Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Another day goes by

All the latest news.....Check out Blue's Twitter page...............@BluetheGSD

There goes another day, and Blue has been a model patient, resting well in his crate.

We are counting down the days, until he returns for further tests, but we are pleased with his progress so far. He is resting well, has a sparkle back in his eye, and the slightly mischievous side is returning.

Tonight he had a visit from a close neighbour "Aunty Anne" one of Blue's special friends, well she does have a female "Pug" who Blue adores. Anne is going to help us out in giving Blue some visits, to help him stay mentally stimulated, so he does not go stir crazy.

Blue has been going out 3 times a day, to do his business, which is all fit and healthy. These excursions are for no more than 10 minutes each time.

Blue is now getting a cold wet nose, and seems a little more steady on his feet, though it is still evident that there is weakness in his hind legs.

Blue has a sleeping buddy at night, my wife Sue camps out each night down stairs, just in case, we are all more than happy with that, peace of mind is a rarity in our house at the moment, so any snippets are welcomed.

Yesterday we were informed that our car is to be written off, that just underlines the force of the impact of the accident, the chassis has been damaged, but that is a whole different story.

We don't yet know what the long term prognosis of Blue is, this is that awful waiting game that no one wants to play, we can only give him the care and attention that he so richly deserves and hope that is enough.

To think how Blue was this time last week, we are so grateful for the veterinary expertise available to help him, and who we are relying on to help Blue get better.

This has been such a rollercoaster ride this last week, it strains every emotional sinew, and the worse part is not knowing, but we do know that Blue has a strong will, and that gives us strength in these trying and anxious times.

Tomorrow is another day forward, and another day nearer those further scans and tests.......

We will keep doing what we are doing, and share this journey, the love shown to Blue on here and Twitter is very heartwarming, and we include those friends family and neighbours asking each day how he is.

Monday, 28 September 2015

A day out at Fitzpatrick Referrals

After a good nights rest, Blue was to attend Fitzpatrick Referrals in Godalming Surrey, where he would have a 10:00am appointment, to assess the possible cause of his recent ill health.

We made good time, and was amazed how busy this practice had become since our last visit, over 7 years ago. 

The Practice were aware of Blue's misgivings and affliction towards vets, so I waited in the car with Blue, until Sue came out with "Ricardo"who would be assigned Blue as his patient.

We got Blue out of the car, so that he could be seen walking. Blue did not disappoint, making it clear his feelings on vets, but we all expected that reaction, so no big fuss from us or Ricardo.

Blue was walked up and down the road a few times, it was evident that there was something not right, so we headed into the consultancy room to begin to work through the prognosis. The usual barking and gesturing ensued, Ricardo thought perhaps Blue might calm down, but after a while it became evident, a physical exam needed a different strategy.

So after some cunning handling and an element of more of us than Blue, the desired sedative was put in, this would enable the closer physical examination, in most dogs, but not Blue. After giving the sedative time to work, Ricardo returned to the room, only to be greeted by a barking gesturing Blue, time for some more, stronger sedative.

A further period of time elapsed, and the same again, but there was a "Plan C" Blue was going to be anaesthetised, so a member of staff came in to assist, four of us against one Blue, the odds finally came down on our side. Soon enough Blue had succumbed to the sedative sufficient for a physical check, shaved leg, catheter fitted, and anaesthetised.

Gently he was lowered onto a large sling to be carried out of the room, to have his checks done.

That was what happened, the reason it happened is because, through our telling about the accident the previous week, the abnormal behaviour and the history of Blue, Ricardo had heard and seen enough to agree that in this instance only an MRI scan could show what is going on inside of Blue, if there is any damage from the accident or something else. It was very important for that physical exam, because images only show what is there, these need to be seen as part of the picture not the only consideration. 

We were informed a couple of hours later that a CT scan would be also required, which we had agreed to, this along with the blood test to check for Degenerative Myelopathy ( a generic disorder of the spinal cord) they were leaving no stone unturned.

Around six hours after arriving, we were called in to discuss the findings, again along with what we had said, and what was shown up, the picture was still unclear.

Firstly we were shown the MRI images, which showed a number of areas where Blues spine is pressing on his discs and spinal cord, including a degeneration of his original area of spinal surgery. Ricardo explained that if that was all there was, we may be talking of possible surgery, however there was a further complication, this was the reason for the CT scan to be carried out. 

Within the MRI scan an abnormality had shown up around one of Blue's kidneys, this was shown to us on the scanned images. It was large enough to be putting pressure on organs or the spine possibly, however as a mass it did not show any signs of blood flow, reducing the likelihood of a tumour or similar. It was as yet unknown, but could be the result of a bleed or discharge of some fluid, as a direct result of the accident.

