I have just recently found this site, unfortunately under these circumstances and not better. So for a little introduction, I have a 6.5 year old female doberman named Nova. I've had her since around 9 months, taking her from a breeder who did not breed her but had gotten her to breed with but thought she was too small (I don't remember the name but I wouldn't buy a dog bred by this lady but who knows I did not research her). She ended up around 68 to 70lbs, perfect size IMO, so I don't know what kinds of dogs she wanted. In that time the only time she has been hospitalized was when she got spayed, excepting of course this current situation. Needless to say she is the world to me and has been by my side for some of the most tumultuous times of my life.
My parents have recently purchased a home in Florida, and I had flown her (her first time flying) and myself down there for Christmas/New Year holidays. I took her out for a walk in the late morning..uhh I have tendency to sleep in during holidays and well so does she haha..anyway, at the beginning of this walk we turned around a bend and there was man on the other side of this isolated little section with two German shepherds off leash, both easily over 100lbs. They came running up to us ignoring their owner, paused about five seconds five feet away, and then male went lunging for Nova's throat and the female started nipping at my dogs back legs. I kicked the male in the stomach, he backed off her throat. A dance of sorts ensued, the dogs basically ignoring me (thank god not attacking me) yelling no and trying to get in between them and my dog, and Nova started growling and fighting back as best she could leashed, outnumbered, and outweighed. She eventually got knocked into and fell/flipped over the leash (I should have dropped the leash in retrospect but I didn't even realize I was still holding it) and the male went diving for her throat again and the female her stomach. Seeing this as he was just grabbing hold I kicked the male in the stomach again as hard as I could possibly manage, getting ready to try and see if I could break a back leg if that failed but fortunately he yelped and backed off a lot, the female following his lead. The owner at this time leashed his dogs...he never even came near me though he ended up on the other side of me. He murmured a sorry at me and started walking away. (Yes wtf, but as I found out later he, though 21, is what his parents termed "slow", which I could see when I saw him up close. He also informed me that the male was so aggressive towards other dogs they could not bring him into the waiting room at the vet, and had to leave him in the car until they could bring him in a back door to his own room. But he was so surprised that Shadow, the female, attacked too and he was on the phone...that was why it took him so long to do something and this altercation lasted so long. And his parents told him he could take the dogs off leash in that area. My anger over this is...there are no words, and certainly none that are appropriate to post here and they had the balls to be angry that I called animal control). That being said, I checked Nova out, and while covered in slobber and I found some blood on her shoulder that I do not think was hers, I could find no puncture wounds miraculously enough and she seemed fine if slightly shaken. A closer inspection later I noticed a lot of bruising on her belly, legs, and noticed later when she went in for surgery when they shaved her neck, on her neck. She was also limping occasionally favoring her right front leg and dragging her back paws similar to the wobblers gait. However my dad and the animal control guy and others were like oh she's just stiff but she's fine. I called the vet for an appointment and they were like oh we can see her in a couple days. Alright whatever fine. I should have been more urgent.
The next morning she had trouble walking down the stairs with me, took two steps outside and then went right to her bed in the living room. I saw this and was like no, there is something wrong. Maybe she broke a foot or something. I called the vet and insisted and they were like fine bring her in we shall see what we can do. I had to lift her into the car, wouldn't let her try, and arrived at the vet about ten minutes later. I placed her down on the ground and she could not support her weight, back legs moving out weird and her front paws knuckling over. I carried her in and 90 minutes later the vet saw her, she couldn't support any weight really on her legs, her front legs stiffly locked out. We end up rushing her to a specialist hospital about 40 minutes away, by the time they examined her she was paralyzed completely in all four legs and had no deep pain response that they could observe...but she could still move around her neck comfortably which was and is bizarre. An MRI later, and they found two slipped discs. One, a newer one and acute which would require surgery from below the spine and another one older lower down the neck which would require an approach from above the spine. They could only operate on one at a time, suggesting the newer acute one probably cause by the attack, with a guarded prognosis saying about 50% chance she will be ambulatory again. I said go ahead, and the operation went ok.
In the weeks since she has gained control over her bladder again, gained feeling again immediately after the operation actually, and she can move all of her legs but her front ones still get stiff and lock out. She can bear a little weight on her back legs when held up, but she still has no real proprioception with her paws knuckling over and she is unable to correct it. I had to take her from the hospital she was at in Florida and drove her up here, to the Albany region which was..trying. She is now in a hospital here going through a rehab program. They seem decent, working now on trying to get her able to get up into sphinx position and I visit her everyday. Just started with this game of sorts where I help hold her in a sphinx position of sorts except her front legs are locked out kind of like superman and her back legs are relaxed to the side, and I place little treats around just a little out of reach and it forces her to move her neck around and stretch it. Also some work on a medicine ball with a harness and some attempting to do work in the water but she HATES water so it's difficult to get her going with that. So, some good signs, but the reality also is that she is still badly affected about three weeks out from surgery, and being as I live alone she has to be kept in a hospital still full time. At a rate of about $200 a day, plus $7000 already paid out for the MRI, surgery, drugs, and previous hospice care in Florida. Fortunately I am able to cover these costs, and the guy who owned the German shepherds (not his son who was walking them) says he will cover the bill (actually he said he would buy me a new dog and I said no, you're covering the vet bill) , but well these are my concerns that I am asking, begging really, for suggestions, advice, what you would do in my position kind of thing from other doberman owners.
