I tend to get wordy so will try to keep this brief but it may not be possible because the discovery I made was serious. I learned something about Sasha one Sunday that had upset me beyond belief! In 2011 she had a Fibrocartilaginous Embolism (FCE) which is essentially a spinal stroke. How much ability they regain depends on how quickly they are treated. I was lucky as I took Sasha to Southern Maine where the only veterinary neurologist in the state was located. She was completely paralyzed in left rear leg and partially in hind-end. She was treated within 5-6 hrs of the FCE so made a good recovery, regaining approx 85-90% usage in left rear leg. She was released from the hospital 2 days later but I booked a hotel in the city for 10 days so that we could work with the canine physical therapist as there are none anywhere near me. She was wonderful; showed me step by step how to do various exercises, how to improvise and make some of the exercise equipment at home. Plus by staying locally Sasha was able to take advantage of hydrotherapy in her PT office. She told me what I would need to buy, what I *could* buy but it wasn’t critical, and what I definitely didn’t need. I took notes on my phone PLUS hand wrote things in a leather journal that coincidentally has become Sasha’s Journal. It’s beside me as I type this. My husband had just retired so he was primarily the one who did her exercises and he really worked with Sasha diligently. After recovering she still had *some* weakness in her left rear leg. Although it ended her Schutzhund training and competition, she still enjoyed a full, active life. Going with me as I snowshoe in winter, hiking in spring and fall and most important, her much-loved river swimming. Because of the FCE, Sasha would occasional knuckle her left rear foot. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means dragging the top of their foot on the ground when walking. She would also run in the fashion of a bunny so we called it her bunny hop. Last summer around mid July I started noticing some abrasions on the top of her left rear foot, meaning she was knuckling while in the river. It has quite a rocky bed so I cut back River Days to a 2 hour period, 3x weekly and kept checking her foot.
Following the FCE I took her back to the neurosurgeon several times for follow-ups, each time specifically asking if there was a boot, sock, brace etc that I could get for Sasha to help her weakened leg. He said no and told me she would probably develop arthritis earlier as well as stiff, thickened stifles. A term probably more common among horse owners, the stifle is the equivalent of a human knee. A stifle is the mother of all joints. Ok so flash forward to the beginning of 2016 when I noticed Sasha knuckling much more than usual. When she knuckled, her left rear affected leg would intertwine with her right rear leg and she’d plop down on her butt. You know the rest of the story ~ took her back to the neurosurgeon for an evaluation In March 2016. At first he said she had Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) but a DNA test ruled that out. Then he said she needed a 7k surgery which sent me into a whirlwind and basically going bonkers. Several days before surgery she woke up blind. We showed up on April 11 for a MRI of spine (I also had one done of her head because of the blindnessalong with oter diagniostics) after which the neurosurgeon entered the room with a stunned look on his face. She did not need spinal decompression as there was nothing to operate on. I had already researched SCT so requested it and she’s making slow but steady progress. I bought her a pair of boots at Planet Dog to see if it would stop the knuckling and for the most part it has. She actually walks very well in them however they keep coming off. I’d taken a short video that day and while it was uploading to YouTube I started Googling dog boots and what I found first shocked then infuriated me. There are several brands as well as a boot type brace that helps the dog reduce knuckling plus offers more stability to the leg. In a nutshell, it would be like me wearing support hose for mild varicose veins to keep them from getting worse for as long as possible. I even went so far as to see how long each of these boot combos were available and they’ve been around long before Sasha had her FCE in 2011. Yet despite me repeatedly asking the neurosurgeon AND my local primary vet, no one ever told me about it. I even asked my local vet as recently as 2015 ~ I have the note in her journal. So now, after sleeping on it and researching even more, I have to wonder if Sasha would not have encountered the problems she has IF she had worn this boot thingy to help stabilize the left rear affected leg. I mean look at humans; if we have carpal tunnel for example we wear a wrist brace. Unfortunately I will never know so I’ll continue to do her daily massages, passive range of motion exercises, have her wear the boot and hope for the best. I’m also contacting her internist for recommendations.
Why have I written this book you ask? Because what I’ve taken from this is no matter how great the reputation of the veterinarian is, no matter how many praises former and existing clients sing – get a second opinion! I’m not going to beat myself up over something that happened 5 years ago because I know I did as much as I could for Sasha. But going forward, if anything comes up with one of my dogs that is beyond routine, I’m getting a second opinion. Maybe I can find an article at one of the vet schools websites but knowing what I do now, I need to make sure I’ve covered all the bases.
I’m not a savvy blogger so unsure of menus, icons etc. Click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day. Please subscribe to her channel for all new videos.
💜Next up ~ putting the boot hunt on warp speed💜