We have agreed to give Blue complete crate rest for the next four weeks, then he will return to have a further CT scan carried out to see if the mass in his abdomen is shrinking or doing anything else, the result of that scan may prompt the requirement for a biopsy of the fluid.

We settled our bill at reception, and eagerly awaited Blue, not sure he knew where he was or what had been going on, but he sure seemed eager to be back with us, we put him in the car and drove home.

Less than two hours later, the poor little mite is sleeping off his big day out.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Holiday Blue's

Straight to the point, our holiday did not go to plan, and I will share Blue's adventures in due course.

On Tuesday 22nd September 2015 Blue was in the back of the car, as he normally is, keen to go out and enjoy walking on the Fells and Mountains, when our holiday was interrupted by a vehicle hitting the back of our car at speed.

The force of the impact made both cars un-drivable and requiring removal by break down vehicles, but this was only the beginning.

We were waiting behind stationary cars, one of which was turning right on the A66 just west of Keswick, as always I keep an eye on my mirror, and noticed a red car looming up behind, going too fast to stop, as we braced for impact, the other driver managed to turn away at the last moment, but too late to prevent a collision, the road was blocked, but I managed to get our car off the carriageway, and the usual followed, Police, questions etc.

Initially we thought there were no injuries, Blue looked OK in the back, so we only got him out of the car when most activity had ebbed away.

Eventually the recovery truck arrived to take us back to our holiday cottage, poor Blue had to go back into our car, policy or something. He did look bewildered by it all as he was towed backwards up onto the truck with a sorrowful look to me and Sue.

We then found out that a replacement car would not be delivered until the next morning, so we decided that we would just have an easy day around the holiday cottage.

The next day all still seemed well, the hire car arrived and we got ready to go and meet up with a lady from Workington, Margaret, who also had a German Shepherd called Cito, who we follow on Twitter.

Unfortunately Margaret had an incident which meant a hospital visit was necessary after Paramedics had assessed her after a fall, as we were about to meet up. Sue needed to look after them, while I looked after Blue, so it was decided to take Blue back to the holiday cottage, while Sue did some good samaritan work.

Upon arriving back with Blue, he still seemed right as rain, we waved Sue off, as she disappeared down the road, Blue became restless, constantly pacing, seeming quite agitated. This continued despite all efforts to console or occupy him, eventually he went outside and was sick, a strange milky frothy liquid. Hoping this would make him feel better, he was given good access to fresh water, but he continued unsettled, and remained so for the next couple of hours. Eventually exhaustion seemed to bring him to settle, but moments later Sue walked in, Blue got up and seemed a little wobbly and was promptly sick again, this time it was more of a clear fluid, like the consistency of egg-white.

We were getting more concerned, and made efforts to keep him settled. As part of him being settled we brought down the bedding and mattress so we could sleep down stairs with him, they seemed to help.

The next morning Blue was not himself still, so we decided to go home, if Blue could manage the travelling, we were booked into our local vets in Reading for that afternoon.

Blue is a good traveller and only stirred a couple of times on the 300+ mile journey.

At the vets it was normal service, Blue might not be well, but he is no mood for a vet. Sue carried out some routine checks of Blues legs and spine, and an anti-inflammatory injection , all under close Supervision. One worrying result was the lack of co-ordination in his back right leg, and not correcting it when the paw is placed knuckle down. There were two options, one to leave him in over night or take him back home and monitor him, and returning the next day.

Sue slept downstairs with Blue, I was suffering with back ache, which I had an appointment with my local GP the next day. 

Blue had to continue his crate restriction, only being allowed out for doing his business and eating his food.

The vet visit was to decide the next step, which we had discussed at home the previous evening, we were beginning to wonder if Blue had suffered a delayed reaction from the accident, and possibly damaged his spine. 

We opted to push for a MRI scan at Fitzpatrick Referrals, who had operated on Blue's spine when he was a seven month old puppy, that has now been arranged for Monday morning.

Blue has always had an active holiday, but measured to ensure he does not come to any harm, which is also the main reason he goes swimming once a week.

We will all know better tomorrow, I hope the prognosis is favourable and without surgery, but what ever it is, as always we will make sure Blue gets all the help he needs.

We honestly do not know if this is a result of the car accident, or a coincidence, we just know that Blue has not been himself since that day.

More news will be posted as we find out................

Saturday, 5 September 2015

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 Inject boosters, we have blast-off

The gentler side of Blue

Well, another strange title, but it is all about events of last Thursday, where a trip to the Vets was required for Blue to receive his annual booster and flea,tick and worming chewable tablets.

For those that have followed Blue over the years, none of the following will come as a big surprise, for those that read about Blue for the first time, I am sure it will be descriptive enough for you to feel you were there in the waiting room with him.

