Quick Update

Just a quick update on Gabriel. We have made it to once a month acupuncture treatments. So, far things are going well. The third week is a bit troubling, but nothing to take a step backwards.

His EPI is at bay and he is now a wonderful 91 lb dog. It’s amazing to me to look back at his health record and see 64 lbs in June 2010.

At the age of 6, he is healthy, happy and currently fast asleep on his mat.  We couldn’t ask for more…

Have a great rest of the day.

A few X-Rays; Gabriel’s spin

Finally, a few images of Gabriel‘s spinal issue. We are still working the images from the MRI, but I’m hoping these x-rays help show the uphill battle we have been fighting.

As described before, Gabriel has a herniated discs between his L1 & L2. The dog‘s spine is broke into 3 different section from head to behind (L1, L2, L3). What a herniated disc means is the disc protecting and supporting the spinal cord is damaged. The damage of a disc has ranged. Gabriel’s disc is severely damaged and is pushing against his spinal cord.

A dog’s spinal cord is very similar to ours (humans). We, humans, have discs that protect and support our spinal cord the same as a dog. The spinal cord transfers all of our bodily function from head to toes — same as a dog’s.  This is why any injury to our spinal cord or its protective layer is critical. Any disturbance no matter how small we can lose the ability to move.

Below are some images are Gabriel’s x-ray. These x-rays show us his herniated disc, but also other problematic discs. These problematic disc could led to additional herniated discs.

Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 1 A –

During the break-down stage  of disc, a calcium build up occurs which causes various issues. In this image the calcium build up is pushing up against the spinal cord causing brainwaves not to make it to other parts of the body. From disc A to the right is where the dysfunction is occurring. The calcium buildup is shown by where the end of the red arrow is pointing.

Exhibit 1 B –

The disc shown here is a healthy disc. You can see that there is no distortion in the x-ray. This is shown by the ‘black’ around where the red arrow is pointing.

Exhibit 1 C –

Both C red arrows are pointing to the ribs.

Exhibit 2:

Exhibit 2 A –

The arrow is pointing to the herniated disc.  The discs on either side of the “A” are normal healthy discs.

Exhibit 2 B –

The red arrow is pointing to the dogs intestines

Exhibit 2 C –

Both C red arrows are pointing to the ribs.

Exhibit 2 Head –

The arrow is pointing to the direction of the Gabe’s head. The opposite direction is to the Gabe’s tail.

(Last Image)

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 3 A –

The arrow is pointing to a compressed disc that may cause an issue as the Gabriel ages. It is common to find more than one herniated disc.  The discs on either side of the “A” are normal healthy discs.

Exhibit 3 B –

The red arrow is pointing to the Gabe’s hip/hip joints

Exhibit 3 C –

Both C red arrows are pointing to the ribs.

Exhibit 3 Herniated Disc

The arrow is pointing to the direction of the Gabriel’s herniated disc.


I hope the images and explanations above help you understand the difficultly and discomfort Gabriel is dealing with. A herniated disc is not an uncommon thing in veterinarian medicine.  Any wrong step or missed jump can cause a disturbance on the disc. In Gabriel’s case, the herniated disc has been deteriorating over time. This may indicate a family bloodline issue or just something that happens. The acupuncture treatments have been helping Gabriel tremendously. I have posted about our acupuncture visits in previous blogs.

Once, we figure out how to convert the MRI images to jpegs or another image format. I will post them up. These images will actually show the disc compression on the spinal. And you will see how lucky we are that Gabriel is walking and that he does not need surgery until we reach a more critical stage.

Treatment Day for Gabriel

It’s Saturday, which means either a long run or taking Gabriel to Boulevard Veterinary Hospital for his bi-weekly acupuncture treatments. It’s acupuncture Saturday, in case you couldn’t figure that out.  Gabriel started with receiving acupuncture once a week. When he was ready, about 2 weeks later, he was moved to bi-weekly with the idea of moving to every 3 weeks then once a month and so on. Unfortunately, we have been in the every 14 days stage for a few months now.  The reason for this — Gabriel loses control of his hind quarters the 12th night or 13th morning. This means he has ataxia (mild case, but not worth chancing). The best way to explain ataxia — is a drunken rear — think of a drunk person not being able to walk straight and stumbling around.  The ataxia is caused because his brain messages are not making it to this back legs. Keep in mind, his herniated disc is in the middle of his back, which means all areas from that herniated disc to the tip of his tail are not receiving signals/messages from his brain. This is why it’s not worth chancing  moving to the every 3 weeks stage.