1. First and foremost, am I doing the right thing by her and not just being selfish in my desire to keep her with me. At this point in time I feel pretty strongly and confidently I am, though at points in this journey I was uncertain because well nobody knows how this will turn out. She might start walking any day now or might not. I can see that right now she is not ready to be put down, she is fighting like hell to get up, at points there is this kind of despairing and temper tantrums of I'm not going to even try for a little while but she has always put effort into it again. However how long this will last, I don't know. I like to think I can intuit a lot of what she is feeling after so long and being so close but I also do not want to be delusional. So, for anyone else who has been in the unfortunate situation of needing to put their dog to sleep, what were the signs that made you realize that it was time? I am completely optimistic at current for her, I do not want to put her down, but I am also trying to brace myself and gauge honestly. She could keep living in this state for a very long time, even improved from her current condition, but it is no kind of life for a dog, not being able to walk at all. And I want to be as certain as I can that she is still on board with this.
2. The second site of a slipped disc that was not operated on is still a mild concern and some discussion has been made if it would affect her recovery or its situation had changed since having decompression surgery on the first site. At this point in time since she is still improving by just the tiniest bit everyday, I have made the call to leave it well alone for the time being since she obviously had it prior to this experience and it was not affecting her adversely in any significant visible way. But there is an option to get another MRI at some point to see how the first site is healing, if there is irreparable harm there and to see if the second sites condition had changed at all after operating on the first. This would cost $2000 though and while I do have funds set aside that can still cover this, they are not unlimited and that's ten days worth of rehab and hospitalization. Again another thing to take day by day but anything, any sign that maybe this is an issue that should be addressed or if anyone has any experience with such a thing. No doctor has said the word yet, but would this second site be something akin to wobblers that would need to be considered? I am only mildly familiar with the disease and how it works.
3. When to bring her home. One of the ways I can cut costs is if I bring her home for the night, and then drop her off in the morning and leave her for rehab during the day. Now, I am a full time student at current, live alone in an apartment, and I also volunteer for night crews on an ambulance so those nights I'd probably have to keep her or bring her to the station with me. Obviously I'd need her to be able to go to the bathroom without needing two people for assistance as she does now. But I was wondering how much better shed have to be for me to handle her. I can lift and carry her on my own, and I am looking to get a wagon, if anyone has any suggestions for that, and I did get a halter from helpemup.com which has made it easier to move her around. So anyone who has any suggestions for ways and things that might make it easier for me to handle her on my own for the night and eventually hopefully for good, that would be fantastic.
4. The other thing I'm looking for suggestions for are maybe some alternative or supplemental things I can try, like acupuncture or massage or something if anyone has any experience with those, if they were at all helpful, expensive or not, how they worked, where the people worked from, etc. Nova has lost some musculature, and gained a bit of fat since this occurred, not a whole lot, and I'm hoping that now that we have her moving a bit more in rehab exercises and now have implemented a no free food policy, basically all her food is given to her as "treats" for her little exercise things due to the massive amount that she gets through working all her rehab exercises, that trend will switch but if anyone had any suggestions or advice on dogs recovering from surgery to help keep weight in check and build up muscle please feel free, or really anything along the lines of something that I might not be aware of. It may just be a matter of time and keeping doing what I'm doing but I also want to be certain that there is not something that I am missing that I could or should be doing. At the very least at the end of all of this I want to know that I did all that I could.
5. Dry shampoo. In her current state and being that she has been in a hospital, bathing her or taking her to the groomers is not an option truly. However, since she couldn't go on her own and even now needs assistance, she often gets splattered and in the beginning peed herself once and pooped in her bed once before the techs watching her learned that she only cried to them when she had to go out. And it is still a risk. Plus just being around and put down on the floor and elsewhere she got rather...grungy quickly. The other hospital had a dry shampoo but I bought one, a Paul Mitchell one that made her coat look quite nice but I am hesitant to use it liberally, and just using water when she poops herself does not seem wise. Plus she is in a hospital, yes in a section far away fm the emergency rooms section, but all the diseases and such going through there, I know even in human hospitals with the best of attention and care to it it can be a problem. So, dry shampoo , does anyone know how it works, if its safe to use semi regularly (mind Nova was not bathed on a very regular basis before this, just brushed and such and I'm not talking full on use when I say regularly but mostly spot usage as I explained), if it even works for this kind of thing, suggestions for brands or anything in particular to dobermans on this matter, as in my searches for it thus far I'm finding mostly ad kind of deals and I'm not trusting them.
I am so sorry for the novel, but I did need to let the story out in a more formalized matter, and I am truly appreciative for any suggestions given or for something I can direct research on. This has happened so quickly and I've had to make decisions before being able to research as much as I have liked and my time availability for it is not as high as I would like at current, so thought I would take a shot in the dark. I know that many people have been critical of my decisions to do this for my dog, to spend the amount of money and effort that I have, to be as emotionally crushed as I am, and I understand if some of you feel the same way, but please be kind in your remarks because I do have all kinds of guilt and heartbreak and worry over this. Nova truly is worth it in my opinion, she has been the best of companions to me, everyone who has ever encountered her, from vets, to friends, to dog sitters, groomers, people who do not like dogs or are afraid of them, has thought she was so sweet, well behaved, and loved her. I have literally had not one bad word about her. One of my best friends had a life long fear of dogs until she got drunk one night at my house and sat in on the floor in the hall with her arm around Nova having a chat with her for over two hours about her fear of dogs, and after that has not been afraid since, even to the point of maybe one day owning a (small) dog herself. I have countless other stories but this is already more than long enough.
So, even if you just skimmed this and do not reply, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart, very sincerely, for your time in reading this, and for anything you might have to contribute or suggest to me. Thank you. Sent from Petguide.com Free App