Sometimes tiny tripawds run into unplanned obstacles that are not because they have 3 legs. Last Saturday after a hard day of playing Rocket collapsed. We grabbed his little limp body and honestly thought he was gone. After several minutes of attempting to rouse him, he began to respond but it involved violently jerky movements where he would throw his head to the right side. His eyes were open, but not focused.
Here is the difficult part – the closest vet to us on a Saturday is an hour away. It was the longest drive of our lives. The ER Vet immediately took him in an did X-Rays and offered several possibilities of what could have caused this, but knew he needed more specialized treatment. We were sent to a second ER vet that offered 24-hour care until he could get to the specialists on Monday morning. Now we were looking at the longest 24 hours plus of our lives. Updates Sunday had some positivity – he was eating and drinking and was more focused but still could not sit up on his own or stand.
The specialist got us in very early on Monday morning and took Rocket for an MRI. What came back was very scary. He has been diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation which is an area in the brain/spinal cord area that normally closes during development but, unfortunately, his did not and it created a brain herniation (which makes him unable to have the surgical intervention) along with hydrocephalus putting pressure on the brain and spinal fluid putting pressure on his spine. It does not normally happen in this breed and he had never had any of the symptoms so they said he is an anomaly. At this time, he was recognizing us, but was still exhibiting the neurological symptoms we saw previously. The vet first told us the diagnosis was very grim and we did not want this full of life baby to suffer. After much discussion, we felt we needed to let him go and contacted that vet to let them know we would be coming over to be there with him. Just as we were walking out the door (about a half hour later), the vet called and asked for 24 more hours as they had finally been able to consult with 3 neurologists and wanted to begin a drug protocol which involved prednisone for inflammation and omeprazole which, strangely enough, decreases the hydrocephalus. Ulcer drugs are good for a log of things!
Tuesday morning they called and he was sitting up and eating but still would not stand. At this time, they said we could come get him and take him home to see how he would do. We were a bit scared, but Wednesday morning we headed out and when we got there were told he has been “alligator crawling” but still not attempting to stand. He was so happy to see us and was glad to get into “his” truck. When we got home, I set him down on the barest part of ground we could find in our snowy yard and he immediately stood and up and went and did his business. It was pretty shaky and only having one leg in the front made it much harder that a four-legger, but this baby is tough and determined. He lives his life at 100 MPH and never quits.
Each additional day the improvement has been amazing. He still has a head shake (a little like a bobble-head doll) but he is much more stable when standing and moving. He needs to stay calm and on flat surfaces for at least a month and we will always have to be aware of the chances it could occur again. The hardest part for him will not being able to rough house with the other dogs or run up and down the hill in the big yard. We are just feeling blessed for whatever time we may have with him and the miracle of this recovery. Keep Rocket in your thoughts and prayers.
Christmas miracles do happen!