My Jimbo has not been dealt the easiest of lives. As a young pup at the racing kennel, he was bitten by a brown recluse spider. Thanfully he was treated, and just has a nasty scar on his back to remind him.
After racing, Jimbo entered the adoption program and was adopted into a home he loved. After nearly a year there, he began to have seizures. After a few months, his family decided they 'couldn't' handle this, and returned him to the adoption group.
My adoption rep called me and asked if I could please foster a big white and brindle boy with epilepsy, as she had nowhere to put him and it was hard for her with 14 other dogs. I agreed. Upon looking into Jimbo's eyes for the first time, I turned to my husband who nodded knowingly. Jimbo could be had by no other - he was to be mine. And we adopted him that day.
Jimbo proved to be the quirkiest dog I've ever known. An expert counter-surfer, he was often into mischief. He even learned how to open the breadbox He would bark incessantly if he wanted to play. And you WOULD listen. If not, you could count on him grabbing the very largest thing he could (usually a couch cushion or quilt) and shaking the very life out of it. Then he would run back and DEMAND your attention.You would pet him and play with him until his little heart was content. Regardless if American Idol was on.
I had never had a dog with epilepsy before. Never had one with any health problems, actually. I was not prepared for what I witnessed, but I forced myself to learn all I could. Through research, countless vet visits (and several vets), bloodtests, medications, supplements, a special diet and many many tears we got a handle on the monster that they call epilepsy. We got it under control to about a seizure a month, and even went 4 whole months one time! We thought we had conquered the enemy.
We knew Jimbo had arthritis, and the vet said that the meds he took compounded this, causing his hind end to be weak. So we just dealt with his shakiness that occurred some days, and gave him supplements to help him.
Last week I was awakened by the most horrific howling I have ever heard. I raced to the living room to see Jimbo in his crate in obvious distress. He was panting heavily, eyes wild. Upon closer inspection, I saw that Jimbo could not move his hind legs. At all.
He was paralyzed.
It was 2 am. To calm him I gave him some Valium so he would sleep until morning. He slept.
I did not.
I called the vet and we went in for a visit. My first shock came when I learned that Jimbo was down to 66 pounds. His ideal weight is 71. And just 6 months before this, he was overweight at 80. How could I not see this? Doc told me not to worry, this was a part of getting older.
Older? At age 6?
Next, doc performed an exam where she pinched his tail, starting at the end, to see if he recognized pain. Jimbo did not respond until she got to about 3 inches from the base of his tail. 3/4 of his tail felt nothing at all.
She then took his back legs, one by one and turned them so that his feet were 'upside down'. He could not turn them back the right way.
The vet and I locked eyes, and I began to cry. Something was terribly wrong with my boy.
Jimbo has what they call lumbosacral stenosis, also known as cauda equina. In this disease, the nerves become compressed, and the dog gradually loses feeling in his hind end. It almost always ends in paralysis.
In healthier dogs, there is the option of surgery when paralysis occurs. However, with Jimbo's myriad of problems (namely the epilepsy) he is not a candidate for this surgery. There is also an injnection called depo-medrol, a steroid injected into the spine. However, this comes with a host of risks as well, and the more they are used the less effective they are. That leaves us to first cut back his seizure meds which are acting against his hind end right now, and to increase his Glucosamine and MSM. Then we will start on a course of Rimadyl.
All of this is just to buy Jimbo some time, and hopefully make him comfortable.
At age 6, the most I can do for my boy is buy him 'some time'.
One day we will wake up, and Jimbo will not be able to walk. And I will have to work against my feelings and send him across the rainbow bridge with my heartstrings firmly attached. I can do nothing but watch him disintegrate before my eyes.
I am angry right now. Angry for Jimbo and angry for myself. It seems so unfair that after all he has been through...after just having him bless my life for 16 months...I have to prepare for him to leave me. Why, God? What did he do to you? Why must he suffer so?
Jimbo has already become rather lethargic...only rising when necessary and with difficulty. But as long as the good days outnumber the bad...I will not give up.
But with God as my witness, I will not let him suffer.
I cannot express the gratitude I have for Jimbo for all he has given me. I have spent money and time, and cried many tears...but what he has blessed my life with is immeasurable in comparison. I vow that there will always be a special needs dog under my roof. That is all that I can do to thank him. I hope that this story inspires even one person to consider allowing a special dog to caress their heart. You will not regret it.
If it is not too much to ask, prayers that Jimbo may spend some more time in comfort here on earth with his family would be greytly appreciated. Please take a moment and view some of my very favorite pictures of him, by big goofy boy.