climbing in and out of the tub (with my assistance and watchful eye) while Zoe and Zeke drank from opposite sides of the tub faucet. I have no idea where Daizy Lu was as she certainly missed out on all the tub fun. Had she known, she would have been right in the tub with Zane! I can't wait to get out the kiddie pool after Zane gets his staples removed. I bet Daizy will just love it!
Speaking of staple removal...tomorrow is Zane's 2 week checkup. He should be getting his staples removed as we find out what the next steps are in his recovery process. Hopefully, we will get to start doing rehab soon....keep those fingers crossed.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 2 & 3 post decompression surgery

On Wednesday, Zane had a relatively long night. We were up and down with him all night. He slept off and on most of the following day (Thursday). He made several trips outside for potty breaks but was unable to urinate. He didn't eat or drink all day. By late afternoon, I called our regular vet to see if I should bring him in for fluids. He suggested that might help with the bladder issue. I guess there is concern over bladder infections developing after spinal surgeries. Zane went to the vets and got some sub q fluids and an antibiotic shot. He was able to urinate when he got home...woohoo! The things we get excited over...
He even ate a can of food but still wouldn't drink anything. It was another long night for Zane and Greg and me as we all got up and down a few times. Now the whole pack is into this routine and everyone gets up. They all go out for middle of the night potty breaks and then rush back in to see if they can get any of the food that Zane won't eat.
Friday morning brought a much perkier Zane. He ate a can of food later in the morning and was much steadier on his feet as he made the rounds outside. He laid out on the deck for a while with his sun umbrella over him. Once he came in he was very sleepy. He slept for a long time and then had trouble walking again. I noticed that he was very warm, like burning hot. I checked his temperature and it was 104.4. I covered him with cold packs and a cool, wet towel. I made arrangements to bring him into the neurologists even though he was off for the day. I checked him 45 minutes later and he was up to 105, even with the cold packs surrounding him.
He was barely walking but managed to get in and out of the van for the trip to the vet. His vet, who was off for the day, just happened to stop in at the hospital and was able to check out Zane. He said that Zane was doing well neurologically. He was suspicious of a potential bladder problem and so advised putting him on Cipro and Cephalexin. That brings us up to 26 pills a day now, not including supplements. The vet techs showed me how to do the sub q fluids at home and off we went. Once Zane made it home, he went to sleep for a while. He did manage to potty outside before bed but he still wouldn't eat or drink.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Slightly overdue update...

So two weeks have passed and no word from me.... lest Zane be alone in his pain, I too have developed my own set of cervical issues. I guess it's the price to pay for getting Zane through all of this. I have a degeneration problem at C4-C7. Sound familiar? Yup, that's Zane's problem area too. So for now, while I get frequent chiropractic adjustments, I avoid the computer since that seems to aggravate my neck pain the most. Before I sign off to wallow in my own self pity, I will post an update on the Zaniac.
Backing up to Zane's knee issues....I took Zane out to Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary to see Dr. Clark and do a fresh biopsy of the knee. Dr. Clark showed me on the xrays where Zane's fall on April 24th caused the breakage of two little tines in his implant. His said that this was just a slight set back in healing. Damage to the implants could cause a feeling similar to a deep bruise. Zane took a pretty hard fall to break a titanium implant. He assured me that the implants were still secure and that the bone was healing all around them. Phew! He didn't even need to knock Zane out to do the biopsy. Zane is so good about procedures. He just stood there like no big deal. So pending the results of a bacteria free culture, Zane will be set to go for his final neck surgery.
During the time waiting for biopsy results from May 6th until May 15th when we saw Dr. Clark to draw a second biopsy, I saw days when Zane was more wobbly than others. The day we went out to Cary was one of the worst days for Zane. Without a doubt, we all knew that the second surgery would be necessary to relieve the pressure on Zane's spinal cord. I called Dr. Bergman and we scheduled the decompression/ laminectomy for Tuesday May 20th.
Over the weekend, Zane's knee continued to improve. Since he is on bed rest from the fusion surgery, we can't let him take any walks. I think this frustrates him a bit because he seems to feel pretty good most of the time. He gets up and down without wincing and seems relatively comfortable.
Surgery part 2 day arrived and I dropped Zane off at Carolina Veterinary Specialists at noon to prepare for his surgery. Dr. Bergman called me after surgery to let me know that Zane was in recovery. He said this had been a difficult procedure in that the area of surgery is in the deepest part of the neck. He prepared me for the possibility that this would be a set back for Zane. We would just have to wait until morning to see how much this would affect him and to be prepared as he may not be walking.
It was a long edgy night wondering how Zane would pull through this, his 3rd surgery in 2 months. One of Dr. Bergman's techs gave me a call first thing in the morning with a status update. Zane is up and walking! He's doing much better than expected. She said that they would like to keep Zane for one more night so that they could keep him on heavy duty pain meds. I set up an appointment to visit Zane at lunchtime. Two hours later they called back to let me know that Zane kept "breaking out" of his x pen in ICU to hang with the techs. Dr. Bergman decided to release Zane to go home since he was so mobile.
I picked up a very groggy Zane in the afternoon. He couldn't stay standing for long. I did manage to get him home and in the house on my own. He slept intermittently for most of the evening with one trip outside to go potty. He had a lot of hind end weakness but could get to a standing position with help. He clearly has neck pain. He is wearing a pain patch to give him a nice continuous infusion of pain meds as well as taking Tramadol, Gapapentin, and Metacam. So now we just wait and see....again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wobbler's Surgery Part 2

