I think I can make it up to you though, I have a couple bombshells...
Now, to my mom and Kyle's mom and all other loved ones, please refer to the title of this post periodically... just do it.
I came home from work a few days ago to the disturbing absence of Bailey's pitter patter across the floor upstairs. Usually as soon as I walk in the back door (basement level) I can hear her running around above my head (living room level).
I didn't hear her. I went upstairs. She was not there. I had an inkling, though that lately, she had been trying her hand at climbing the stairs to the third floor level (bedrooms). For four and a half years, she didn't do this, because the stairs aren't carpeted, and her little nails can't get any traction. But she's also uppity and easily alarmed, so any noise from outside and she might have thought it safer upstairs. Indeed, she had started climbing the stairs while Kyle and I were at work. I was not at all happy about this because along with not getting any traction, wood stairs also hurt more when you fall down them. Bailey is a tough little doggie, she has taken her spills throughout the years and she shakes it off and carries on as if nothing happened (and nobody saw it!) but 13 steps was more than I was comfortable with.
Kyle and I had just been contemplating getting a baby gate for the stairs when I came home two days ago to the same absence of Bailey's pitter patter. I went upstairs thinking I would find her on the 3rd floor landing but she was still in the living room, just not excited that I was home.
This was odd, because Mommy and Daddy are always gone forever and when they come home she missed them soooooo much! I asked if she needed to go outside and she very slowly and unenthusiastically went to the front door to be let out. She was walking gingerly but not limping or favoring any legs more than others, so I assumed that maybe she had just slept all day and been really lazy.
I sat on the couch as I usually do and as she walked up to me, I picked her up as I usually do on either side of her ribcage, like you would a baby under the armpits. Well she started screaming like I had just stuck red hot pokers under her nails. I was so scared and startled that I just held her for the rest of the evening. When Kyle got home from work, I told him what had happened but she didn't do it again for the rest of the night, and she still would lightly jump up and off our [very low to the ground] loveseat.
I came home from work the next day (yesterday) hoping she had just been sore for some unknown reason and was fine now, but when I walked into the house I again heard nothing. I can whole-heartedly sympathize with a fellow bride-to-be I just read about who had a dog with her fiance... If you are sensitive over dog issues, you don't need to read the story, suffice it to say, she and her fiance had to put their pug down, and my heart goes out to them. Her story started with her dog not running excitedly to the door when she got home from work, so I was a little freaked out yesterday.
Well, I walked upstairs prepared for the worst, but Bailey was OK, but still moving very slowly and gingerly. This day, she also appeared to be favoring certain legs at odd times. Mostly she just didn't seem to want to use her front legs and so she just sat at my feet and leaned back against me in order to take the weight off her whole front. I was pretty freaked out, but still had no idea what was wrong or how to fix it. I gently put her up on the couch with me and she tried to move onto my lap. I tried to help her but she started screaming non-stop for about a minute while I desperately tried to figure out how I was hurting her and trying to correct it. She also stuck one front paw out at a very odd angle... which really freaked me out, it looked like it was locking up on her.
Eventually I found that when she was on her back she would stop crying. But I had had enough. The was obviously something wrong with her back. I don't know how many of you out there have dogs or have had to listen to them cry and scream for any prolonged period of time, but please believe me when I say it is heartbreaking. She did it two more times while I tried to get her downstairs to get all our stuff together for the vet, and by this point she was really walking oddly (bunny hoping with her back legs and switching between front legs). Thankfully, luckily, wonderfully, our vet is a block up the street. I didn't have a car and I needed to get her somewhere immediately, so I messaged Kyle, he left work early, and we walked up there. Kyle held Bailey in his lap for about a half hour while we waited for an opening.
Can I just quickly plug my vet's office?? They are wonderful. Even the receptionists are helpful, they immediately told me it looked like she had a back injury (I mean, that part wasn't fun to hear, but you know what I mean), they always leave time in their schedules for walk-ins, and they take you seriously. I was most thankful about that always leave time in their schedules for walk-ins thing. We went back and our vet, Dr. Chapman, gave Bailey a nice physical therapy session where he tested all her vertebrae and limbs. She didn't start crying again until he tried to move her neck, so he called for an X-ray. I am so mad at myself for leaving the CD with the X-rays at home (yeah, they actually gave me a CD with her X-rays... although maybe they're required to, I dunno', but it was sweet) but as soon as I remember them and upload the pictures, I'll post an addendum so you can see Bailey's pretty spine :D I say that because if you've gotten this far, you've endured a very long and wordy post, so you deserve to see some pretty picture for it!
