Three Kids and a Dog

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Adler's Rough Week

On Tuesday, I came home per usual, unlocked the front door and prepared to take Adler out quickly to the side of our building so she could pee. She was unleashed as she is well-trained to do her business and quickly come back inside.  All seemed normal as she greeted me at the door, I put down my bags and off we went.  But no sooner did she get to the side of the building then she started acting strangely, running tight circles around a tree and then collapsing to the ground on her side. I ran to her and noticed that she appeared to be trying to get up but couldn't. She was immobilized and twitching and foaming at the mouth. I knew enough that she was having some sort of seizure and aside from praying it would end quickly, I gave her space.  It probably lasted only 30 seconds but what happened after was way more traumatic for both her and I than the actual seizure.

After a seizure, dogs go into this almost catatonic state where they say they act almost blind.  As soon as she was done seizing, she got up off the ground and ran from me.  Again, she was unleashed and we live at a very busy intersection with four lanes going in each direction. Luckily, she ran toward the back of our building where there was a fence and I was able to coral her. She was so terrified, my 73-pound dog tried to scale the fence to get away from me.  She was barking incessantly at me and baring her teeth so there was no chance I could have grabbed her collar without getting bit pretty badly. I gave her a little space. She ran again and I ran after her into another little fenced enclosure...Thank God.

It was pouring rain. All I had on me was a light work raincoat and my keys. No phone to call for help and no umbrella. We both were getting soaked but I was determined to wait it out with her until she came out of this state.  I kept talking to her while she barked at me. The Adler that I saw at that moment was not my dog. It was a rabid dog that was lost, afraid and protecting herself. I continued to talk soothingly to her and tell her it was okay, that I was here and that I was not going to leave her.  I love this dog so much that the simple thought that she could have run into the street and gotten killed, terrified me. Still something, maybe it was that love, forced me to remain calm and knew that she would return to me.  And she did after about 20 minutes.  Both of us soaked to the bone, she finally cowered toward me. I gathered her in my arms to give her a big hug then grabbed her collar and walked her back to our house.  She was shaking when I got her inside.  I immediately called her vet who I knew was open late on Tuesday. (Tom stepped in to pick up the kids from school so luckily they didn't have to witness the whole episode.)

At the vet, they ran blood tests and referred me to a neurologist.  First sign she wasn't okay was that she wasn't trying to escape from the vet's office.  Definitely not herself.  Wednesday morning, I took her to the neurologist.  Who knew dogs had all the same specialty doctors that people do?!  He took full x-rays of her and scheduled her for an MRI on Thursday.  Thursday morning, I took her in so she could undergo the MRI where she would need to go under anesthesia.  I picked her up Thursday afternoon. She seemed great.  A little sore from all the trauma caused by the seizure but she was anxious to get out of there so she seemed more like herself.  Friday she seemed alert and was even begging for food while we ate dinner although she was still sleeping a lot.  Friday she threw up in the middle of the night and continued to throw up again on Saturday morning.  She didn't touch her food on Saturday until well after 5 p.m. and she even refused treats!  She continues to sleep a lot and I'm hoping her body is just recovering from the trauma of the seizure and the anesthesia.

The diagnosis was idiopathic epilepsy which could be genetic but the neurologist said there was no need to put her on medicines for it right now until they occur more frequently (we think she also had another seizure about two to three years ago when Tom was at home).  All the tests including the blood, x-rays and MRI all showed that she was a very healthy dog.  I was worried about those tests. Not only what it would show related to the seizure but what else would turn up.  Bernese Mountain Dogs are very prone to health issues.  The fact that nothing came up was a great reassurance that despite being age 8 and in the middle of the life expectancy of 7-9 years for the breed, I still had some good years left with her. I'm glad for that.  I will make every one of those years count.

One out of three places where they had to shave her for the MRI (her leg looks so skinny!).

She was a good patient and all the ladies at the front desk at the neurologist knew who she was. (It's Saturday and she looks good in red so she is still wearing her bandana.)

A little video of the patient on Friday.


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