Today Zane is scheduled for the second part of his cervical surgery. This procedure is called a lateral laminectomy and involves shaving down a portion of a vertebrae or two to allow easier movement of the spinal cord. The surgeon will go in through the top of the neck for this procedure. The last surgery was done on the underside of the neck.

We are back from the vet hospital. Yes, we, meaning Zane and I. I asked the doctor to take an xray of Zane's knee that he recently had surgery on. He has been limping on it more now than he was a couple of weeks ago. They take xrays of his neck after the surgery anyways so I didn't think it would be a big deal to do the knee then as well. Well, apparently Dr. Bergman was concerned about the knee as well and he chose to xray it before doing the spinal surgery. It turns out that Zane still has a lot of fluid in his knee surrounding one of the implants. They think this is a bone infection. So they biopsied the fluid and will culture it to see which antibiotics will be most effective in fighting the infection. Zane was on 3 different antibiotics for 3-4 weeks after his incision had opened up.
This is not good news. I will wait to hear from Dr. Clark (ortho surgeon) regarding the next steps in clearing up this lastest development. Dr. Bergman (neuro) noted that the implants sometimes need to be removed to allow the infection to clear. Yikes! Meanwhile, he is back on an antibiotic while we wait for the culture to grow.
The spinal surgery has now been postponed. Dr. Bergman did not want to risk having that infection move over to the new surgical site. He was very pleased at how well Zane is doing right now. He thinks that we possibly may not need to do the second surgery. We will wait and see how he does while the knee infection gets treated. So for now, everything is up in the air.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gearing up for Round 2

Zane is having a great day. He woke up about 1:30am for some pain pills and breakfast. He then slept the rest of the way through the night. He has had several potty trips outside and is walking better all the time. On his second trip outside he decided to lay out in the grass for a while. I pulled up a chair and enjoyed some quite time in the sun surrounded by the pack.
Zane has even figured out how to roll onto his back again. This is his favorite sleeping pose. I can tell that he is really comfortable when he is on his back and his "happy" tail is wagging away.
I am hoping that I can get some food in him this evening. He won't be able to eat tomorrow morning since he has surgery in the afternoon. He hasn't eaten all day but I think it is in protest. He hates the taste of the Tramadol pills and I think he thinks I am sneaking them into everything he eats now! If he would just swallow his food whole like Zoe and Daizee he wouldn't have to worry about biting into those bitter pills! Not Zane, though, he has to chew everything he can spit out those nasty little pills.
Tomorrow's surgery is called a lateral laminectomy/decompression. This will involve shaving out the inside of C6-7. It will open up the spinal canal in that area to allow more room for the spinal cord to move without impingement. This surgery could take a little more immediate recovery time for Zane. He may not walk right away if there is a lot of swelling following the surgery. He will still have 2 months of total bed rest ahead of him.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Day 4

Zane is quite a bit perkier today. He is occasionally eating canned food and Nature's Balance dog food rolls. He really likes those dog food rolls. They are like a dry summer sausage. They seem to be the easiest for him to chew. He still seems pretty uncoordinated with chewing and getting food out of a bowl. Zane likes for me to spoon feed him his canned food so I willingly oblige him!

