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Tiny's Surgery

Tiny was born just over 11 years ago and gee that time has flown by. Tiny was born a dwarf and at 3 weeks of age she was the size of a matchbox. In the beginning we did not hold on to alot of hope that Tiny would pull through but as the days turned into weeks it was very apparent that she was a little fighter. At 4 months of age Tiny was the size of a 6 week old puppy and had  the skin and hair of a typical dwarf puppy. After some research we had learnt that dwarf puppies generally don't live past 2.5 years. There is a drug called Thyroxine that was generally given to dwarf puppies many years ago to help their development  so we thought we would try it on Tiny. Well by the time Tiny was 18 months she was 30 kgs and her coat was beautiful.

 

Dinner time is quite an exciting time in our house. My dogs run around like crazy and on the night of the 19th May 2016 was no different. Tiny had got up to have her dinner and she slipped & collapsed. After speaking to my vet that night she suggested to take her to SASH the next morning as she may have had a stroke and will need an MRI to see what has happened. The next morning we were off to Sash. After speaking to one of the Registrars he gave Tiny a check over and went and done the MRI. It was a very very  long wait but finally we had an answer to Tiny's paralysis. After an MRI was performed it had shown Tiny had disc material compressing on her spinal cord. We were told 1mm either side and she would not have been paralysed. Tiny needed surgery to have this removed. We were given no other options and were told the sooner she had the surgery the better chance of her recovering. We were also told they done about 30 of these surgeries a week so we felt confident with her having this procedure. I was  originally told that she would be up in 2-3 days and there was a 95% success rate and the cost will be approx. $8000. We left Tiny there over the weekend and we picked Tiny up on Monday 23rd May 2016 and it was very apparent Tiny was not able to stand at all, she was very frightened and her discharge letter now said it could take up to a month even as long as 6 months for her to walk again. We are sharing this story to help anyone else that may need to totally understand what is involved in rehabilitation of a paralysed dog. If you are in this situation please feel welcome to contact us if you need support. This is our diary we have kept to show her progress.

 

Day 1: At home with Tiny. We arrived home around 5pm after picking her up from Sash. Had a meeting at Sash with the rehab nurse Fran  who was very helpful. At this stage Tiny cannot walk or even support herself. We have a fitted two handle harness for her which helps us in getting her up. She has been operated from the neck side so we must make sure she doesn’t sway her head around. The vertabrae was pushing up from the neck side into her spine. She has quiet a long scar down her neck.
I kept massaging her legs every hour until bedtime. Not drinking so syringing water into her a little at a time. She has two osteo beds, cushions supporting her back and neck, lays on a vet bed and puppy toilet training pads with towels underneath her. Tried to get take her outside but being a dead weight was very difficult. We couldn’t lift her back inside so we lifted her onto a sling bed and carried her back in. Night time Tiny was a bit anxious but we got up every 2 hours and massaged  her legs and as she was only about 8 feet from our bed and as soon as she had a  whimper  one of us got up to her and straightened her cushions and massaged her legs.
Day 2: Kept her comfortable until our staff arrived. A beautiful sunny morning. We all lifted Tiny outside in the sun and placed her body on a yoga ball and rolled it back and forth trying to get her to use her legs. She is trying to use her back legs. Done this for about 15 mins. She is exhausted so placed back on her osteo bed in the lounge room and is now snoring.
Day 3: No difference from yesterday. She is still in a lot of pain.

TINY'S SECOND DAY HOME:

Day 6: Tiny had a session of accupuncture. This has given her relief and she has had a good relaxing night however the next morning she was back to being quite unsettled. I will give the accupuncture a couple more weeks but feel  I need to look for a long term solution.
Day 8: Bianca has helped with 3 x 45 min sessions on the yoga ball and massaging. Tiny is quite exhausted today.

