Cagey

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My poor little scruff-a-munch hurt herself, somehow. We still have no idea how she did it exactly. Three weekends ago, I woke up from a nap and discovered that she was walking all hunched over and whimpering when picked up. Two nights in a row at the emergency vet and it was clear that she needed to go to hospital. The few days that she was away from home were horrible; we were all depressed, but nobody more than Rupert. We couldn’t even visit her because it would have stressed her out even more. We stayed home with the saddest boy in the world and researched dog wheelchairs, morbidly trying to figure out what modifications the house would need to accommodate a potentially paralyzed dog. After methadone, an x-ray and an MRI, we discovered she has a ruptured disc as well as some swelling on another disc – this is causing a lot of pain, but also some neurological deficits in her back legs. Now, she is on six weeks of prescribed cage rest with an eighty-five percent chance of all being well, but still a risk that she might need spinal surgery. And from what I have read, this can be a recurring thing in predisposed dogs.

So far, it has been interesting. Nathan will tell you that he is the most sleep-deprived person who ever lived, but I think that one-and-a-half weeks of getting up twice a night is not too bad in the grand scheme of things. We had a setback about a week ago where she couldn’t stop vomiting, which had us in emergency twice more and having to add even more tablets into her impressive medication schedule. Now, it’s more about boredom. The crate sits in the living room and we move it next to the bed at night. Sometimes she huffs and puffs and throws almighty tantrums, throwing her weight against the side of the crate to try and knock it over. She growls and points with her nose to let us know when she wants something. Her fur is becoming more and more matted, and all I can do is trim it away in chunks, which looks just as lovely as you could imagine. The strangest thing of all is that this dog – our normally independent, solitary, anti-affection girl – suddenly wants to be held and patted all the time. She will lay in her crate sighing and crying softly until somebody picks her up or cuddles her.

Nathan is worried that her personality will be altered forever. I don’t think she will be exactly the same when we ‘get her back’ – it will take time. There will be new ramps and stairs in the house for her to get used to, and physiotherapy and underwater treadmill sessions to attend. She won’t be able to throw herself around like she used to, defying the laws of physics or trying to change direction mid-jump. Up until this little misadventure, I had been hassling Nathan to add a third dog into the mix. I don’t think we will now, and I feel like we dodged a bullet in realizing this now rather than later. I don’t want to be an animal collector, who accumulates animals out of some compulsion rather than an examined decision to have them as a treasured part of our family. I want to give the best of us to the two that we already have. When Rupert got sick, everything changed in an instant, and it has with Posie as well – I could not give everybody what they needed and deserved if we had three dogs and all of them had crises at the same time. And as they get older, the chance of something going wrong gets bigger every year. So the foreseeable future includes staying a two-dog-family, and hopefully they will both be back to sprinting on the beach very soon.

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