At today’s visit, we decided to take the acupuncture treatments to the next level. The vet placed 18 needles into Gabe’s nervous system. Normally, it is 20 needles, but this time 4 metal clips were placed on certain needles near his herniated disc. These clips were connected to wires which in turn were connected to an electricity box that was pushing 5 volts through the needles. This helps stimulate more nerves without harming or causing any discomfort to the patient (human or animal).

Gabe did not even worry about it all the extra stuff. Once, the doctor and assistant left, he turned to side and fell asleep for the 20 minute treatment.  As, I type up this post, Gabriel is laying on his bed fast asleep, as though nothing has changed. I am hoping that this treatment keeps Gabriel comfortable longer and in less pain. Fingers crossed.

To help visualize this treatment, I took some pictures. They are a little dark, because we turn off the lights to help calm Gabriel.  And yes, Gabriel slept right though them. 🙂

Treatment Update

Gabe has graduated to having acupuncture every 14 days. We have been at this step for about 3 visits. It’s a step forward in his treatments. He goes about 12.5 to 14 days without any signs of ataxia or rear discomfort.  I’m hoping that maybe in 1 or 2 more visits we will push into adding a few more days.

Hopefully, soon I will get able upload the images from the x-rays and MRIs to help you better understand this complication.

Gabriel & Acupuncture

It has been about a month since we started Gabriel on acupuncture treatment

We showed up over a month ago to Dr. P’s office. We, being the whole family, DH, Abby, Gabe and myself. We made is new place a family affair.

The vet assistants came in and both pups did not like him. I remained positive about the location and doctor.

When Dr. P came in — the only bark we heard was from Abby. Of course, she is completely in a new world that tested every once of her being. Dr. P made a suggestion to open the side doors and place Abby out there with DH, close enough to see, but far enough away to be safe… within moments all was well again…

Gabriel stood right beside Dr. P and when she kneeled down. He gave her kisses. Dr. P pressed, poked, tested him without one attempt of biting, running away, or hiding behind  me. Shortly, after the exam and after reading the x-rays and MRI reports — Dr. P suggestion we start Gabriel on acupuncture.

I wasn’t ready for it, but by Gabriel body language I decided one testing could not be harmful. To my surprise, Gabriel stood perfectly still and allowed Dr.P to stick needles into his nerves without any disagreement.

After all 20 needles, were stuck into him and Dr. P left the room, Gabe and I hung out on the floor, Gabriel fell asleep while I sat there on the floor beside him in amazement.

My Gabriel found another doctor that he could trust…..the results of the acupuncture have truly been a surprise to me.

Gabriel …

So, this post is overdue….

DH & I went to the specialist last week. We did not hear anything good. Gabriel has a herniated disc at his L1 and L2, which we knew. For those that want to know the located of L1 and L2 it is within the last 5, 6, or 7 ribs from the backside of the dog. I can’t remember the rib number to the exact, I know its in the later half of a dog’s ribs. Anyhow…. the disc has slowly pressed on the spinal code. That means he disc has been pushing out-of-place for a bit, how long we don’t know. Just like in humans the aging of a disc or displacement of a disc is different for each subject.

The slow compression of the spinal cord has allowed Gabriel’s nervous system to adjust. This has allowed him to walk around, use the bathroom, basically do any function using his backside. Something a few months go caused the disc to push up or cause inflammation faster than normal which caused his ataxia. This something could have been Gabriel walking up the stairs, jumping up  into the van, jumping off the couch, jumping onto the bed… anything.. even something so easy as getting up from laying down.

The doctor will not do surgery because of how compressed Gabriel’s spinal cord is. Basically, Gabe’s spinal cord is pushed to its “breaking point”.  And the structure of the disc looks as though it is harder than a young herniated disc. FYI, a young herniated disc is more like a cheese powder substance, making it easier to remove during surgery.  An older herniated disc is more like harden cheese making the removal extremely risky.)  Because of this there is too high of a risk that Gabriel would be paralyzed for good. Since, Gabriel is improving both physically and mentally, the doctor wants us to slowly increase his activity level to find out Gabriel limits.

