Tuesday, September 1, 2009

4-Day shows, work inconvenience, and a very bad pet week at Smalltyme

Whew. Vacation. If this is vacation, I wish I were back at work.

Last Wednesday I went to the Cumberland Fairgrounds (an hour and a half drive one way) to help get set-up for the four-day show cluster held by Central Maine and Midcoast Kennel Clubs. We normally hold our shows in Union, which is just 10 minutes away, but the AKC calendar gave us a conflict this year with the fair, so we had to make alternate arrangements.

On Thursday, the first day of the cluster, I got up at 5:00 a.m. to shower and head back down to Cumberland. But, when we got up, Ian wouldn't pick his head up, and acted as though his neck was really hurting. I knew I was scheduled to steward all day, but I put a panic call in to Central Maine's obedience chair and said I needed to take Ian to vet, and I'd be there when and if I could.

Ian had an x-ray and all looked well, despite him obviously being in pain, so the vet put him on crate rest and an NSAID. I got him settled and reached the showgrounds at around 1:00 p.m., happy that it only appeared to be a soft-tissue injury that would heal up over time.

Friday dawned, and I was once again up at 5:00 and headed toward Cumberland. This time I was only there until 1:00, because I had to get back home and go to work from 3:00 to 11:00 at my part time job, since I only had vacation from the full-time one. When I stopped home between the show and going to work, I could see that Ian was having trouble walking and keeping his rear end under him.

Having Cardis, I've read plenty about IVDD, and was pretty sure that's what was going on. I called my vet on the way to work and asked for a referral to a neurologist, called the neurologist from work, and got an appointment for this week, and an emergency number to call in case his symptoms worsened before then.

Needless to say, my mind was not on work. How I managed to get through the 8-hour shift without bursting into tears I'll never know. I got home and got to bed by midnight after a good crying jag, and then yes, up at 5:00 to go to Cumberland once more. Ian was about the same, no worse and not really much better. Saturday and Sunday it was my turn to be Obedience Chair. My friend Ashley went with me to steward, but we were only able to stay until 1:00 because, yup, I had to work Saturday night. Thank god for my friend Donna Cassista, who not only chaired obedience and Rally for Central Maine but took over for me as well on Saturday and Sunday. I know I couldn't have done it without her.

Sunday morning was more of the same. Ashley had gotten ill and was not able to go with me to steward, so that duty once again fell on poor Donna. I owe her a really big present. I cried most of the way down to Cumberland but managed to pull it together once I got there. There was a Cardigan in the Open A Obedience class who was our only qualifier. It was both delightful and heartbreaking to watch her work, knowing that Ian and I would have been competing in our first Open trial in three weeks. Now, I was just hoping he'd be able to walk again.

I left again on Sunday at 1:00 to go to my third weekend shift at work, sobbing during the ride home, feeling badly for not being there for clean-up and take down after the events along with the rest of the crew.

Yesterday, things started looking up. I got more than 4-5 hours of sleep, for one thing. And when I did get up and take Ian out, he was walking much better, only wobbling a little bit if he got too excited. And this morning, he's walking better still. He's clearly feeling like himself -- bright-eyed, wagging his tail, and really, really wanting out of his crate, which isn't going to happen. Sorry, buddy. We'll go to the neurologist Thursday morning where I expect they'll do a CT scan or a myelogram, and we'll go from there. Given what I've already seen for improvement, though, I'm hopeful that this can be managed with crate rest and a course of steroids, rather than surgery, and I'll be talking with folks who have been through IVDD about a supplement and exercise regimen to prevent this from happening again.

While I'm very happy things are looking better with Ian, this is still a sad day, because our 11 year-old Siamese cat has left us. About nine months ago, he had to go to the vet for a manual extraction after becoming very constipated. Despite a change in diet and a laxative medication, it occurred again and he went to the vet yesterday. This time, the vet found two masses in his abdomen that are the likely cause of the issue to begin with. After talking with the vet about various outcomes, my husband and I made the decision to let him go.

Boy, do I dread the inevitable question when I return to my full-time job next week: "Hey, how was your vacation?"


  1. I am so sorry for everything you are going through. Our prayers are with you all - for the loss of your kitty and that Ian makes a full recovery.

  2. Oh Dawn, what a week. You and Ian are in my thoughts. I am hoping for a positive outcome with Ian's neurologist appointment.

    I am sorry for the loss of your kitty, as well.

  3. It seems that everything fell on you at one time. It sounds like Ian's condition will just need managing -- hopefully no major surgery. I'm sorry you had to say goodbye to your kitty. . . . and the Club -- you'll make up for whatever duties you weren't able to fulfill. It happens to everyone at some point. The animals are more important.

  4. I'm holding good thoughts in my head for Ian. Often crate rest and an anti-inflammatory will do the trick.

  5. First, I am SO sorry that you're going through this.

    If you can get a diagnosis without doing a myelogram (with good x-rays), I'd go that direction first. Myelograms are not only unbelievably expensive, they're an ordeal for an already hurting dog. A good vet can see calcified discs or narrowing between the vertebrae without doing a myelogram, and can escalate to the more invasive test if the x-rays don't give you good answers.

    If they start talking about spondylosis (rather than IVDD), you should research gold bead implants. In the breeds where spondylosis is common, they're often miraculous and let you avoid a very involved and often unsuccessful surgery.

    Please update us as soon as you know; we'll be thinking about you.