My biggest concern for him right now is his back left knee. He is favoring it and it creates problems for him when he is turning or getting up from a down position. Just a few days before his surgery, he fell down while barking. When he got back up, he held up his leg. I was concerned and called his surgeon but he was off for the day. The tech recommended upping his tramadol and felt that he was probably just sore from the fall. She reassured me that there is not much he could do to really mess things up from just falling over on his leg.

Zane spent a good part of the afternoon laying in the shade on the back deck. Our back deck has all day sun so we bought a huge umbrella to shade part of the deck for the dogs. It's 11 feet across and sways with the breeze. The dogs seem to love it. We throw a few beds out there and close off the gates so everyone can take an afternoon nap.

Zane's highlight of the evening was drinking fresh water from the bathroom faucet. I was surprised that he could comfortably move his neck that way but it clearly did not bother him. He was so happy with his fresh water that he repeatedly went to the faucet during the night for us to turn it on!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Day 3

This morning Zane had woken up in quite a bit of pain. Since we had to run Zeke into the vets to get his infected anal gland rechecked and drained, we decided to bring Zane in for a help me feel better shot. It wasn't the best day for this, a Saturday, and our vet was swamped. We had to wait an hour for the shot and Zane was totaled drained by the time we got him home. He was so drained that he couldn't even sit up to get out of the van. We got him out of the van and uprighted him, but his feet and brain were not working together. He just couldn't walk. We had to carry all 140 pounds of him into the house. We laid him down on his bed and he didn't even move. We hoped that we hadn't "broken" him carrying him into the house. I spent the next few hours napping on and off while checking to make sure Zane was still breathing. Any time he moved, he would groan and I would immediately wake up.

Later in the afternoon, I offered him some food and he ate a little. I was out in the kitchen cleaning up his dishes when he suddenly came charging out of the bedroom. He had to go potty in a big way. We didn't make it outside in time before he released his first #2 since Wednesday. We did make it out in time for #1 thankfully.

His energy seems to come in spurts like that. He went straight to his bed as soon as he got back in the house. The rest of the evening passed quietly. Thank goodness we didn't break him!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Day 2 Post Fusion Surgery

Zane is hanging in there today. He is tired and sluggish and not overly interested in food. He didn't drink all day until the evening. He has made it outside to pee a few times. He heads outside energetically but runs out of steam very quickly. Twice I ended up sitting in the grass with him while he regained the strength to make it back into the house.
The technical name for Zane's surgery (part 1) is cervical distraction/fusion of C4-5, C5-6,and C6-7. He had a diskectomy done at these sites while titanium screws, bone cement and bone grafts from his shoulder were used to put things back together. We paid over $400 for those wonderful titanium screws (all 24 of them). The bone cement was $268. He has a ventral midline incision (underside) of his neck with about 25 staples. He has 4 staples closing the site where the bone grafts were removed from his right shoulder.
It is a little challenging to put a harness on Zane since the front straps rest on his incision site but he doesn't seem to mind. Collars are forever off limits with Zane. They could reinjure his neck. Last week Zane's good Ruffwear harness broke so I ordered him two replacements and they just finally arrived today.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Zane is walking!

Good news this morning! Zane is already up and walking. The doctor says that he is doing as well as can be expected. Zane will stay at the hospital until early afternoon so that they can give him a few more doses of the really good pain meds. I am so relieved to know that he is able to get up on his own. I have been cautioned however, that next week's decompression surgery is the one that could set him back for a bit. So we will do a little happy dance for todays success and live in the moment!

Zane is home now and resting. He clearly has pain and he holds his head very low and stiff. He has made it outside to potty twice and ate a can of food for dinner. So now he has finally laid down to rest.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Big Day, part 1

Well today is Zane's big surgery day. I could not be any more nervous about this but I am focusing on staying positive. Zane's surgeon just called to say that he would like to do the surgery in two stages. He will do the fusion today and then next week follow up with the laminectomy. He feels this will be less stressful to Zane as the surgery to do both procedures is over 4 hours long. He would prefer to not keep Zane under anesthesia that long. He also assured me that we would get Zane back home as soon as possible. He appreciates that Danes are a rather sensitive breed and feels that Zane would be less stressed at home. I feel better already....