Day 11: Tiny is still very tired from yesterday so only 1 session on the yoga ball today but lots of massaging. She actually goes to sleep when being massaged.
Day 12: Back to Sash for her check up. Dr Dan thought she may have been a little more advanced but is still very optimistic she will walk again. He has given Tiny extra medication to help any damage that may be to her nerve endings. She is on quite strong pain killers as well. Fran from rehab also checked Tiny and is still very positive she will make a full recovery but it will be a long slow road ahead of us.
Day 13: Tiny has had her first day at K9 swim (Londonderry)for some hydrotherapy. Sharon & her team are wonderful. They really put a lot of effort in to Tiny.  She went very well considering she has never been in a pool before but not a lot of movement. When she came out of the pool we dried her down and I had bought her a robe which draws the moisture away from her until we got home and blow dried her. All of our staff have been wonderful in all their support in helping Tiny.  She has had  three sessions of physio this this afternoon. Her paw pads are starting to dry out so I have massaged heel balm into her pads. About every hour I massage her legs, neck and back. She urinates small amounts but very frequent amount so I am using puppy training pads underneath her with a towel under her back end to keep the moisture from sitting around her.  We wash about 3 loads a day just from bedding. Off to Animal Physio tomorrow.

Day 14: Physio sounded promising but will take quite some time. Aunty Helen as she is known to all the dogs has given us more exercises to do each day. She also suggested we use an electric toothbrush to stimulate her nerves. We were also told that she needs alot of massaging.
Day 15: A little flat today but still taking very small steps forward.
Day 16: Tiny is very lethargic today. She barely wanted to lift her head before 12. Whilst she was on her yoga ball I noticed blood dripping out her private part. About an hour later she had filled her puppy pad with urine and quite a bit of blood. All that night quite a large amount of blood had came away. Spoke to my vet, done an xray  and she assured me not to worry and antibiotics will fix the problem, which they did.
Day 18: Had to cancel the hydrotherapy this week but her bleeding has reduced quite a lot. She is so much brighter. Sam is one of the German Shepherd World team and along with everyone else has been invaluable to Tiny's recovery. Sam has been with her to her Specialist appt & rehab appts has the annoying nature that keeps Tiny alert and wanting to try.

Day21: Tiny is still in a lot of pain and gets frustrated and tries to bite us at times. I can only imagine how she must be feeling.

Day 28: Every day Tiny tries just that little bit harder. She does a lot of complaining, very vocal. The photo below shows her exhausted and not happy.

 

Week 5: Off to Aunty Helen's again for some more physio tips. This time she has suggested using a vibrating machine to help stop the muscles deteriorating. Unfortunately Tiny has had a huge accident and our visit had to be cut short.

Tiny is off to our vet in the morning for another check up. After visiting our vet and having another check up everything looked good but she has now developed a bowel infection. Apparently these sorts of infections are common in animals that can't move around. More anti biotics.

Week 6: Tiny is doing well at swimming. She needs quite a bit of help still to warm up but never stops trying. She still seems to have quite a bit of pain. The photo below is Tiny on her vibrating machine. This helps stimualte her muscles.

 

Week 7: Tiny is moving her back legs a lot better in the water now. She still needs quite a bit of help to warm up. Tiny still gets very upset and is trying to bite us everytime  we try to place the harness on her or move her. She is still in a lot of pain. After having a good chat with our vet she has suggested taking her off all of her medication except for her Metacam.

Week 8: Tiny still cannot stand nor hold her own weight. It has been 8 very long weeks not only for Tiny but for everyone involved in her rehab. Tiny is so much better being of all her drugs. She is much more alert and eager to try new things.

Week 9: Tiny is doing much better at hydrotherapy. She is using all four legs for short periods. Tiny loves it. Out of the water she still can't hold her weight.

We use a yoga ball 3 times a day to help her get more use in her back legs. We encourage her with treats to push off her back legs. Tiny is still having accupuncture once a week and now has a massage therapist also once a week, hydrotherapy twice a week and physio at least 3 times a day.

