Saturday, July 16, 2011

Andy's Back Problem Resurfaces

On the day Andy and I moved in, big problems quickly developed. After I had dropped off Andy at my mom’s, I went back to my condo to get more things. When I returned, my mom told me Andy kept falling down. Perplexed, I asked her what she meant. Andy had been fine earlier that day. I saw Andy out front. He would take a few steps, list to one side, stagger and fall. He would get up and try again only to fall again. His paralysis had returned. It wasn’t a full paralysis but it was bad.

We had to get him to the vet as soon as possible. In the meantime, I had to get a walking-assistance device for him because he could barely walk on his own. My mom called a few pet stores in the Raleigh area trying to see which stores had dog walking devices. I went to one place, (not a big-box store) in Cary to pick a walking assistance device. It had a pad to go under the belly with strings for the owner to help lift the dog up. I didn’t like this device. It did help assist walking effectively but Andy had a hard time urinating. He would pee all over the pad. I could have taken the pad off while he peed, but Andy needed the support the most when he was using the bathroom.

The second device, The Bottom’s Up Leash, worked far better. It had two loops and a leash assembled in one unit. The back legs went through the loops and the leash was used to support him. Andy could easily use the bathroom, both poo-poo and pee-pee. There was a bit of a learning curve trying to put that thing on him. It would fall off if not put on well.

I worried at first how Andy would react to this strange thing being put on him. He had neurotic tendencies and could be skittish. If Andy would not let me take care of him and not let me use a walking-assistance device, I would have to make a hard choice—put him to sleep.

Andy was lying on the bed when I first attempted to put on the Bottom’s Up leash. The moment of truth had come. He didn’t squirm or fidget. He liked me touching him and loved the attention he was getting. He was so sweet. I would go to great lengths to make him better.

Andy’s front legs worked well. When I lifted the leash, he jumped up and got off the bed. The leash worked like a champion. I went out front to let him go to the bathroom. I had to keep his leash taught or else the loops would drop down and I’d have to put the leash back on. I had to use a good amount of strength to support his back half. My right arm screamed with pain after the first few walks. It was like walking around with a 20lb weight in hand with the arm sticking all the way out. I had to grin and bear it because I knew Andy was in trouble and could be close to dying. These were not Hallmark moments but I had to take what I could get in what could have been my last moments with him.

Andy spent almost the whole day in my mom’s bed. He no longer liked being alone. When I worked, I would leave him by himself or 10 or more hours and never had a complaint from him. Now, he cried whenever he was alone for more than 5 minutes. I think he knew something was wrong with him and that he felt vulnerable. He was scared and didn’t want to be by himself. If my mom wasn’t sleeping or napping in there, I would sit in a chair and read a book. My presence placated Andy and made him happy. He would peacefully sleep while I sat and read.

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