It's 5pm and I just got the call from the doctor that Zane's surgery went well. Zane is awake from the anesthesia and is resting. His xrays show that everything is as the doctor wants it. If he is not too painful tomorrow, he will be able to come home.

I can't even begin to say how different the mood of the house is right now. All the other dogs are so quiet. Zoe has been sitting by the front door just watching the world go by. Of all of them, I would think she would appreciate the peace and quiet the most. Zeke and Daizee have been playing together a bit but mostly just sitting out on the deck. This morning, Daizee was so sweet. She knew that Zane was not feeling well and she gently nitched up and down his neck with her teeth. She was giving him a little massage that he was loving. Then she cleaned his ears for him!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tomorrow is the big day

A little behind in posting....
Zane's incision has finally healed over and I am going to have what is left of his sutures and staples removed today. Last week, I started weaning him off the prednisone in preparation for his cervical surgery on May 6th. By the end of the week, he was getting really wobbly. He lost his balance while barking at our neighbors from the back deck and crashed down kind of hard on his back legs. He held up his bionic leg after the fall and limped. The following day, which was Friday, he still limped and acted sluggish. I put in a few calls to the vets on Team Zane and it seemed that everyone was off for the day. I ended up speaking with one of the nurses that cared for Zane after the TTA. She assured me that there is not much he could do to damage the implants and that he was probably just sore from the fall. She recommended that I give him additional Tramadol. She was great to talk to as she formerly worked with a neurosurgeon and is well acquainted with what Zane will be going through with his upcoming surgery. She was right on the money and the extra Tramadol had Zane feeling a little better the following day.
On Saturday, Zane's neuro surgeon, Dr. Bergman, left a message saying that we could move up the surgery to this week to prevent any further problems.
So here we are just a day away from what is to be hopefully the final surgery for Zane. He has been put under 5 times in the past 6 months for various tests and treatments. Hopefully this will be the beginning of stabilization for Zane.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

14 pills for breakfast

Zane is on a new antibiotic regimen to ward off any nasty bugs that may be hanging around his incision site. He is taking Antirobe, Doxycline, and SMZ. Add in some Tramadol for pain control and some Prednisone to reduce spinal swelling and Zane has quite a breakfast cocktail! Then we do it all over again after dinner.
Yesterday Zane went back to our regular vet in the afternoon. He did a nice job of restitching Zane and removed the loose dangling staples. Zane was nice and calm while the vet stitched him back up.
We finished off the afternoon with a small ice cream treat for Zane on the way home. We also stopped for carry out pizza...always a favorite with the pack. Poor Zane was going nuts smelling it all the way home.
We have officially broken in the new van now. Last week, Zane dripped blood on the new, overpriced mats and yesterday he enjoyed hanging his head out the side windows for a bit. Nose prints are on nearly every window and there is already a bit of fur floating about. Thank goodness for leather seats which have already been smeared with blood and covered with fur. They clean up nicely!
Today I should receive a new collar for Zane. It's called a "no bite collar" and is designed to stop licking. Hopefully, this should keep Zane from licking when I am not around. I have needed to keep a close watch on him lately so that he doesn't keep licking at his incision. Now I am just dying to get out of the house for a bit and not have to worry about coming home to an open wound.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Drip, drip, drip

And the leaking continues...
Dr. Clark, the vet who performed the TTA surgery gave us a follow up call yesterday and now this morning. He is concerned about the leaking as well. Hallelujah! We are not being overly neurotic. Dr. Clark recommends that we up the antibiotics. Thankfully, I have a good storehouse of antibiotics so we are adding in SMZ and amoxicillin to the Doxy that Zane is already taking. There is also a bit of an odor to the incision site which makes us think even more that it could be getting infected. I got the go ahead to wrap Zane's leg to keep him from licking at it. We are to change the dressing each day to make sure that no pus starts draining. I am really impressed with the follow through from Dr. Clark. I have never had a doctor, let alone a surgeon, check in so often and I am very thankful for his thoroughness and caring.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A leaky Dane