It was 5:40pm on Thursday afternoon, and Blue was lifted into the back of the car, not that he can't jump, just not as much these days,beginning to show the mobility of a seven year old large German Shepherd, but in fairness he did leap into the back of the car unaided after swimming last night, sometimes I think he just pulls the wool over our eyes, the sheep in wolf's clothing so to speak.

So we set off to the Vets which is only a couple of miles away, sure in the knowledge that because of Blue's file note "a difficult customer" we have been given a time where there will be no others attending immediately before or after Blues 6:00pm appointment. We arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule, the journey into Reading met very little traffic. Out of the car, and muzzle put on we made our way into the reception, booked in and there was already someone sat waiting. We were informed there was a discharge, a dog being booked out, taking place, so we found a seat and sat down. But before sitting, as we always do, we weighed Blue on the electronic scales - 50.1kg oh dear that has gone up a little since his last visit. More about his weight later.

The surroundings are not unfamiliar to Blue, as he has visited this surgery many times previous, and the anxiety was already showing, his breathing had sped up and his senses were heightened to the max.

With his muzzle on, and the alertness, you can see how his whole demeanour changes, he is not happy and will focus on anything that moves, as time passed by it was evident that the "space" they promised Blue was not going to happen, and time had moved on, but Blue had begun to settle a little despite more people arriving, with a C-A-T in the basket, good job Blue can't spell.

Blue enhances his reputation, and this is not just an image, it is very real, he can not be approached when he is in this zone, he has enough about him to inflict harm, but only because of his anxiety, he is scared, and we do our best to reassure and protect him. The muzzle protects him as much as others.

Eyes firmly focused on the door, he knew where the biggest threat would appear from.

Finally it was our turn to enter "Consultation Room 2" where we were welcomed by a new Vet, who we had not met before. A young Spanish Vet called "Laura Blanco" who was not phased by the snarling and barking of Blue as we entered the room. Upon closing the door conversation was difficult over the constant barking. To her credit she was not concerned or threatened by Blue's antics, making a number of attempts to approach him, but no, Blue wasn't going to engage with anyone in this mood, the halti collar and muzzle were resisting all attempts of Blue to get out, just.

We were there for Blue to receive his booster, which required an injection in between his shoulder blades, (a feat the previous vet could not manage, and my wife Sue (@Bluesmummy) had to administer under supervision from the vet), the idea would be to manoeuvre Blue against the wall while we kept him still for the Vet to insert the drug. Despite all our efforts, Blue is one powerful and determined dog, using all his strength cunning and tactics, only 3/4 of the fluid had been injected.

We tried once more to put the last bit in, but then Blue used his final and most effective tactic, lunging, followed swiftly with a death-roll (just as prey animals, like sharks or crocodiles perform)
no injection was administered then, we had suffered a broken nail for Sue and I had a bruised knuckle.

The Vet said we had two options, either trained nurses would come in to restrain Blue, or as we finally agreed Sue would put in the remaining injection.

Success Sue put in the final part of the vaccination, and calm descended, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. There is probably an element of us being there is not helping Blue, but because of his history we know that it runs far deeper, next time we will consider using a sedative to remove the tension, or hand him in, for them them to treat him in our absence. Either way, Blue is not helping himself, as he is missing out on a thorough examination, god forbid they ever have to take his temperature. 

As we stood discussing the options Laura had gotten close enough to Blue for him to sniff her hand, relaxed, she was excellent, never batted an eyelid, showed no fear of Blue, and was equally concerned for the injuries suffered by me and Sue.

Anyone reading this who has had similar experience and found a way through it, it would be nice to hear.

On the wall was a list of dog statements, I said he is none of them, especially "Happy"

As is customary we left the Vets with a toy for Blue, who was now back to his old self, sat in the car being chauffeured home.

I mentioned earlier about his weight, Blue has always been a large dog, normally fluctuating around 46 - 48 kg but as he is getting older he is becoming less active, a few walks last weekend he kept wanting to lay down, to the point a few walks were cut short. Because he had spinal surgery on his back at 7 months, we monitor his walks and activity.

Blue, only eats dog food, apart from the licking of a lolly stick, once we finished a magnum, oh and when he does the pre-wash on the dishwasher.

Treats are not major, but yes he does have them, he is very driven by treats, but a treat for Blue is also drinking from the outside tap. Sometimes he has to search out the treat.

Anyhow back to his weight. He has perked up since his visit to the vets, so we are going to increase his minutes of exercise, but over more walks, so slightly longer but more frequent, and the last few days he has responded well.

This morning we had a good walk for an hour through the park and surround roads........

lolly stick licking, 

Blue style