Monday, December 31, 2007

Rude Awakening

So we got our new king sized mattress delivered last Friday and I love it. It definitely needs some breaking in, but it's so nice to stretch out. Between my husband, me, and the three furbabies, a queen sized bed was just too small.

The bed was on the expensive side and the sheets and pillows and comforter added up, too. So, I guess you could say that I am a mite bit sensitive to keeping this bed in good condition.

This leads me to this morning's rude awakening.

Although I need to back up a minute. First off, yes, we do let our cat and two dogs sleep with us. I know, I know, everything that you read about dog obedience really cautions you against letting animals share your bed. But there is just nothing like a furry little body to warm up against and I love having them there. Our dogs are also alone during the day a lot when we are at work, so it seems almost cruel to keep them away at night, too.

Our little dog, Jack, is nine years old. He is a terrier mix, of the Jack Russell Terrier family - or Jack Russell Terrorist as a friend of ours calls him. Jack is. . . well, Jack is special. We got him from the humane society and the guy told me not to get him. The guy said that he would be a problem dog and he has lived up to his reputation. He is too smart for his own good, can get himself out of any crate, even injuring himself in the process. He soils the carpet if he is left home alone and consequently, he and Rocky have to stay in the garage while we are away from home (but don't worry, true to our dog-loving nature, the garage is heating and my husband built special pet beds for them). On the other hand, he is fiercely loyal, loves us to no end, and is wonderful with children. I call him my shadow, because he follows me everywhere and cannot bear to be away from us.

For the past 18 months, Jack has started developing back problems. He will be fine for months and then have an "episode." During an "episode," he is in extreme pain and can barely move. It is really sad. We have taken him to the vet several times, spent several hundreds of dollars on special x-rays, medications, blood tests, etc. All to no avail. During an "episode," we treat him with prednisone and a muscle relaxant, and wait for the symptoms to pass. It usually takes a couple of days and then he is fine again.

This last episode started the week before Christmas. I noticed he was acting funny again, with his tail tucked between his legs and seeming restless, unable to find a comfortable spot. I gave him a half of prednisone as a precaution. That night, he started making these funny noises in bed. . . right before he peed all over me! Of course, he soaked through the comforter, sheets, but luckily, it didn't get to the mattress because he soaked me.

I took him to the vet the next day. He had an exam and a urine culture which was negative. The urinating thing is a new symptom to the episodes, so we were concerned about a potential urinary tract infection. The vet decided that it was "behavioral" and almost $100 later, we were on our way.

Over the past week, his pain has gotten worse. We have increased the prednisone and muscle relaxant dosages. It seems that we can control the pain, but that it isn't getting much better. We called the vet, but they are out of ideas. Their only recommendation is a referral to a specialist who can do a MRI on him to look for nerve damage - for the bargain price of $1300. If they fine something (That's a really big if as the last x-ray only showed that he had pain in his lower back of no known origin. Really helpful, thanks.) then the surgery to fix him could range from $4000 - 6000! And the recovery and prognosis for a dog of his age is not good, around 50% will recover to lead a "normal" life.

So, now we are looking at a minimum of $1300 and probably more. So, we decided to see if we could get Jack over this latest "episode" with the medication and lots of TLC.

It seemed like he was getting better yesterday. And then, at 6:00 this morning, I heard that familiar funny noise, followed by feeling the warm wetness of Jack peeing all over our bed. . . our brand new bed. Luckily, we had purchased the waterproof mattress cover and it did its job, but I am now knee deep in laundry, including a trip to the dry cleaner to clean our new comforter.

I love my animals. They are like children to me. They comfort me when I am sad, their wagging tails make my day. Jack has been my "baby" for seven years. I can't just let him be sick and not try to find the answer.

But I also don't believe in prolonging an animal's suffering. He is not suffering right now, he is still eating, drinking, and peeing (obviously). But when he shakes and cries from the pain, I feel like a monster for hesitating on getting the MRI. But that's a lot of money. Money we can definitely use for other things.

Each time Jack recovers from an "episode," I breathe a sigh of relief, so glad that we don't have to make a tough choice. I don't know how much longer we will be getting that reprieve.

11 comments:

alison said...

Oh Katie, I'm so sorry about Jack! I hope this latest episode passes and you won't have to face that difficult decision. At least what he peed on was washable and you can make it close to good as new. I'm VERY jealous of your new bed, btw. We're going to have to deal with a queen bed for a few more years I'm afraid. At least we're lucky that our dogs get too ansy sleeping with us and hop down to the floor. I even tried to get them to sleep with us when they were puppies but they had none of it.

Lots of hugs to you and Jack!

Tracy said...