This incision site is driving us crazy! On Friday night, it looked like part of it had opened up so we took Zane over to the ER. Last thing we wanted to see happen was this thing tear wide open again, especially in the middle of the night. So we wait our turn and the ER vet looks at us like we are nuts and says the incision is fine and all this bloody serum drainage is normal. Fine, with tail between our legs, we pay the $83 bill and head home. Ok, so maybe we are just a little overly concerned. The incision never drained or opened in the week following surgery but supposedly this is all normal now...
Now on Saturday morning when we get up and check the incision, all is the same. Later in the morning, however, we notice that the stitches have come unknotted and are starting to unravel. Back to the vets we to hurry because they are only open half days on Saturdays. The vet throws in some staples and says not to worry. They waive the office visit fee and we pay $20 for the staples. In case you are keeping track, that is now $263 for the incision that won't stop draining.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

1 week + 1 day following TTA Surgery

So this morning around 9:30, I take a peek at Zane's incision and remark at how great it looks. It's healing up beautifully and the edges are sealing up. We head outside for a potty break and some fresh air. Come back in a little later and Zane settles down for a rest while I hit the computer to check the morning mail. A few minutes later, I hear big, slurpy licking that can only belong to Zane. I walk around the corner to check on him and there it is, a big pool of blood sitting in a wide open incision. I slap a maxi pad on him and some bandaging and headed out to the vets. Since we had just been outside, he was still in his harness and I still had on my sneakers so we were able to make a quick getaway.
Once at the vets, they recommend sedating him so that they can clean out the incision and resuture it. All goes well and I bring a very groggy Zane home a couple hours later. The rest of the night is pretty quiet while Zane slept off the anesthesia. Cha - ching, there goes another $160.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Day 5 Post TTA

Zane is doing great! I am so pleased with how quickly he is recovery from his TTA knee surgery. Each day, I have seen significant improvements. Today, he is able to get up fully on his own to stand and walk. He has no problem getting on the furniture to sleep. I guess with 3 weeks of a painful leg, he figured out how to get on the couch without using the sore leg.
The swelling in Zane's leg has almost disappeared at this point. I was pretty fanatical about keeping cold packs on his knee for 20- 30 minutes every other hour. The packs would actually be hot when I removed them. His leg is still pretty red but it looks better every day. We have started doing very gentle range of motion exercises to keep things limber. He doesn't seem to mind.
Today, Zeke even tried to entice Zane into a game of chase. Thankfully, Zane didn't even attempt to get up. There was a lot of rooing and smack talking going on but that was about it. That will probably be my biggest challenge....keeping everybody from wrestling and chasing. For now, they are satisfied with mouth wrestling and stealing toys from each other. A couple times a day, I pull out a big bag of toys and everybody plays romper room style. The we pack up all the toys and end the play session with a cookie break. I think it keeps Zane from getting overly bored. He is always ready for a good nap afterwards.
Speaking of naps...Zane has been sleeping so well during the day that he has been restless at night. He gets up and wanders, which of course makes me nervous that he may fall. I always end up getting out of bed myself just to put him back in his bed. So Saturday, I called my vet and asked for a sedative. The rx said 1-2 pills so I went light and gave Zane just one pill at bedtime. What a sweet night it was! He only got up once and that was just to reposition himself on a different bed in the room. Yesterday, though, he looked wasted all day long. His eyes were so red and droopy. The effects of the meds lasted from 10:15pm to dinnertime the following day! Despite sleeping most of Easter Sunday, he did ok last night (without a sleeping pill) and only got up once to go potty.
The potty breaks in the middle of the night are a pain because we have to get him in his harness and put a leash on just to take him in the backyard. Otherwise, anything that catches his interest will cause him take off running. He will need to be leashed for the next 2 months to take potty breaks. The prednisone is to blame for these late night sessions because it causes the dogs to drink a lot.
At this point, I am looking into rehab for Zane. He can start in another 10 days. I don't think he will need much in the way of physical therapy but I just want to make sure he starts to use his leg properly. I know that he will love the underwater treadmill. He has always loved to submerse himself in deep water. At just 2 weeks post surgery, his orthopedic surgeon will have him start a walking program that involves 5 minute walks, 2-3 times per day. Zane will have a 4 week recheck and then xrays at 8 weeks to check bone healing.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Zane and I left for Raleigh at 5:30 on Wednesday morning for Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas. Dr. Clark has become the newest member of "Team Zane," our group of doctors that work to get Zane as healthy as possible. Dr. Clark briefly explained the procedure to me and what to expect regarding Zane's recovery.
Zane and I went out for a drive and then waited at the hospital for another hour or so until it was his turn for surgery. He made several new friends out in the waiting room: Rosie the Golden, Diamond the Lab, and Chin Chin the Akita.
It only took a little over an hour for the surgery. Dr. Clark gave me a call as Zane was coming out of anesthesia to let me know that all had gone well. The diagnosis for Zane included a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament and medial meniscal cartilage tear. He said that Zane could head home at dinner time if he was up to it.
I stopped by the hospital at 5:30 and the nurses let me know that he was doing well but that they were unable to get him to stand. They said that I could leave him for the night or try back later. I offered to get him standing if I could be allowed out back to see him. As soon as he saw me, he wagged his happy tail and started to get up. That's my boy! I headed back up front to pay the bill ($2100) while they cleaned him up for discharge. It took 4 nurses to walk him up front and get him in the van. Zane was great about it the whole time.
Zane was starting to get painful towards the end of the ride home. I suspect that his pain blocks were beginning to wear off. From personal experience, I know how rough it is when that transitions happens. He cried most of the night and we were up every hour or so to comfort him.
By morning, he was pretty sluggish and not willing to get up to go outside and potty. He refused all food and water. I gently "shoved"his pain pills down his throat to keep him on schedule. He takes 2oo mg of Tramadol every 8 hours. It is his only option for pain control since he is also on Prednisone (a steroid). I checked his temperature and he was at 103.3, with 101 being normal for him. I gave the hospital and call and talked to one of the nurses. Dr. Clark immediately called back and agreed that I should take him to my regular vet for sub Q fluids if he didn't start to eat or drink by afternoon. He even gave Dr. DeQuick a call to let him know Zane's status. I love that kind of follow through!
Zane and I headed back to bed to catch up on our sleep. At 11:45, Zane woke up and attempted to stand. He was ready to go outside! I got him saddled up in his harness and used the towel under his stomach to guide him and we headed outside. Thanks goodness for the ramp. Zane did his business and then came right back in. He collapsed as soon as he got in the doorway. I made him lunch and he happily ate it so I knew we were back on track.
Dr. Clark called again in the afternoon and I was able to give a much more positive report on Zane. Dr. Clark stressed the importance of not letting Zane stay down too long or we might risk him getting pneumonia. Yikes, been there before with Daizee Lu. Well, Zane must have heard him because he made it in and out several more times during the afternoon and evening.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time for another roadtrip

