Monday, April 04, 2005

The Conversation with the Neurologist

Apparently Mom sent this email to my my neurologist and then talked to him on the phone. I know all this because I troll Mom's computer when she goes out and I pick up the phone extension when she talks on the phone. I'm actually an undercover agent for the Free Dog Nation. But that's another story.

Anyway, Mom sent this email to Dr. Pedroia.

Dr. Pedroia,

I thought it would be easiest if I wrote down a few notes about Sam so we can discuss on the phone.

  • What are the results of the MRI?
  • What are the results of the spinal fluid test?
  • What about the loss of 90% of his bark (you will have to listen to it on the phone). His bark is now a squeak.
  • Given those results what is the most likely prognosis?
  • What can we do to help Sam?

I want to treat him if there is any possibility at all for improvement. He is very hard to handle because he is so big. Additionally, he appears to be in pain or in some discomfort. The issues with caring for him are as follows:

  • He is hard to manage because of his size.
  • A muzzle absolutely must be placed on him anytime he is moved or asked to move. He bit me lightly a month ago.
  • Is it pain that is causing him to bite? I think that it is. What can we do for him? His vet gave him some pain medication (torbutrol) which caused him to became terribly drowsy and rock his head back and forth. Perhaps the dose was too high? Shall I try this again at a smaller dose?
  • His peeing is not a problem right now. If I take him out 4 times/day with the harness, there aren’t any accidents in the house.
  • He may or may not poop in the house. He tries to get outside but he can’t make it. The poops are solid though, no diarrhea, so this is bearable. I believe if he was going for daily walks, the poops would come out then naturally.
  • He has trouble sitting up and eating. When he kneels down for the food he tends to fall into it. I bought a raised food and water dish for him and he seems much more comfortable.
  • A few months ago, when he first stopped walking, my other GSD (Elsa, age 14) jumped on him, twice. She has jumped on other dogs, she is very dominant, but she has never bit another dog or hurt them in any way…she just pushes them to the ground. In Sam’s case, she jumped him when he first stopped walking on two different occasions. She didn’t hurt him at all, but he bit her each time. Not undeservedly of course. This means though that I cannot leave them together unsupervised. I’ve solved this by putting Elsa in the crate when I go out.
  • Sam wakes and whines and cries during the night. I brought a bed into the family room and I slept next to him for several weeks He will stop whining if I comfort him but he may start up again later. This is a terrible disruption of my sleep unfortunately. I left him alone in the family room last night (not really alone, Elsa my other GSD sleeps in there too), and he woke up and whined twice. I petted him and gave him some food and eventually he stopped. Another person with a DM dog told me he gives his dog melatonin and this helps the dog sleep.
  • Sam seems happy when he is eating, getting a treat, barking at the cats, in his cart. The rest of the time I am not so sure.

Sam was an outdoor dog for the first 10 ½ years of his life, then thrown away by the family when he became an inconvenience (they started to remodel their house and moved to an apartment). I’ve had Sam for 7 months. He loves being an indoor dog. My hope is to given him one more summer as a beloved pet.

Please help us.

Thanks very much.

Cynthia Typaldos
Pet Guardian of Sam the beautiful all-black German Shepherd Dog
(Sam’s blog includes pictures of you and Sam)


When Mom talked to Dr. Pedroia on the phone he said that the tests came back normal. That sounds good but Mom didn't seem happy. I guess that means I have degenerative myelopathy or DM, whatever that is. Dr. Pedroia said is is kind of like multiple sclerosis in people.

But Dr. Pedroia said it was unusual for me to get better on steroids which I did a few months ago. So he wants to try steroids again, this time prednisone.

He listened to my squeaky bark over the phone and thought it was kind of weird. No obvious explanation.

Of course I just listen to these conversations and the words go in one ear and out the other. I don't process any of it because I am only a dog. And I know that Mom will take care of me!


At 9:32 PM, Blogger Splash barked...

Squeeky bark! So what, although perhaps embarrassing for a big guy like yourself, that is no big deal. Any any dog that likes bananas cannot be all bad. (and I am forever in your debt for getting me the opportunity to try them)

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Cal the Wonderdog barked...

You have a nice Mom! Just like me cause if anyone gets sick around here she takes awesome care of us. And don't think too hard on all that medical stuff if you can and think about the great spring that's here. I love to lay outside when the cool Spring weather is here. Do you get to lay outside these days?

Just wondering, Cal

At 3:15 AM, Blogger Sam the beautiful all-black German Shepherd Dog! barked...

Splash - now that your humans are giving you the banana, go for the banana peel! It's even better than the banana. I only got a hold of the peel once, but mmmmm mmmmm good, if a little stringy. Swallow quickly or your human can pull it out.

Cal - spring is here too with lots of rain. But I don't like to be outside! I spent the first part of my life -- 10 1/2 years -- outside all the time. Now in my golden years with my new family I am a couch potato. Being in the house with my family is wonderful. Elsa, my doggy sibling, feels the same way because her life was similar. So we just hang out on the rugs and dog beds and only go outside when absolutely necessary.


At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Max barked...

Hi Sam,

Max here. I just wanted to tell you and your Mom that my auntie and I have been keeping you both in our thoughts and prayers. We are so touched by your Mom's efforts to handle a very difficult situation with grit and grace. You're not a slacker in those departments either Sam.



At 6:20 PM, Blogger China barked...

Hey Sammy, being inside is great! I like to be outside too, especially now that the warm times are here, but there's just nothing like curling up on your own couch (well...sometimes I share), laying your head on a soft, squooshy pillow and snoozing away.

You just keep enjoying life and trust your mom. She knows what's best for you. Moms are great that way.

-Woof! (China)


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