Coonhound Paralysis

This blog talks about our experience when Goya (our 150lb English Mastiff) came down with coonhound paralysis (also called acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Goya history of physical progress

In response to someone's email, I dug out the notes gary and I had made about Goya's progress oving his body through this disease. It might help others get a picture of the fits and starts and how slowly he started to come around. These dates are before we started the blog. Aftr April 1, we put progress on the blog (like sitting up, walking, taking stairs, and standing up), so you can find that progress in the posts.

Here's the timeline of his physical progress.
  • 12/05/05 -- weakness in back legs in morning; couldn't stand at all by nighttime -- it took a few days for him to hit bottom with the tail and bark being the last to go.
2-weeks passed when he was really bad and we were figuring out how to care for him. We didn't take notes during this period.
  • 12/17/05 -- I saw him move his foot while dreaming -- a vet-tech told me this was not a sign of anything but I took it as hopeful anyway
  • 12/19/05 -- definitely wagged his tail when my daughter walked in the room, wagged often by 12/21
1-1/2 months passed with no notes about physical progress. We were writing notes every day about what he ate, drank and eliminated, so I believe no noticable physical progress was actually made in this period.
  • 01/31/06 -- jerked his foot when I squeezed his toe (while cutting his toenails). Did this repeatedly. This was the first movement we had seen in almost 2 months. (Unfortunately, I didn't write down which foot moved.)
  • 02/04/06 -- moved his front feet while dreaming very definitely. We hadn't made any notes of that since the middle of Dec so I assume we didn't see it in the interim.
  • 02/05/06 -- interested in chewing a plastic milk bottle (his favorite toy). He did it on his side, with me holding the bottle, for about 5 minutes. This was the first sign of him showing much interest in activity other than being petted.
  • 02/08/06 -- front paw moved while dreaming
  • 02/09/06 -- 1-2 inches of movement in back left foot when I tickled between the pads. He tenses th muscles in his front left leg when I squeezed his front paws. It is now 2 months since he went down and I can finally get any movement repeatedly in response to an action I take.
5 weeks passed with no notes about physical progress.
  • 03/16/06 -- in anticipation of getting a hot dog, he _almost_ rolled from one side to the other. This is the first note of him rolling. NOTE: He _still_ (August) can't roll from one side to the other on his back reliably, even though he can walk. To get from one side to the other, he pushed himself up on his belly and tucks his legs under him (it looks painful, but he never complains). He did roll over 3 times on March 16th, but hardly ever again.
Almost 2 weeks passed.
  • 03/29/06 -- he pushed against my legs with his front feet.
  • 04/01/06 -- took "steps" while in the cattle sling (that is, he didn't have any weight on his feet, but he moved them appropriately when they brushed the floor as I rolled him from the couch to his mattress).
This is where the blog picks up on his physical progress and notable improvements appear in the blog from here on.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Nursing Tip: Wearing the Walkabout

On June 13th, I talked about the "walkabout harnesses" that we had gotten for Goya.

Today I want to tell about a trick we learned for using them.

We have both a front and back harness, which have handles on them to give us something to hold on to when he needs extra help walking. He has now gotten so good at walking that he only needs help to get up into a standing position or to up and down slippery stairs.

The problem:
The harnesses (which my daughter calls "handle pants" and "handle vest") are not the easiest things to get on and off, so we want to leave them on while he walks around the yard by himself. We had a lot of trouble with him keeping the pants on. He would just walk out of them as he sniffed around. Then we'd have to struggle to put them back on him.

The solution we found:
We often said "Goya needs suspenders" when he would walk out of the pants. It only took us a month to figure out that the walkabouts had the equipment to be their own suspenders. The neoprene pants and jacket have long strips of velcro to keep them in place and, in addition, two buckles each with adjustable straps to strap around the dog. We finally figured out that if we took the lower strap on the vest and the upper strap on the pants and made them the longest they could be, we could attach the vest strap to the pants buckle and the pants strap to the vest buckle, making "suspenders" that keep the pants on as Goya walks.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Note to pinenut77 and your dog Mo

I just saw your comment on an earlier post (I can't figure out how to get this blog to notify me when a new post comes in).

I am so sorry that Mo is afflicted, but glad you can carry her outside. Goya also always had control over elimination, it's just harder because we couldn't carry a 150-lb dog.

I realize that Goay's saga is extreme. His age, size, and weight has exaggerated everything, especially the time course of the disease, the nursing requirements and his recuperation. I am worried that what we have helped him through will actually discourage people rather than help, so please remember that much of the time recovery from this disease is a matter of weeks, not months. (See the post with the link to "another dog's story".)

If you want to talk or correspond, we would be happy to do that. Just leave contact information in one of the comments and we'll get back in touch.

Good luck,

Goya stood up by himself!!!!

We were sitting outside Starbucks this morning and Gary came out with Goya's normal treat, a white cheddar brioche, and sat down a few feet from where Goya was lying. I went in to wash the dog drool off my hands before eating and when I came out again, Gary said "You missed it! Goya got up and walked over to me to get his brioche!" We were so happy tat we decided to buy Goya another brioche as motivation after we had finished our own breakfast (giving him about half an hour to rest). Sure enough, when I brought the brioche out, and stood about 10 feet from him (after showing him the brioche close up, of course), he got up and walked ov er to me to get it. This seems like the last major breakthrough!!!!

The conditions fopr him doing this were favorable. It was flat sidewalk, not a grassy hill which has beenthe only surface he's been able to get up on before. But Starbucks has a very rough pebbly concrete outside by the tables, so it is an easier surface than most for pushing against. And, bext of all, it was about 65deg instead of the 85deg it had been last week in the mornings. We all felt more energetic this morning.

We are hoping for steady progress from here on in the standing up department. Starbucks will certainly get our business every morning!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Goya walks further and does stairs

It's been more than two weeks since Goya walked to Starbucks for the first time and stood up by himself with a little help from gravity (sitting on a hill). I have to report that progress has been slow in these past three weeks. It's been very hot and maybe that has something to do with it (nobody wants to exert themselves, why should he?).

He is walking further. We go to Starbucks every morning and that is getting easier and eaiser (expecially if its a little cooler). Gary has been taking him around the block (it's a loooong block with a prety big up-hill section) and that takes about an hour, but gary takes a book and lets Goya rest wenever he wants to sit down. Only once has he been able to get up by himself even when sitting on a hill. We walked to the bank tonight and he almost got up by himself at a curb. He had been so well-trained to sit when we got to a curb before crossing the street, that he did that tonight several times. This was the first time we used a collar and leash instead of the walkabout "handle pants", so maybe he felt more like his old self. At one curb, his front feet slipped into the street while he was trying to get up and they was almost enough to help him get up, butnot quite.

He is now going up and down the front stoop steps -- 6 rough concrete steps. He doesn't slip on those, and he is very careful. Good boy!

We really wish he would hurry up and stand by himself. We have to take our daughter to college in a few weeks and his regular "doggy sitter" can't take him if he can't get up by himself. We'll have to put him on a regimen of deep knee bends.