The Doctor will help us find other therapies as we increase Gabriel activity level. He did warn us as Gabriel ages things will most likely go south. And surgery will be the only option. He is hoping by then Gabriel will be in his double digits. Gabriel is 6 years old, right now.

So, we are taking things in stride. I am bummed and really don’t like any of this. Gabe wants to go running with me, since its our season to run. (the temperatures are cooler and he knows it). I hate having to leave him at home but I know it’s the best thing. He waits at  the window for me to return.

At times, I feel extremely guilty when I take Abby for a run without him. It just doesn’t feel right. She is a good runner, but running with Gabriel was so much different. He just wanted to be, like I want to run just to be, just to be away from it all, away from the world, my peace… he fit that running partner perfectly. Abigail is just different more maybe I am projecting it on to her.

So, back to Gabriel….  we have taken him off all the drugs and placed him on only herbal drugs when needed and if he really needs other drugs we can put him on them. We want to know from him what is okay and what is not. We don’t want him doing anything he normally wouldn’t do because he is all drugged up.

Well, I know I am no longer running with dogs at this time… but maybe it time…

Thanks for listening…

Gabriel’s Specialist Visit and MRI

Our family is going through a hard time. Our beloved Gabriel has been dealing with some spinal issues. We took him to North Carolina State for an MRI after a visit to the ER and a specialist. At NC State, Gabriel did such a wonderful job, that all the students and doctors wanted every patient to be like him and they wanted to keep him. Fortunately, I am a VERY VERY selfish person and wanted to get Gabriel back home with his family.

The results of the MRI have shown that Gabriel is suffering from two discs issues. One is on L1 and L2 of the spine and it is pressing on the spinal cord, which is causing his ataxia. The other are is compressed not causing as much of an issue…as of yet. Both are rather painful for him, but he is a champ and doing well.

We give him some Yucca & fossil mixture every day which are an herbal painkiller and bone builder. When needed we give him an anti-inflammatory for the muscles around his discs when his ataxia is bad.  Anyhow, we will be meeting with the specialist Dr. Marti when we arrive back to Virginia to discuss the next steps in Gabriel’s healing process and his road to recovery….

Surgery might be the best option, but we are hoping for a better solution… not because of price, but spinal surgery is risky just like in humans… Gabe could end up not being able to use his hind legs at all….

Vist to the ER Vet

Finally, I have enough time to write this out. Gabe was having some issues jumping up and off the bed and couch for about 2 weeks. DH and I noticed it and just thought ,  he is not puppy anymore. He is turning 6 y/o,  September 3rd. On Sunday, Gabriel complete miss jumped getting in to the van after visiting our friends at Pet Persona. Gabriel didn’t whelp or anything, but it definitely looked painful. Anyhow, DH and I noticed it and talked about it, but again… we didn’t know what to think.

Well, Wednesday night when I got home. Gabriel did not come greet me. In fact, he did not even raise his head to say hello. He did try to get up when I went to grab his leash to go outside. At that point, he was really struggling to stand up. Then I notice he was walking like he was drunk and his body shape was that of a greyhound (kind of like a curved-c), his tail was tucked and ears were flat.

When I got him outside he was stumbling everywhere, crossing his bind legs, dragging a leg every now and then. He tried to pee and I watched is back side sink, like he couldn’t support his legs. At that point, I put Abby back in her kennel and lifted my 80 lb dog from the house to the van to head to the doctor’s. DH informed me, that our usual vet was gone for the day and I had to take him to the emergency room.

I know most people may have not done it.. but I did… Ataxia, is nothing to screw with, the damage could be permit or it could get worse and lead to a human or animal being paralyzed.

He continued to have standing and walking problems the whole time. When we met the doctor, she actually came out to Gabe and I in the waiting room. She watched him from the moment she called his name all the way into the exam room. The only time, she looked up at me was when she asked if Gabe was aggressive. Most people would be offended but I am not… She is treating my dog, she needs to observe his behavior more than look at me.

She did a spinal exam and got to the 13th, 14th and 15th vertebrae Gabriel screamed and tried to nip her, immediately after that he was licking her as to say sorry, but that F*cking hurt!!! She had to narrow done the vertebrae by counting his ribs. She took him away for an x-ray. Oh, how I wanted to be back there, instead of people Gabe didn’t know handling him.