Zane and I are all geared up for another roadtrip. Tomorrow we are heading to Raleigh to meet up with Dr. Clark of Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas to talk about a TTA surgery to repair Zane's torn CCL. If all goes well, Zane will get this surgery in the afternoon. The TTA procedure uses titanium implants instead of the steel plates used in a TPLO. The procedures are quite different. The TTA offers a quicker recovery which is really important to getting Zane up and moving again. I'll post more about the procedure and add up some links soon. We will be spending the night and hopefully returning on Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Coming up to breathe...

Well, it's been a week since all hell broke loose. Zane is now walking again or rather limping, since his knee is still painful. Zane made steady improvements each day as the inflammation from the myelogram subsided. By Thursday evening, he was able to walk out to the backyard with assistance. By Saturday, he was able to walk around the yard on his own.

Some of the things that I have learned about caring for a dog with sudden medical issues....

1) Teach your dog to eat from a spoon or fork while he is healthy. When they are extremely ill and lose their appetites, they associate spoon feeding with especially tasty food treats from their humans. My dogs always know they are getting something great when it's on the end of a fork (like yummy scrambled eggs). Also, since Zane couldn't bend his neck, he had no way to get the food from the bowl. He had trouble chewing too so we relied on good, holistic canned foods. Another food we like is by Nature Balance. It's a semi moist dog food that comes in a long tube. It looks like summer sausage and is somewhere between a canned food and dry kibble. My dogs love this food. It smells great and is easy to feed since you can cut off slices for feeding. I will never be without this food in my pantry for feeding emergencies.
2) Build a ramp so you can get your dog in and out of the house without struggling up stairs.
3) Get a good harness like the Ruffwear webmaster. I should earn a commission on the sale of these harnesses since I am such an advocate for them! LOL We were able to lift Zane up and into a standing position with this harness. We could steady him while he tried to walk and offer him support so that he wouldn't fall over.
4) Keep dog diapers on hand as well as waterproof crib pads. They will save your dog beds and carpeting from the inevitable leaks. "Depends" also makes a disposable absorbent pad that you can place in the areas that the dog sleeps.
5) Crib mattresses can make a wonderfully waterproofed dog bed for a Dane. Cover it with a crib sheet and it will blend in with any decor. It's also cheaper than most dog beds ($40 in Walmart).
6) Just like with a newborn, sleep when the "dog" sleeps. For some reason, sick dogs seem to be more restless at night. The first night that Zane came back home, he was awake and trying to stand every hour. I eventually slept on his bed for a while with him!

