Congratulations to the October pet of the month: Greta.
The first time I saw Greta, Parker (her big lab brother) and she came to the clinic for boarding. I thought she was the prettiest Dachshund I had ever seen in my life. She was 4 years 3 months at that time and I couldn’t believe how blue and expressive her eyes were. They complimented her dapple color perfectly. Greta, on the other hand, was not as thrilled to see me. She immediately went to her safe spot between Parker’s legs and kept an anxious eye on me. After a couple of days of boarding she started to warm up to me and we started bonding. From that point on I always had a great time with Greta and Parker. Over the next year Parker and Greta came for boarding multiple times and our bond kept getting stronger.
One day, Greta’s owner called to inform us that she wasn’t walking right and that the night before she had a bad time trying to get out of her kennel. Her owner decided to bring her in for an exam. After performing a thorough exam, Dr Forbes diagnosed Greta with hind limb paralysis with no pain sensation in the hind limbs. This is commonly due to a slipped disc in Dachshunds because of their long backs. Loss of deep pain indicates a severe compression of the spinal cord and carries a guarded prognosis for return of function. Dr. Forbes decided referred Greta to the University of Missouri Veterinary Health Center for an emergency MRI and surgery.
Greta was admitted to the University Health Center under the care of Dr Kishi. Testing confirmed compressed disc spaces at T12-T13 and T13-L1 (Two disc spaces in the center of her back). Dr Kishi performed surgery to remove the extruded disc material compressing her spinal cord. Unfortunately, at surgery it was also discovered that there was additional compression along the length of 10 vertebrae due to hemorrhage at the time of injury. Fortunately Greta has very dedicated owners that elected to continue with surgery and give Greta a chance. She recovered well, but she was unable to use her hind legs or urinate on her own. Pets unable to completely empty their bladder can become susceptible to bladder infections. Greta was discharged 6 days later with pain medications and antibiotics for a bladder infection she developed. Her owners were instructed to keep her confined to her kennel for six weeks during which the owner should perform some physical therapy and express her bladder every eight hours.
Greta came to stay with us during the daytime for the next month so that we could assist with extra bladder emptying while the owner was at work and she was recovering from her infection. We were always happy to welcome her in the clinic. I would look forward to seeing Greta; it became part of the morning routine for me. We implemented a strict schedule for her that over time everyone got used to, even Greta. Both Dr. Forbes and Dr. Sappington (depending on schedule and availability) expressed her bladder daily and made sure she would get all her medications and food. Because Greta couldn’t use her back legs, we created a sling with a regular towel that would support her back end while she walked with her front legs. Walking her that way must have encouraged her to act more like herself because one day as Dr. Sappington was walking her back towards the entrance of the clinic, Greta started urinating on her own. We all knew we hit a milestone and couldn’t be happier for her. Maybe there is hope that she will be able to urinate completely on her own some day.
On May 5th, Greta went back to the University clinic for a recheck. Dr. Mauler was there for her examination this time. She found that Greta is healing normally. Unfortunately Greta did not regain use of her hind limbs and still requires that her bladder get emptied manually each day. Thanks to science and some really ingenious people, Greta was able to get a wheelchair cart for movement. Today Greta enjoys her life like she used to, she doesn’t look back and keep things “rolling” forward.