For the first time in years, I was off work for independence day. It’s the retail life, I know for sure I won’t have black friday off but every now and then I can finagle a peripheral holiday. I was ecstatic to spend the day in Orange County with great friends and pyrotechnics. Cut to midnight, Nigel jumps off the couch and manages to paralyze his back back right leg and partially paralyze his left leg. It’s my worst nightmare. My bouncy, bonkers miniature schnauzer can’t walk, is totally wigging out from the fire works and I’m an absolute mess. I immediately google “emergency vet” and stay up all night with Nigel trying to get him to calm down and bargaining with a distant god while hoping he’ll just shake it off. I immediately ran through every worst case scenario over and over- I knew I was never going to be one of those pet owners that keeps a dog alive and miserable because I can’t say goodbye. It was also at that moment that I realized just how much my dogs mean to me. This little white dog (and my little black dog) have been with me through every major event of my adult life- marriage, divorce, moves, my father’s death. At one point in the night, I just broke down and cried out of frustration.
The next morning I called out took Nigel into the emergency vet. The vet was so sweet and really seemed to care about him, but her initial gut instinct was surgery. However, since they didn’t find anything on his radiograph or x-rays, I was very hesitant to move forward in that direction. His injury came down to one of two things: a spinal disc injury or a. FCE (essentially a stroke). If it was an FCE his chances of a spontaneous recovery were fairly high, but if it was an FCE his pain level would have been much lower. After a suggestion from the vet and standard internet research, we decided to give physical therapy a go. Not only would he be in the hands of some of the best vets, Two Hands Four Paws had a great reputation for rehabilitating paralysis.
Nigel is such a strong and sweet dog, my boyfriend and I had no idea how much pain he was actually in. We assumed he was just down-in-the dumps, since he didn’t exhibit the typical “I’m a dog in pain” signs. however, there he was, hunched over peeing his pants- he was so miserable. For a good week and a half my life was very schnauzer-centric. Between my boyfriend and I, we couldn’t leave him home alone for any extended period of time because he was unable to go to the bathroom on his own or roll over. I don’t have children, but I assume this is close to what it feels like to care for a sick newborn. You just feel so helpless.
We started treating him pretty aggressively with physical therapy, just to get his pain under control and get him moving again. Once his pain was managed, we started to see amazing progress. Within a week and a half he was weaned off his medication. He’s now down to therapy once a week and although he looks drunk, he is walking around and happy. We are so happy to see him recovering so well after such a short period of time- even the vets and staff were amazed. Sometimes life just throws a curveball, but I’m beyond grateful that my little dude is feeling better and moving around. It’s a lot of work and dedication, but it’s all worth it.