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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Sunday night, we awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of a restless Tinker. He was walking around our bedroom and seemed unsettled. We quickly noticed he was walking awkwardly. Actually, he always walks in a somewhat awkward manner, (a combination of spinal walking and normal walking), but Sunday night he wouldn't lie down for more than a few moments.

We immediately were stressed, fearful that he may have suffered another back injury. However, we also realized his right rear leg was retracted and that appeared to be the direct cause of his balance problem.

Before I go further, let me explain a little bit about pain response in a dog who has had a spinal injury. Normally, a dog who hurts his leg will retract it from pain, but the leg will relax in short order. However, a dog who has suffered a spinal injury, has, for lack of a better phrase, an over reactive pain response. Rather than having his leg go back to normal in a short amount of time, Tinker kept his leg retracted for the rest of the night and early morning.

It was a long night for all of us, (well, except for Virginia who snored away), as we ended up sleeping on the floor next to Tinker to get him to relax. We tried to crate him, but he whined- and it wouldn't help matters for him to be stressed. So he got onto the big square cushion/bed we have on the floor (in addition to their regular bed- variety is the spice of life) and we laid on each side of it to both block him off and keep him calm. (At one point I woke up with Tinker leaning against my nose.)

We called up the Animal Emergency Referral Association (AERA) on Monday morning, where Tinker had his back surgery, to make an appointment with his neurologist, Dr. Christiane Massicotte. Timing is everything and luckily Dr. Massicotte had just returned from vacation. We were also fortunate that there was an opening due to a cancellation in the afternoon.

Tinker was examined by Dr. Massicotte as well as the AERA's neurologist in residency, Dr. Jenny Scarano, and X-Rays were taken. The determination- Tinker's back was fine...Phew! However, he has a partial tear in his right rear Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). He had torn the same ligament in the Summer of 2006, but not to this extent. Thankfully though, it is a tear and not a rupture, which might have required surgery to repair.

So, his remedy is crate rest and a daily dosage of Deramaxx, an NSAID, whose use, like Rimadyl, has us very concerned. Steroids are not prescribed in this instance, so we somewhat reluctantly agreed to follow the prescribed course of action (We will be adding a Milk Thistle supplement to Tinker's daily regimen to help cleanse his liver of toxins.). Rest is the key.

In order to take make it easier for Tinker to do his "daily business", we are back to using the rear sling that we employed 3 years ago when Tinker injured his back. He took to it this morning just like old times and walked around balanced on his front two feet with ease. We on the other hand are suffering some forearm muscle aches we haven't in a while ;) . We have made one concession and that is to allow Tinker to sleep on that roomier square bed (instead of the crate) at night so he can spread out a little more.

Our first milestone is in 2 weeks, when we have a follow up visit at AERA.

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