We are gearing up now for the surgeries. I am looking to schedule surgery to repair the knee first. We feel it is important to get Zane walking on all four legs before we do the neck surgery. Zane can potentially have difficulty walking for 2-3 weeks post surgery (neck) and I will need him to help himself as much as possible. Since Zane will be down and out recovering, he won't be putting any additional stress on his neck. About a month later, we will go ahead with neck surgery. His knee can continue to recover while his neck heals as well. I am still searching for a local surgeon to perform the knee surgery. I would like to use a new technique called a TTA. It promises a speedier recovery..... You can read more about the procedure at

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The MRI that didn't happen....

This week sure has started out with a bang. On Monday morning Zane had his first color echocardiogram. I felt that it was important to assess Zane's overall heart health before he undergoes anymore anesthesia. With two potential surgeries in the near future and a MRI, Zane will be "put under" quite a bit in a short time. The echo went well and there are no signs of potential problems. That was a huge weight lifted off my chest. I know that he is not out of the woods, however, as dilated cardiomyopathy can strike quickly and without warning even when there are clean echos. For now, I will focus my worries on other issues.

Zane was scheduled for his MRI to take place once we finished the heart testing. The Dr called me about 30 minutes after I left Zane and told me that he could not do the MRI as the gold beads were interfering with the imaging. I questioned him about this before we ever scheduled the appointment but he said that he had done it before. Dr. Durkes was adamant that a MRI could not be done on Zane. He said that the beads have a magnetic quality. Apparently, sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. Zane has over 300 beads in his neck so I would bet that caused quite an issue for the machinery.

Since we couldn't do the MRI we agreed to go ahead with the myelogram. We knew there was a strong chance that we would have to go that route in order to get the answers we need. Dr. Bergman told us that we would need to leave Zane for the night so they could monitor his reaction to the dye and make sure he got everything flushed out of his system. He cautioned us that sometimes a dog's Wobbler's symptoms could be made worse by the procedure but that it should clear up in a few days, with less than a 1% chance of a fatal reaction.
Dr. Bergman called us a couple hours later to let us know that all had gone well. He sees atrophy of Zane's spinal cord at C6-7 that he is very concerned about. The problems at C4-5 and C5-6 are not as severe but could get worse over time. He requested a radiologist to review the findings and offer a second opinion.

The following morning (Tuesday), Dr. Bergman called us as we were on our way to pick up Zane. He told me that Zane was doing much worse than the night before and that he could not lift his head or even sit up. He said that we could leave Zane there longer for follow up care or if we were up to it we could bring him home. We immediately elected to bring him home. I know strange environments can be very stressful to dogs. Danes are very susceptible to stress and can even bloat as a result. We felt he would do better at home. They wheeled Zane out on a gurney and as soon as he saw us he gave a little tail wiggle and sat up. We got him loaded into the van and headed home. He had not eaten at all while he was there so I stopped on the way to get him some extra tasty foods. He did not move for the entire hour that we rode home. I worried about how we would get all 132lbs of him into the house. He could not even sit up for more than a minute. He was dead weight to carry in. I have no idea how I got the strength to help Greg carry Zane up the front steps and into the house.
Zane spent most of the day sprawled out on his mattress in the living room. We could not leave him alone at all. He would try to get up and flop over if we were not right there to lay him back down. He was so pitiful and we wondered if he would ever get back up on his own.
I fed him canned food and warm broth throughout the day. We put him in diapers and spent the rest of the day cleaning up urine leaks and doing loads of laundry! All the other dogs were very quiet for the day and cautiously sniffed him whenever they passed by. Daizee could often be found laying nose to nose with her best buddy. I gave him 100mg of Tramadol every 8hours and 40mg of Prednisone once daily. I have learned that Prednisone should always be given in the morning to mimic the body's own natural cycle of cortisol production.