Yikes. That's a toughy. You know I'm a pet lover, and I don't know what I'd do in the same situation, by yikes, that's a LOT of money.

I hope Jack is feeling better soon...

We got a King size shortly after getting married and we LOVE it. Gus will not sleep with us, either. a) because we don't let him, most of the time, and b) because he gets too hot. Good thing since he weighs 120 pounds.

Thinking about you lots!

Yodasmistress said...

That sucks about the dog pee on the new bed. I know this is somewhat unrelated but one of my cats is SUPER finicky about the litter box(es) and will use whatever is on the floor if he doesn't feel I've been keeping up with the scooping as I should. It is freaking IRRITATING!!!

As for the pet ailments. I feel ya on this one. One of my kitties got ran over by a car a few years ago. It cost me several THOUSAND dollars to get him all fixed up but I shelled out the dough. (Of course he was only 3 at the time.) You have to do what is right for you. If you put him to sleep some people will say you are mean. If you spend a bunch of money on treatment some people will say you're crazy. There is no right answer. Only what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do. Good luck and I hope it is YEARS before you have to make that choice.

Polka Dot said...

The poor thing! I know what you mean - between episodes it seems ok. During them, it's so hard to watch. Maybe the peeing thing is just that it's too painful for him to get up - that combined with muscle relaxers and ... well ... I'd probably pee the bed too.

I'd give my eye teeth for a king sized bed. With 3 cats, a dog (albeit a 12lb dog), and my DH & I, our queen bed is seriously crowded.

Searching said...

Prednisone would cause my old dog to pee. On the floor right in front of me, on my bed (yes, he slept with me until the day he was too old to jump on it), in the car. I was horrified and thought at the age of 12 I would have to put him down. But no, it was the pred. We weaned him off and I never put him back on it. I know it makes them thirstier which means they need to be let out more and I'm sure with the muscle relaxers it just makes it hard for Jack to keep it all in. Lance was on deramaxx for the pain and also glucosamine and chondroitin chewies for arthritis. The cottage cheese and flax seed oil I started when he had cancer so I'm not sure what all that helped.

Maybe get a second opinion from another vet on what is causing this. $100 vet bill to hear the same thing or maybe something new vs thousands in treatments. Do you have a vet school near you? They usually take difficult cases.

I'm so sorry about your sweet pup. Animals and babies are my heart, equally, so I will be praying for his little hurt self and you. I'm sorry about your bed. I put an eggcrate mattress on top of the mattress pad and then a waterproof one you get for kids who wet the bed on top of all that. Yes, my critters are always spoiled. :)

My Reality said...

Our dog was our baby. We lost him last September. He suffered from terrible back pain at times and it was heart breaking. When he had a flare-up, we put him on a drug called Metac.am. There is a generic of it called melox.icam. I don't know if that is what your Jack has taken or not, but if he hasn't I highly recommend it. It was a wonder drug for him, so much so that I considered taking it myself a few times.

I hope he is feeling better soon. Give him a belly rub from me.

Fertilize Me said...

OH NO you and your poor lil dog!

I do hope that he gets better soon or you come up with an affordable solution

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie, I've followed your blog regularly for the past few months and really appreciate it. I'll spare you my gorey details but 5 years total of IF, 3 m/c, multiple IUI's and one failed IVF later I have an almost 3 YO daughter and her baby brother is due in 5/08. I also happen to be a DVM (vet), and want you to know jack russells can be prone to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) which can be very painful and progressive. An MRI is an excellent idea and should have been offered long ago, in my opinion. I think a visit to a boarded neurologist is your next step- a definitive diagnosis does saves $$ in the long run, and then at least you KNOW your options (surgery, euthanasia, medical management). Sort of like our journey: specialists when needed, and ideally treatment directed at the problem rather than "shotgunning" it. Hope I'm not sounding like I'm on a soapbox, just want your pup to have a long and happy (pain free)life.

Ally said...

Oh, Katie, I'm so sorry. Our furchildren are such wonderful bright spots and it's heartwrenching when they are in pain. I don't know what the best course of action for Jack is, but I'm sure you and your husband will know as you keep your eye on Jack. I hope this is a short-lived episode.

Maria said...

I'm so sorry about Jack. It's so hard when our furbabies are in pain or sick. We love them like our children!! I'll be keeping you and Jack in my prayers.

Happy New Year!

Debby said...

Oh so sorry about your little doggie. Our dog is our baby too and she's had problems with seizures and there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing our fur babies in pain. I've also done my share of dry cleaning runs for comforters soaked in pee...so I share in that annoyance there. I hope that Jack pulls through and that the TLC is just what is needed to fix things.