Sunday, February 19, 2012

Charlie

This might be a repeat for those that follow me on Facebook, but I wanted to document my little Charlie's surgery.

We adopted Charlie this past fall from a couple that was looking to rid themselves of the financial hardship from owning a dog. A mutual friend introduced us because we already owned 2 miniature dachshund and she thought we might be interested. Sure enough, we fell in love right away. We took him home to meet our other pups and it was true; Charlie was the missing piece to this family that we didn't even know we were without. He jumped right in and blending with our little family just perfectly.

At the beginning of December we noticed Charlie was walking a little differently and it was hard for him to walk up & down our stairs. After a few different vet visits, we finally concluded that he had a possible 'collapsed disk' in his lower back. My vet forewarned me that surgery might be necessary, but since his office doesn't offer operations of that scale, he recommended a nearby hospital for a second opinion and pre-op information. After my visit with the new doctor, Dr. Bagley, and some x-rays, he suggested an MRI would be a better option to see a more 'circular' view around the area and to know for sure whether or not surgery was necessary. Of course in talking about possible surgery, I was told the entire surgery was going to cost quite a few thousand dollars. EEK!! I left that appointment feeling rather confused, sad & frustrated. It was a lot of money to come up with on the spot, but if my poor Charlie's back continued without an operation, he would go completely paralyzed in his hind end. Which we would then need some sort of wheel chair to help him get around and some special care for the rest of his life...including potty issues.

Joe and I took a day to think things over; figuring out if we could get the funds together and make it work. Of course the thought of 'putting him down' did come into our minds. Its a simple solution and cost friendly, but I just didn't feel right about it. He's only 5 years old and has another good decade left in him. Plus his previous 3 owners passed him around because of the financial burden and I just couldn't succumb to that same solution. I couldn't give up. Luckily Joe agreed with me and we decided the MRI was a must. Before I could call to schedule the MRI, I missed a phone call from the hospital and was told a sweet woman (that I met in the waiting area of the hospital just a day earlier) had offered to front the $1600 bill for our Charlie's MRI. I was baffled when I heard the voicemail and immediately called back. Sure enough, a woman named Melissa, offered to help us with the MRI cost.  I couldn't believe this sweet soul was so generous and was willing to help a complete stranger. I was told that she was the woman I had spoken to, while I was waiting to pay my last exam fee. I had to search my brain and remember someone I barely spoke too and never officially met. Apparently after I left the hospital that day, she told the receptionist that she wanted to help and called the next day offering the $1600.

Charlie had the MRI the next day and immediately after his results came in, I got a call from Dr. Bagley and was told Charlie had 2 herniated disks that were pinching on his spinal cord and were about to severe the connection completely (which would end in permanent paralysis). He advised that surgery was needed ASAP and the operating room was currently available, but after that night, wouldn't be for another 2 days. It was a quick decision that Joe and I had to make in a matter of 10 minutes. We already had an angel pay for a good portion of the cost (the MRI was included in the surgery cost I had been warned about earlier that week) and we knew no matter what the bill, Charlie's welfare was worth it.

We were able to pick up Charlie 2 days later and he was on STRICT, limited activity for 2 whole weeks until the staples were taken out. I got to take him to work with me and he just cuddled in his kennel, drugged up on pain meds and slept while I worked in the salon. After his 2 week check up, we were told he was making remarkable progress and as long as we still kept certain activities out (like climbing, running and long walks) he was good to go & live his normal life. It has now been over a month since the surgery and Charlie has made a 100% recovery. Playing with his ball, digging in the backyard, jumping & messing around with our other pups. Even his personality & spirit has come back. You can tell he's very happy!!!

Joe and I did get a little scuff for spending so much money on a dog, but on the other side of it, we were overwhelmed with support & concern. I guess you just have to be a dog person to really understand. He is a part of our family and surgery was needed immediately. Joe and I treat our pups like kids, so you can imagine, just like a parent to a kid, when the priority is their health & welfare there really is NO OTHER option. Putting Charlie first and getting his mobility back was OUR decision and I don't regret it one bit. Even if some personal things for Joe and I are now on hold or pushed back. That's just being a parent - even if its to a dog.

Thank you to everyone for your kind words on Facebook, text messages and verbally. We're lucky to have all the understanding and support. Charlie is doing great and we couldn't be happier.

Here are a few pictures of Charlie:

Before the surgery

This was taken just after picking him up from the hospital. 36 hours post surgery. He cuddled with me all day - because he was in a drug-coma

Its kinda gruesome, but here is his incision.

A closer look. 8 staples!!

And here he is, hanging out with me at work. He pretty much stayed in his kennel & slept the whole time.

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