Three weeks after Sam’s visits to the emergency vet when we thought he was back to normal on a Saturday evening (again! Those with pets know that these things always happen on a weekend or holiday.) Sam refused to walk up his ramp to sit on the couch and retreated to the kitchen where he huddled in a corner. Feeling his back it was clear that the spasms were back stronger than ever. When we got to the emergency vet where the staff was getting to know us quite well, it was obvious that Sam was in a good deal of pain, quivering, refusing to stand up and panting – almost gasping loudly. After his examination we had a long consult with the Dr. on duty and concluded that conservative measures had failed and we were now looking at surgery. And now comes the point where some readers may ask “What the hell were you thinking?”. We were told that surgery would run three to four thousand dollars. We knew as we drove Sam to the clinic that we were likely to be facing this and what were the choices? Well, we could opt for palliative measures as he became paralyzed and see if he could adapt to life in a cart (a type of dog wheel chair), we could have him put down or we could opt for the surgery. Many times there are reasons to choose each one of these and most of them are financial. There are those who would say “let him go, it’s just a dog” and to those people all I can offer is a sad shake of my head knowing that they have never really formed such a bond with a dog that they realize how a dog becomes a family member. For many the cart becomes the answer and when considering surgery we were completely aware that sometimes surgery fails and the dog winds up in a cart anyway. But we had the financial means and even if we had to scrimp in other areas, Sam had brought so much love and pleasure to us that there really was no question that we would try the surgery. So Iowa State was called and they wouldn’t take him on a Saturday night unless he had lost all motor function, which he hadn’t. So we elected to board him at the clinic until Iowa State would take him so his pain could be controlled.
Sunday afternoon we got a call from the clinic that Sam was rapidly losing deep pain sensation and all motor function, Iowa State had been called and was prepared to receive him, so we picked him up from the clinic and drove to Ames. To shorten this long story, we consulted with a surgeon and he decided to operate immediately as soon as an MRI was obtained. There being nothing more we could do there we went home to wait for a phone call.