Just a quick note on problem solving.
My dearest pet, Gizmo, hurt himself a few weeks ago.
At some point immediately after our move, he threw his neck out. This may sound crazy, but the pain was very real- I have never in my pet-owning life seen an animal have muscle spasms like this. Initially I thought he was having small seizures, but he was completely conscious, the muscles spasms didn’t have an obvious starting or stopping point, and there was no incontinence. He simply couldn’t walk, and would yelp if his head was positioned in a certain way. After a plethora of tests and physical examinations at our vet, he was diagnosed with intervertebral disk disease, and placed on an array of medications that we are unfortunately still tinkering with, trying to find a dosing that keeps him comfortable. I love my dog to the moon and back, but we are throwing the kitchen sink at him, in hopes things do not progressively worsen. While I may be classified as an obsessed owner, I am not a unreasonable- completing neurosurgery on an 11 year-old dog is not an option I am considering. Therefore, I am medically and holistically treating this dog in the best way I know how for conservative management.
Oftentimes with these types of injuries, conservative treatment is the same as with humans- rest is key to recovery. I am thankful to have never had a severe neck or back injury such as this, but my friends, family, and patients have all told me the same thing- this takes time and rest. Rest for us humans can be fun- we get to relax for the first time in God knows how long, maybe read a book, veg on the couch, watch Netflix for hours on end…but for dogs this is their definition of misery. Gizmo isn’t even an active dog; he is described by many to be more like a cat. Even so, we are accustomed to walking 1-2 miles a day, which is quite a change from being stuck at home, not doing anything at all for weeks on end.
After three weeks of this conservative treatment, with minimal improvement, I asked myself- “What is going on here? What am I missing?” I went back to the drawing board, and the conclusion I finally came to was simple- I asked myself what Gizmo would want. The answer is likely the same thing for all dogs- to be happy and not be in pain. Even if I can’t cure my dogs discomfort, I certainly have the tools to help him with this.
The next day, I went back to my vet. We completed another round of steroid injections, started a third prednisone taper, added on muscle relaxers, and completely re-organized his diet to add more pure nutrients, mostly based around raw meat, vegetables, fruits, and supplements to better support for his little fragile body.
Of course, that helped put together the answer for the “not in pain” aspect of my problem- but what about his happiness? And then it dawned on me- he would like to be outside again.
So, I started my search. The typical dog wheelchair wouldn’t work with the intervertebral disk disease Gizmo has- he is supposed to be resting, and this would not only cause him more physical work but also the wheelchairs are seemingly better at supporting hind legs, and the front part of his body is what’s most affected by this problem. I next thought about a baby stroller. However, he would likely slip out of a conventional stroller. That said, if he wanted to be outside again, the stroller theme seemed like the best option. I started my Craigslist search, and after typing in my zip code, I found it- a Chicco Key Fit Caddy infant carrier stroller, that allows for a click in car seat.
The owners were not selling the car seat carrier, and apparently they had never used the actual stroller, as this appeared to be in new condition. This option seemed perfect- I could put him in the bottom of the stroller, so he could still see out of the top and have a steady flat space to sit on, while not being able to easily jump out. Listed at $60, I emailed the seller, offered $40 and a next day pick up, and they took me up on my proposition.
The pick-up went smooth and thankfully, the carrier was in the exact condition as pictured online. When I came home, I placed a small dog bed in the bottom, put him on top of this, and covered his back side with a small fleece to keep him warm. He was certainly confused at first, but he clearly didn’t hate it. When we started to roll, he looked back at me a few times, but once he looked forward, his ears started flapping in the wind, and he became totally engaged in the world around him. He smiled and was obviously excited for the first time in weeks. It’s been the best outcome I could have hoped for.
Price of Chicco Key Fit Caddy Lightweight Aluminum Infant Carrier Stroller brand new= $100
Price paid on Craigslist (in perfect condition)= $40
With a small amount of effort and creativity, I was able to find an affordable option to help make my beloved dog happy again in such a discouraging time. Is there a problem you’re having in your life that could use a secondhand solution?