As if all that wasn't stressful enough, it rained all day. By early evening, a tornado watch had been issued for our area. The winds picked up around 7:30 in the evening and I started to get stressed/ panicked that something was about to happen. I have awesome intuition. It's generally pretty dead on. Within minutes of coming back into the house to warn my husband that large branches were dropping on the house, two 75' tall pine trees came crashing down across our driveway and landed parallel to our house. Our 2 vehicles were crushed. Our car is only 1 year old today and the van, well it's a '95 but it's like gold to me. I use it to do dog rescue and for transporting all 4 of my dogs. The "totaled" value of it is only $1500... but for the purpose it serves, it is probably worth more to me than the car. I can't exactly replace it with that kind of payout. So now I guess we will be car and van shopping very soon.

We headed off to bed with heavy hearts. Talk about having a bad day.....

Friday, February 22, 2008

Catastrophy strikes

Seems like with a Wobbler's dog, you are always waiting and watching for the "what next?" Well, I got the what next on Wednesday evening. Zane was outside hanging with the pack. I was calling them in to the house when I noticed Zane fall and yelp. He didn't get back up. I ran out to him and steadied him as he tried to get to his feet. I knew immediately that it was one of two potential problems. Either he had hurt his back and a nerve was pinching and messing up signals to his leg or he had torn his ACL.

My vet had already left the office for the day so I had to decide whether or not to head out to the ER. We've been to the ER with our dogs before and have concluded that unless it's life threatening, it's not worth the money or time. We're glad they are there for emergencies, but it best be an emergency and therefore worth the money. Zane did not appear to be in pain as long as he was off the leg. We decided that we would wait until morning unless he worsened overnight. I even let him sleep on the bed so that I could keep an eye on him.

He made it through the night ok and we took him straight to the vet specialists/ER first thing in the morning. My hope was that we would get to see an orthopedic specialist and/or our neurologist in the event that there were any issues diagnosing Zane. We got lucky as they put Zane right in with the neurologist. He watched Zane limp along for a few minutes and then did a few checks of the leg. With a heavy sigh, he confirmed my suspicions of a torn ACL, no orthopedist needed for this diagnosis.

Now, I have been through two torn ACL's already with Zoe, the Lab and I think I know a thing or two about their treatments. No problem, "so when can we schedule his TPLO?" I ask. Then the ball drops...Zane is not a candidate for surgery. His Wobbler's is viewed as being too unstable. What??? I thought Zane was doing pretty damn good. Not so says the good doctor. The fact that Zane is still on Prednisone shows that he is not progressing and therefore is not stable.

Now starts the flurry of questions. Dr. Bergman suggests stabilizing Zane's neck via fusion surgery and some other procedure, the name eludes me, that involves cutting down some bone to allow the spinal cord to move more freely. Yikes...back to square one. He spent a long time fielding questions from Greg and I (much longer than my initial visit back in Sept) and gives us some technical papers regarding the procedure. He urges us to take our time thinking about what we want to do next as he doesn't want to rush us into a decision. We scheduled an appointment for a MRI, which he assures us he can do despite the gold beads being in Zane's neck.

I also scheduled an echo cardiogram for Zane. I have been learning about dilated cardiomylopathy (DCM) in Danes. In order to know if your dog has any heart issues, you need to do regular testing. It's recommended to do a baseline echo at 18-24 months. Once a dog shows visible signs of heart disease, it it usually to late to treat it effectively. I had an echo scheduled for March 17th but now I have moved up the date. Before I make any big decisions about such major surgeries back to back for Zane, I want to know that his heart is stable.

So now we wait for those tests to guide us further.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Zane has done pretty well for the past six weeks. Up until two weeks ago, he was taking 20mg of Prednisone daily. Then I started tapering his dose to 10 mg daily per Dr. Durkes instructions. The past week has seen some changes in Zane's stability and he even had one day of knuckling under with his front paw.

I am using his orthotic brace now for his outside time to help protect and stabilize his neck. Up until now, I haven't used the brace much with Zane. He clearly does not like it and goes running in the opposite direction when he sees me pick it up.

One of my biggest challenges is keeping control over the amount of playtime between Zane and Daizee Lu. Daizee clearly loves Zane and plays with him every chance she gets. Once outside, they are like Titans clashing up against each other one minute and then rolling in the clay dust the next. After a rousing play session, they like to commandeer opposite ends of the couch for a good long nap together.