White Dog was holding her own and I had just about convinced myself that her leg issue over the weekend had simply been a manifestation of stress build up. She came out from behind her hideout chair limping. I met her eyes and reached for the phone.
I had not finished identifying myself before the receptionist put me on hold as she went to get Dr. Julia's #1, Cindy. She was in the process of trying to get a legible copy of the vet's ER report and then was going to call me; I beat them to it. Before I started she said, "We know for you to have taken Siku to ER, it had to have been something serious." She spent almost forty minutes with me on the phone asking me to relate what had happened, what led up to it, what has WD's reaction been. Cindy wanted to know about how we had poked and prodded and manipulated and what our impressions were, about how White Dog reacted. Toward the end, she indicated that Dr. Julia had joined her and asked about the ER diagnosis. When I said that they could not get White Dog to limp so that they did not do xrays, my vet exploded. And when I indicated that Siku had been so stressed out that she needed muzzling, Cindy smacked the table with her hand. "She is in pain, didn't they realize that! Your dog would NEVER snap, we know that from experience." The vet insisted we bring our baby in today for a complete bloodworkup and xrays. "Something is wrong," she said, "and we need to know!"
When we arrived, White Dog was shaking but did not even snarl as the tech took her to draw blood. Xrays were taken and a thorough physical exam was done (Dr. Julia even asked us to show her how we had checked White Dog over when the event happened on Saturday).
Her stomach is certainly tender was the first comment followed by, she is walking with a funny gait.
The bloodwork was all fine which ruled out Lyme disease, an infection, pancreatitis, and a plethora of other possibilities. The xrays revealed a lower back issue where there appears to be some awkwardness in the structure (whether from inflammation or defect is not yet clear). This kink is causing White Dog to walk sort of hunkered over and putting pressure on the leg nerves. It is also constricting her stomach causing air to build up in her intestines because she is not digesting properly. We decided on a shot of steroids and an antibiotic with an update tomorrow. If the shots have helped return White Dog to her normal prance and loosened up her tummy, then Dr. Julia will prescribe a course of medication to clear up the problem.
If not, we will look at other possibilities, like petite mal seizures or other neurological options. Dr. Julia agreed that both the back and intestinal problems can be intensified because of stress but she was emphatic that there is a real medical problem underlying the limping.
Dr. Julia is good and pulls no punches. She has known White Dog all of her life and has taken time over the years to understand not just the dog, but her people, and her home environment. It was comforting when she said, "You know Siku better than anyone including me and you truly do pay attention to her needs and moods. When you tell me there is a problem and that it seems like mini strokes, I am going to take you seriously and start my search there. You guys know your baby girl!"
The Other White Dog, Another White Dog, Still Another White Dog, and Yet Another White Dog crowded around us as we tried to come into the door. "Please give White Dog some space," I requested. "She IS injured but Dr. Julia thinks that she will get better quickly but we must give her space and quiet if she wants it." The WDA parted, opening a floof free path for their leader. White Dog passed through in gratitude and went to lie on the bed.