“There’s always a way.” That’s a quote from a Batman comic book in the early 1960’s. Batman spoke it when he and Robin were caught in a supposedly deadly and unescapable trap. Robin told him that this was the end and started saying goodbye when Batman spoke the line and helped them escape. “There’s always a way.” Those words stuck with me since I first read them. They have helped me through my life every time I realize how universally true they are.
Okay, so what the hell does this have to do with pets? Good question. Here’s the answer: Many times I’ve had veterinarians say there was nothing more they could do for an ailing pet. In those cases, I would seek do my own research into the problem and sometimes seek out another doctor.
When my first dog Mandy started having problems in 2006, I found a study that mentioned a natural supplement that had helped pets having her problems. The vet agreed to try it. It was expensive and had to be made by a compounding pharmacy, but it gave her more than an additional year with a great quality of life.
When Marty blew out both knees within a week, I found a skilled surgeon who gave him twin knee replacements. It was expensive but, at age 13, he is as good as new, although I’m disappointed he can’t jump over 20 foot walls in slow motion like the Six Million Dollar Man.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2019. Melody, our 8-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, started running away from us. Even inside she would hide and not come when we called. She had repeated episodes of panting and shaking. Here’s what followed:
1. Trip to the pet emergency room. The doctor said she might be in pain, since dogs often hide when they hurt, part of the “fight or flight” response. The doctor gave us Gabapentin to relieve her pain. That night, she kept leaving the bed to hide in a closet or under the counter in the bathroom.
2. Appointment with our regular vet. She took x-rays and there were no visible problems that she could see. She concurred that Melody could be in pain and prescribed additional pain medication and said that she should have an ultrasound in a couple of days if the panting, shaking and running away continued.
3. Another trip to the emergency room that night as Melody’s shaking and panting got much worse. They scheduled her for an ultrasound.
4. The ultrasound procedure the next day showed nothing remarkable. We continued the gabapentin, which at least knocked her out.
5. Our vet suggested a neurological consult since we were all suspecting brain involvement at this time.
6. The neurological consultation was extremely thorough. The canine neurologist could find no visible signs of a problem, but Melody was still panting, shaking and running away. He said if she remained the same for another couple of days, she should have an MRI.
7. Our regular vet prescribed an anti-anxiety medication which did help quite a bit, but did not totally eliminate her problems.
8. The next day, Rosanne noticed that Melody’s head snapped up and she started shaking when I walked on our hardwood floor with my everyday shoes. She stopped shaking as soon as I stood still. She started shaking when I started walking again, calming down when I stopped. I realized that my shoes probably made a squeak only dogs could hear every time I took a step.
9. I changed shoes. Melody returned to normal in less than a day. She’s now fine, it’s like nothing happened.
She is terrified of the chirp from the smoke detectors when their batteries need changing. The squeak from my shoes, while inaudible to humans, probably sounded a bit like that squeak to her dog ears. It had taken the soles a couple of months to get to the point where they produced the noise.
I’m grateful for the veterinarians who did everything they could to help Melody. The total for the 7 days was a little over $1600, but the relief she received while we were looking for the final “culprit” was worth every penny. I’ll do anything to keep my fur kids healthy and happy. And be sure to check out my new book, “Why I Drive a 14-Year-Old Car.” Merry Christmas!
“There’s always a way!” The phrase “Never give up, never surrender,” from the film Galaxy Quest also applies. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me in my life.
© 2019 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.