Week 10: It is becoming very apparent that we need some extra help. Tiny is 35kgs of dead weight and is very heavy to lift. We do have a stretcher bed but we all have sore backs from having to lift her up and down and hold her up so much. It is very hard to hold her up to wash her down when she has her accidents. I am looking into a quad cart that hopefully will help her and us. We have 3 different types of harness's now to try and make Tiny more comfortable when lifting her.

Tiny in the picture below shows how well she is sitting up on her own now. We do however place pillows around her to make her comfortable.

Week 12:

The photo above shows Tiny with her new jacket. She is doing very well with her swimming. Tiny is also sitting up quite well on her own now. She tries to sit up further on her bottom all on her own. She barks to let us know what her needs are now. If she pees or poops herself she gives a very loud bark, if she wants a drink she does a very constant bark and even if she just wants a cuddle she barks. She has become very vocal. Below is a photo of Tiny in her new cart on her first day. She is not impressed.

Week 14: Tiny has improved so much with her swimming and she really enjoys it. As soon as we turn in the driveway she barks with excitement. Everyone knows when Tiny turns up!

Week 15: Still having swimming twice a week and she now sees a chiropractor twice a week as well. Tiny is full of beans and is always trying. She has an amazing will to live and to make the best out of every day and she has done this from the day she was born and never ceases to amaze me. She tries to get up and will drag herself up and turn around in a circle. Our place is a very busy place & Tiny just has to be a part of everything that goes on. She still has  her physio three times a day which consists of Rapigel rubbed into her shoulders, electric toothbrush rubbed on her paw pads and up her leg, massage comfy oil into her legs and heel balm massaged into her paw pads to protect them. We also place a heat pack on her shoulders, We are constantly rolling her over to prevent any pressure sores. Sometimes I wonder if she enjoys the attention too much and is not in any hurry to walk on her own. The photo below is of Tiny getting herself on to the ramp. She is very proud of herself.

Week 16: Tiny is starting to hold her weight a little bit but we have to support her with the double harness. The toileting is the hardest as she gives a warning sign of her tail to the side but if your not there at that moment it goes everywhere. We have toilet pads underneath her but being a 35kg Shepherd she does mountains of everything. Bathing her and rolling is not an easy task. We are trying to get her to go on the grass once she is in her cart but that doesn't always work out.

Week 17: Unfortunately had another bout of diarrhea the last few days. It must be the popcorn chicken she gets as her treat after she has her swimming. Whilst we wait for her chiropractor appointment we sit Tiny on a picnic rug in the park under a tree and Tiny just loves it. She barks at the ducks in the pond and certainly lets everyone know that she is there. She went very well at swimming today. She is really extending her front legs out well. Sharon and her staff at K9 swim are just fantastic. They are so supportive of Tiny and very patient. Chiropractor Anne is very happy with Tiny also. She is getting more balance but is still unable to hold herself on her own.

Week 18: Tiny is starting to hold herself up for a few seconds at a time. Tiny no longer  needs too much help in the pool now. Mel (Tiny's personal assistant) hops in the pool with her to guide her around but she is doing most of the work on her own moving all four legs and kicking out brilliantly.  

 

 

 

Week 20: Tiny is now starting to walk around without her cart. We balance the back end with her harness and she takes off with the front legs. When Tiny is in her cart she can't bend down to smell the grass and that is something Tiny loves to do. She has a lot more freedom now but she can only do short spurts at a time and then she has a little rest and off we go again. There has been many times I have thought that the best result we were ever going to see was Tiny in her cart but thanks to a terrific chiropractor that has encouraged us to balance Tiny & help Tiny  to walk without her cart and we can now see that light is at the end of the tunnel again.

Week 24: Tiny is slowly getting mobile with just her double harness. Once we get her on her feet and she starts to walk we can let go of her for a few moments and she is taking a few steps on her own. She still is having her hydrotherapy twice a week, Chiropractor once a week and physio 3-4 times a day.