Commentary: Alvins trip to the veterinarian

dvm360dvm360 April 2019
Volume 50
Issue 4

A fierce encounter leads to injury and some dog mom remorse.

Alvin before his surgery Photo by Greg Kindred

My husband and I recently moved into a new house-one quite a bit closer to the dvm360 offices and better suited to the changing needs of our family.

The teenage son, when first consulted, was not thrilled about this impending change. But since then he's decided to make the best of the situation and is discovering lots of advantages to his new location in life.

The pets were not consulted, but they have also adapted admirably. Alvin the shepherd mix has a decent-size grassy yard to patrol outdoors, and Lucy Jean, our calico-tabby, has double the square footage in which to bounce around like a feline pinball.

All was going well until Alvin met Zeus, the neighbors' Jack Russell terrier, who we'd heard was a bit of a bully despite his pint-size stature. And apparently the rumors were true. I don't know what Zeus said to Alvin in that moment of first encounter, but I'm guessing he insulted Alvin's mother, because I have never seen such a snarling and snapping of teeth from our sweet old dog as he lunged all 65 pounds of himself directly at Zeus. Thank goodness there was a fence in between.

We thought we'd dodged disaster-until the next morning, when Alvin limped out of bed to his food bowl. A wound next to his toenail seemed to be the culprit, and we decided to keep an eye on him over the weekend. When Monday came, he was even less willing to put weight on his front leg, so off to the vet we went.

The news was not good. What initially looked to the doctor like a dislocated shoulder turned out to be two herniated disks, one in his neck, which was causing the non-weight-bearing on his front leg. We were prescribed thrice-daily pain meds and told to keep him on strict cage rest for two weeks-and that surgery would still be a strong possibility.

The guilt was also not good. If I'd realized the amount of severe pain our stoic dog was in, we would never have dithered around over the weekend while he suffered. I work with veterinarians. I have edited articles about intervertebral disk disease. I should have known better.

After shedding some tears on his behalf, I asked our dear old dog for forgiveness, and I found it in his kind brown eyes. He has adapted surprisingly well to life in his crate, and tomorrow we go back to the vet to find out what the next step might be. Whatever it is, I know that Alvin will handle it with class and dignity-and the help of this wonderful profession.

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