Edgar The Little Brown Dog
On March 15th of this year, I received a message from the Animal Shelter Coordinator in Mineral Wells. That day, a dog had come in to the shelter who could not use his back legs. She sent a video of a 4-month-old puppy whose back legs were like noodles. They would stand him up and lock his knees, but as soon as he moved his front legs, the back ones would collapse again. He didn’t appear to be in any pain. He was a happy little brown dog who didn’t seem aware of his predicament.
The veterinarian who consults them recommended he be euthanized. For that reason, the shelter only gave him 24 hours to be rescued. His odds were not good.
We scrambled to find a foster with little hope of finding a solution on such short notice. My husband and I sat on the couch watching the video and biting our nails. What can we do? We can’t let him die in the shelter! At midnight, just as I was drifting off to sleep, he nudged me and said he’d heard my phone message alert. Emily, the lead vet tech at Mazie’s, had found someone. We were going to save the little brown dog.
He arrived at the Mazie’s clinic the next day, and Dr. Shults did a thorough examination. They called him Trucker at the shelter, but we renamed him Edgar. She stood him up on the table and did some basic neurological tests. His back end didn’t seem to have feeling, but his knees popped up when she tested his reflexes. Ok, that’s a small positive sign. She stood him up and bent each back paw underneath itself. Normally when you do this to a dog, he will immediately right it, and then give you a funny look like, “what gives?”. Edgar made no move to fix it. So that wasn’t good. His conscious proprioception was absent, which for us non-veterinarians, means that the pathway from his brain to his feet was interrupted. He also had no control over urine or fecal elimination.
Dr. Shults took a series of radiographs, which turned up nothing. He didn’t appear to have any physical injuries. No scrapes, no swelling, no broken bones, so why can’t he walk? We were stumped. She decided to give him some antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory pain medication. There was a possibility he had been hit by something, but because he was a puppy and his bones were still somewhat flexible nothing had broken. It could just be swelling and the medication would make it go down. Little brown dog went home with his foster, and I left the clinic confident that he would walk again.
After a week or so, Edgar’s foster reported that although he seemed to be in a better mood from the medication, he hadn’t improved. She kept him in a little box lined with pads and would sit on her patio and drink coffee and talk to him. During this time she also noticed that he would have minor facial twitches. The decision was made to send him to a neurology specialist.
Emily picked him up and took him for an examination. I would love to tell you that the neurologist figured out his problem and fixed it, but she did not have a solution either. Maybe Edgar had a viral infection like distemper that had lingering neurological effects? She recommended a spinal tap to see if there was some type of pathogen causing the damage. Spinal taps are risky procedures, but there weren’t really other options at that point.
Edgar would have good days, and then not so good days. Sometimes it would seem like he really wanted that back end to work, and some days he would be more twitchy and seem to have trouble with his front end as well.
An appointment was made and the spinal tap was performed. I would love to tell you that a treatable pathogen was discovered and a plan was made. But it came back completely normal. There seemed to be no infectious or inflammatory reason for his condition. We also consulted with a physical therapist/acupuncturist, but since he couldn't use his back end at all, they were not viable options. So the little brown dog went home with his foster while everyone scratched their heads.
The next week, Edgar's foster called to say that his condition was markedly worse. He now was having trouble with his front legs, and was basically using his little nose to try and move around. Dr. Shults decided to do one more set of radiographs; a more comprehensive one this time, to try and find some explanation. Finally, the answer was revealed. He had a small, very old fracture at the base of his skull. She had our surgeon look to see if anything could be done, but the fracture was too old to be fixed. The surgeon said even if we had found it on day one, it still would have been too old for her to do anything with.
At Mazie’s Mission, we rescue dogs that would otherwise have no chance. We do not base our decisions on finances. We base them on what is best for each animal in our care. In doing so, we understand that we are signing up to face disappointment. Edgar’s condition was not going to improve, and in fact, was getting worse. Although we could not give Edgar the happy ending he deserved, we gave him the most dignified and loving ending we could. His foster is a candidate for sainthood. She cared every single day for a dog that could not control his bladder or bowels, and she was prepared to continue for as long as it took to find a solution. He would sit and yodel for her, and was frustrated that he couldn't play with her other dogs.
We want you to know he was loved. We want you to know he spent his last days more spoiled than any little brown dog that ever lived. He did not die in a shelter. He was given every chance we could possibly give him. Dr. Shults and Emily went to the foster’s home and peacefully released him from his suffering.
While we are sorely disappointed that we could not save Edgar, we will continue to help as many dogs as we can. We spent much more on Edgar’s treatment and testing than we received in donations. If you would like to donate in his honor, so that we can continue to take chances on dogs just like him, we would be grateful. For more information on our clinic, our rescue, our community outreach programs, or to make a donation, please visit www.maziesmission.org
Thank you for reading,
—The Mazie’s Mission Family