Many of you saw our initial posts on our Facebook Fan Page, but we wanted to give you a more comprehensive update. First and foremost, Kodiak is resting comfortably beside me as I type out this post.
Amazing how quickly things can change. Friday dawned with clear skies and cooler temperatures, destined to be the best weather day of the week. We put the dogs out on the picket line in front of the RV while we got ourselves ready, and then took The Herd on our morning walk down the beach at Huntington Beach State Park. About half way through our walk, Kodiak screamed and dropped to the ground. He never lost consciousness, but it was very clear that he was unable to stand or use his legs in anyway.
We scanned the ground to see what he stepped on (the dogs can be quite dramatic about getting a sand spur in the paw, but Kodiak is notoriously stoic about pain, so that was not his style). The beach was perfectly clear – no jellyfish, no crabs, nothing but clean, white sand.
Understanding that Kodiak was not going to walk out on his own, we realized that precisely what we liked about Huntington Beach was now our enemy – miles of pristine, undeveloped beach with only a few paths over to any road – and very few people on the beach at all. One of us stayed with Kodiak while the other ran the rest of the dogs back to the RV, secured them safely, and drove the Jeep back to the nearest entry trail. We then carried Kodiak up the beach and to the waiting Jeep (trust us, 60 pounds (27 kilograms) of dog is quite the challenge to carry up a beach and across a marsh path).
Next challenge – where to for a vet? We stopped at the ranger’s station and were directed to Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital. We can not possibly say enough great things about the terrific team there. Kodiak went straight into an exam room and, despite three other emergencies arriving at about the same time, we were seen quickly by a professional, polite staff. Dr. Chip Jackson and team were superb. Every time we went back into the hospital itself, the staff was gently caring for other patients and several technicians made a point to stop by, call Kodiak by name, and tell us how much they were rooting for him.
What always impresses me about a great vet is when they acknowledge what they don’t know. Like our own terrific vet, Dr. Jackson was quick to say what he knew, what he suspected, and, importantly, what he did not know and wanted to consult with someone else. No one knows everything and I always have great faith in people who admit when they need input from others.
Which leads us to where we are tonight – still guessing. We have ruled out a lot of things, but have a couple of possibilities.
1) A stroke. The initial signs all pointed to a stroke, but as the day wore on, we are less inclined to believe this was the issue for a variety of reasons.
2) Fibrocartilagious embolism – Basically a spinal stroke, or the deprivation of blood from a part of the spinal cord. A great article can be found here. Very strong possibility.
3) Lesion on the vertabrae or other vertabrae issue – We think this may be a high likelihood, but need a good scan to rule this in or out. And that means transporting Kodiak to a hospital with the scanning technology.
To continue to narrow down the cause, we are transporting Kodiak back home Saturday to have more extensive scans done. He remains alert and responsive, though he can not stand well on his own (can take several steps before falling) and has no use at all of his front left leg. He does have pain and sensitivity reflexes, including in that front leg. And, importantly, he wolfed down food Friday night when Dr. Jackson cleared him to see if he would eat anything (boy, did he). Mostly, he just wants to see and, preferably, touch me. He has spent much of the evening with his head in my lap.
We will certainly keep you posted as we learn more. In the meantime, we really appreciate everyone’s prayers and concerns for Big Red. Thank you.
We did learn a few things today and wanted to take a moment to mention them. We will probably do a post on each of them later:
1) When you travel, do you know where the nearest emergency vet is located? I am so thankful for a great referral today but want to make sure I am ready no matter where we are traveling.
2) When hiking or out with the dogs, do you know how you will transport them in an emergency? Carrying Kodiak across a beach and over a marsh path was challenging to say the least.
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