Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Beast

Today I had planned to take Chance to the vet as part of my day off; however, Spenser has been panting excessively lately, and for the last few years he does this gagging thing where he makes hacking sounds and tries to lick every piece of furniture we own. We send him outside where he chomps nonstop on grass. Later, he upchucks and the episode is over until the next one.

So, I took Spenser in to Dr. Fred instead of Chance.

Spenser is a beast. He is very difficult for me to control physically and he becomes so excited when he knows he's going for a car ride that I can hardly focus on driving because he's all up in my face and plastering the car and me with drool like he's Beethoven or something. It's really gross.

Last year I bought one of those pet barriers for the SUV and had never set it up. Last night I was so proud, I got it all put together by myself. It felt very sturdy and firmly in place. Except for the fact that my car looked like a paddy wagon, I was thinking 'hey, this is gonna be a breeze'. NOT! I got about a mile away from the house and Spenser had pushed down the second bar with his big head wedged through, determined to get up front near me. I pulled over on the side of the road, put it back in place and dared him to pull that stunt again. I felt bad though, because he was really stressed out, but so was I. And I had the more important job of getting us to our destination safely.

We arrived at the vet's office and by the time I parked the car, he had pulled the whole contraption completely down. So much for being sturdy and firmly in place. He nearly jumped out the back window which caused me to start yelling. Not the calm submissive state I had hoped to achieve with my trusty pet barrier.

We had to wait almost an hour to see Dr. Fred. Thank God for that thick leather leash I decided to bring. I worked a lot of muscles in my arm keeping him close to me. Spenser finally settled down and things were going pretty well. He barked at a Shih Tzu and a Pit Bull that came in, but other than that, he was well behaved. Dr. Fred's patients are very friendly. Everyone was asking if Spenser was a puppy. I laughed as I told them he's almost 9 years old. No one could believe it. He really doesn't look 9 and he does indeed act like a spastic puppy.

Besides the fact the he now weighs 104.2 pounds and had a temperature of 103.6, turns out he has a condition called Laryngeal Paralysis. Laryngeal paralysis is a disorder in which the nerves that control the muscles and cartilage that open and close the larynx (voicebox) do not function properly, causing voice changes and difficulty with eating or breathing. The larynx is located in the back of the throat. Air moves from the mouth or nose through the larynx, and into the trachea (windpipe). Normally, the laryngeal cartilages (also known as the arytenoid cartilages) are pulled open during breathing. In laryngeal paralysis, these cartilages do not open and close properly, making it difficult for the animal to take in air normally. It is a disorder in which the nerves that control the muscles and cartilage that open and close the larynx. Finally, after almost 3 years, a diagnosis that makes sense.

Spenser's throat is three times the width it should be because of the swelling. Dr. Fred gave him a shot to help with the swelling and prescribed Prednisone. Dr. Fred said he likes to take a conservative approach first before doing surgery. We also have to elevate Spenser's food and water high enough so that he doesn't have to bend over.

Everyone knows Spenser is a challenge for me in every way, but I don't want to see him suffer. I'll do my best to make him comfortable and we'll go from there.


Mickey said...

Awwwww. Poor Spense! Give him a hug from his aunt Mickey.

Louisiana Belle said...

Thanks, Aunt Mickey! Will do.

Autumn said...

Aww, I feel bad for the big lug. He doesn't mean to be so annoying! I just hope he's not in any pain. Is the condition reversible without surgery?

Louisiana Belle said...

Autumn, I know - poor thing is oblivious to his annoying ways. The paralysis is not reversible, but can be managed with steroids. Surgery would be an option if the oral meds don't work. At 9 years old, though, I don't think I would choose surgery. :(