The x-rays showed a weakened (calcium build-up) and slightly moved disc. This is what is causing the ataxia (balancing, stumbling, drunkenness). Its what is placing the pressure on his spinal cord. The doctor put him on some anti-inflammatories and pain meds and referred us to a specialist.

Today after a few hours at work, Gabe is functioning a bit better. He has a bit more strength and balance, but we are definitely not out of the woods. The specialist looked at the x-rays and wants to see if the meds will work before stepping into the realm of Gabe going through surgery to remove the calcium and if needed the rubsured disc. The disc itself has shifted up but not to the point of massive concern. It normal for this type of thing.

If Gabe continues to stabilize (walk alone and straight, balance,etc) we might consider taking another x-ray to see what it looks like without being in his current state. (He wasn’t too happy to have to be moving last night)

He still has his appetite which is good. But you can tell he has a lot of discomfort at times. Oh, the X-ray did not show any tumors/cysts so that a positive, too. Our friends have directed us to a doctor that sits on the Veterinary Board for Virginia. I will probably call him tomorrow just to discuss things and possible bring Gabe in to give him the X-rays and see how Gabe is progressing. If we need the surgery avenue he would be a great resource for who could do the job the best.

Anyhow, that’s all I got right now… I am so tired. DH is on travel, so it is me lifting Gabriel around to help him get outside, to his food, to water. I quit sitting on the couch, because he wants to be around me, so we are hanging out on floor…. and by the way.. Abby is being a good sister. She is leaving him alone. She has asked him to play a few times, but since he is not interested.. she is leaving him be. It’s unique to watch.

I can’t believe this is happening to Gabriel.  My running partner, the dog that ran 16 miles, the dog never missed a moment to run in the water, chase a deer, chase a squirrel. He truly is my bestest friend. It is so hard to watch him go through with this,  and yet still remain a pack leader.  At least he is good and listens to me. He will wait until I get to him or come back from upstairs… ugh.. I hate this…

Anyhow, thanks for listening…(excuse the typos, I haven’t slept over 3 hours for the last two nights)

How we came to own Gabriel

This is actually starts off as a sad story.

We owned a female Siberian Husky, named Cheyenne. She was great with all types of people and animals.  We decided for her 2nd Christmas we would find her a brother or sister. My husband and I looked for months trying to find her a playmate, but nothing came about. Unfortunately, that was not completely true. My husband had a breeder of German Shepherd’s, white ones to be exact.  I knew about the breed through a family friend that bred the WWII bloodline and trained them for police and military work. I knew of their intelligence and spoke about “Dolly”, the prize female dog of my family’s friend.

Anyhow, back to the story.  We (even though I didn’t know) were supposed to head out to look at and decide about a dog December 3rd. Well…. December 2nd, we came home to find our Cheyenne sick, very sick. She did not get into anything, because we kept her in a kennel during the day. Cheyenne was bleeding out her mouth, nose and backside. We knew the emergency vet was 25 minutes away, but it was not enough time to transport. We spent her last moments with her as she lied on her bed with her favorite blank. She died that night with her family around her….without her Christmas gift.

I told my husband I was done. I was not dog hunting any longer that night.  He called and rescheduled the meeting with the GSD breeder for a later date, the 4th. I only found this out later.

 The forth came around my husband said he had to go pick up something for work and asked if I wanted to come along. The last thing I wanted was to sit at home alone. So, we piled into the car. He drove and drove then drove some more. Finally, he broke down and said where we were going. I wasn’t a fan of it, but I let it go.

We pulled up to the breeder’s house, shortly after. I told him, thanks for doing this, but I am not ready to handle another puppy. We went in. There were only two pups left. I stood in the kitchen not interested in either dog, but the male puppy was bumping my leg with his head while sitting there looking at me. After a few minutes, I gave in and knelt down to pet him. Only to have him run a few feet away, turn around, run back jumping into my chest. I caught him, I played sports growing up, so I have some skills. Then the breeder opened a bag of food, the male pup went straight for the bag and jumped in the bag head first. All I saw was the pups back legs in the air still running.  Moments later he returned to me, sitting there waiting, then began bumping into my leg.  I walked across the kitchen; he followed me, sat down waited then began bumping my leg again.

I gave in that night. I felt the male pup wanted to be around me, so I brought him home. Since, that night I welcomed into my life, a dog that listens to me, looks at me as a leader, provider and protector in return he will do anything needed to make sure I am safe.

I never thought out of a sad story, I would find something so true….