So, has everyone been paying attention to the title? Her actual spine is fine. But X-rays cannot see the spinal cord or the discs, but that's OK! A real problem would have been if the actual spine (bones) were messed up, which might have indicated some kind of break or a slipped disc. As it is, everything was in perfect alignment and looked normal, so Dr. Chapman ascertained that it must be some swelling or a pinched nerve; very uncomfortable but not major or crippling. He gave her a shot of prednisone and gave us prednisone pills for the next two weeks.
Can I just say! A few hours after that shot, she was almost back to normal, she's still a bit wobbly and unsure and doesn't like jumping on the couches (and thankfully, she's stopped going up the stairs... but we're still getting that baby gate) but she's acting like her old self, eating and drinking fine, walking on all four legs normally, and looking a lot happier (she was starting to look old lady-ish, squinting and ears down... if she was an old lady, that would be acceptable, but she's only five).
This brings me to my last point: Bailey's five tomorrow!! I made her pupcakes for two years and while she loves them, they're really hard for her to eat; she's got a tiny little mouth and throat. But I'll think of something special, I don't think anyone deserves to be in pain on their birthday, and now she's on steroids! Anyway, sorry for such a long story, but Bailey's not had it easy her whole life, not one year has gone by without some worry or other:
- Year one, dropped on her head by some neighborhood kid, I felt like bad Mommy for not forcing the girl to sit on a chair before handling her, but I was more mad at the little girl who was not that little and should have known better and held on tighter... No other neighborhood kids are allowed to hold Bailey anymore
- Year two, first bout with adult tummy troubles, her (and my) first foray into people food: boiled chicken, rice, and canned pumpkin... Yuuum... actually, I'm pretty sure she loved it, and my house went back to being clean
- Also year two, chokes for the first time on I-don't-even-remember-what and has trouble breathing for a few hours, leading us to believe that something was still lodged in her throat, but it turned out she was just scared and wouldn't allow herself to breath freely until she had calmed down
- Year three, jumps out of Daddy's hands and breaks a nail... but not completely off, Daddy has to yank it the rest of the way off with pliers... definitely ranks top 2 on our list of worst parenting moments ever (by worst I mean us feeling the worst, the fall was a complete accident, and you can't be mad at yourself for accidents)
- Also year three, good-for-nothing roommate loses Bailey for a full 24 hours. I was in Australia and didn't have a clue while Daddy and GFN roommate stayed out almost all night looking for her. A couple kids had found her in the playground across the four-lane street from our house and had taken her home for the night, and called the number on the posters the next day. Broken nail comes in handy as a tell-tale sign that kids are not just trying to make an easy $200 (which Kyle made GFN roommate pay, thankyouverymuch)
- Year four, gets what Mommy insists is bloat (and promptly freaks out over it, because "it is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer"... don't read this if you're sensitive either). But after a few gut-wrenching hours and a Pepto Bismal, she's OK again
- Approaching year five, Bailey somehow pinches a nerve in her neck and almost makes Mommy cry, several times, for feeling that nothing she could do was helping but everything was hurting!! Mommy and Daddy both felt even worse that we didn't get a baby gate as soon as she started going up the stairs, and while this doesn't excuse us, the vet said most likely this just happened by some random tweak, not from falling down steps.
Good luck with year five Bailey! Thanks everyone for reading if you've gotten this far. It feels so good to get it all out, it was a very rough few days, and above all else, no matter how much she can annoy me some days, I absolutely cannot stand it when she's in pain. I'm not a coddler, but when your dog is screaming and crying, and doesn't have the wherewithal to be faking it, you know something's wrong, and you hate that you can't make it better. I can't express how relieved I was last night when she finally relaxed and started acting like herself again. I can't express how important she is to both of us.
Thanks again for listening, and thanks again to our awesome vet. I'll save my other bombshell for tomorrow ;)