I read an article the other day about a dog that reminded me of my little “woogle pop” (my nickname for her she was actually called Mia). I have not spoken about her because to be honest it still hurts so much. Mia had a leg that was non functional and it was deformed under her chest. My husband and I rescued her and we had a hectic 3 year journey with her. She was the bravest most precious little soul and my eyes still well with tears when I think about her.
She contracted distemper as a puppy but managed to survive the worst of the virus. Distemper causes a high fever with respiratory and nervous system signs. In severe cases they can have seizures and most cases usually die or are put to sleep. Distemper is one of the viruses we vaccinate dogs for when they are puppies and vaccination usually offers good protection. Mia already had symptoms of Distemper when we rescued her. The only option we had was to support and treat her symptoms.
Once she was over the worse she continued to suffer from some of the symptoms. She had what we called a “tic”. The muscles in her head and in her whole body used to involuntarily contract and relax. This in the long term would be the hardest part of her disease to manage.
Apart from the tic she had stumps for teeth. The distemper virus attacks the enamel of the teeth. She also had really poor muscle tone and this included her tongue. Now this is not a symptom I have read in any veterinary textbook. Her tongue used to hang out the side of her mouth and I think this was due to a combination of her undershot jaw, no teeth and poor tongue tone.
Soon after we rescued her she got a condition called carpal hyperflexion syndrome. The bones of the front limbs grow quicker than the tendons and muscles causing the front legs to bow. Its usually temporary and as a result of poor nutrition then suddenly good nutrition resulting in a spurt of growth. After a few weeks it normally corrects itself. If it doesn’t we use splints to realign the limbs. Mia needed splints as after 4 weeks she was unable to walk. But soon she was up again and we thought we were through the worst.
A few months later my jack russell “Sushi” was playing with her and she knocked her over. Mia hurt her elbow and would not put any weight on the leg. I did some X-rays and we did not see anything significant. Over the next few weeks I continued to struggle with her elbow joint and her “tic” was pulling the leg up towards her chest and she was not putting weight on it. It was swollen and painful for her.
With the assistance of a colleague of mine who is a veterinary Orthopaedic specialist we decided to do a scope to see what was happening in that elbow. We had both never seen anything like it before. The cartilage was like jelly and when probed the probe disappeared into holes down to the bone. There was also severe inflammation in the joint.
Dogs that suffer from Distemper often have a very poor immune system and Mia contracted a joint infection after the arthroscopy. After months of antibiotics, acupuncture, elbow braces we decided that there was not much we could do for that left front leg and it fused in a position under her chest. She was still relatively mobile on the other 3 legs and we made peace that we would have a three legged dog.
Six months later the right elbow started giving us problems. She started showing the same problems in the right elbow that she did in the left. After consulting with the specialist surgeon we decided not to risk going into the joint but rather to fuse the elbow so she could use it as a peg leg. We were worried she would get an infection again. She was using it as a peg leg anyway because she was unable to bend and straighten the elbow.
The surgeon put a plate in the elbow and fixed it at an angle where she could weight bare. One surprising thing we thought was that her “tic” would stop when we put her under anaesthetic but it didn’t. So hats off to the surgeon who had to operate on a pet that was continually moving.
The “tic” causes the screws to loosen over the next 3 weeks and we had to then put an external fixative on. She had this op twice because the ‘tic” broke the first one the second one the surgeon had to reinforce to prevent stress on the hardware. She had post operative infections, screws coming loose, pins migrating if there is a post operative complication then Mia had it.
After 3 years of trying to save Mias legs we decided that she was going to be a dog without front legs. She was amazing the way she was able to move around. Her core was amazingly strong. We called eddies wheels in the states and I ordered her a set of front wheels. We were so excited for her that she was going to be able to run again with her brother and sister.
The days Mia’s wheels arrived was one of the worst days of my life.
I was upstairs changing my child’s nappy when i heard my husband scream for me. I could hear from his tone that there was something seriously wrong. I saw him in the kitchen holding Mia her head hanging, she was limp in his arms. I put her down and felt immediately for a heart beat. There was nothing. I started CPR and it felt like 20 minutes. Who knows how long it was. I did’t want to give up on her. She had had a cardiac arrest and I couldn’t save her.
One hour later the courier company phoned to deliver her wheels.
We were heart broken. As a remembrance to Mia, my little snoggle woggle pop I would like to start a fund called the Mia Handicapped Pets fund. If you have wheelchairs which your pet is no longer using please share this on my facebook page : HolisticvetSA
I have Mias front wheelchair for a dog that needs it.
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