Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Don't let the title deceive you: I'm not nervous, although the toddler behavior around here lately has been getting on my nerves.  This post is actually about the dogs, namely Buster, and his nerves.

A couple weeks ago, Lady re-aggravated an old soft tissue injury in her shoulder, and I think it's to the point where she's getting arthritic.  Buster was not very understanding of the pain she was in, and insisted on playing with her like he normally does.  Since Lady was put on confinement to rest and heal, she's been doing a lot of licking and cleaning of Buster, particularly the gross-sounding deep cleaning of his ear canals.  The pattern continued last week, and it was starting to make Buster itchy.

Last Thursday, during one of his "scratch fests,"  Buster was having a grand time itching his ears when he suddenly yelped in pain.  I didn't think too much of it, figuring he scratched too much and developed a raw spot.  I didn't think much of it, and we went to bed as normal, figuring whatever it was would be better in the morning after some rest.

Friday rolled around, and Buster kept acting stranger and stranger as the day went on.  He acted like he wanted to scratch, but couldn't.  He was sitting in odd positions, and wasn't even begging for food from Judith (a rarity, as he usually stakes out the best spot under the high chair to catch as much of the thrown food as he can).  He kept sitting and twisting himself into a crescent shape, resting his head on the back of the couch.  Any time I tried to pet him and got too close to the base of his right ear, he would let out a loud yelp and would shake from the pain.  I noticed his breath smelled really bad as well, and thought that maybe he had a toothache or was getting ready to lose another tooth (back story: one or both of the dogs, but I suspect it's only Buster, lost 2 teeth over the last year).  Buster started acting stranger and stranger while I was doing Judith's vest therapy, and barely went to the door to greet John when he came home from work.  Dinner was offered, and he refused to eat until I hand fed him some mashed potatoes and veggies.  Once we went to bed, he was so restless, kept yelping in pain, and kept us up most of the night.

With no improvement overnight, I called the vet Saturday morning.  We were able to get him an appointment quickly, and I was bracing myself for a big vet bill and a possible overnight stay for either surgery to extract a tooth or teeth or something else.  I also knew I had to separate Buster and Lady for the first time since we officially adopted them.  The short car ride to the vet was not fun: Buster sat on the seat and violently shook from nervousness and fear that I would take him somewhere and leave him.  I kept reassuring him that he would come home, that he wasn't leaving us and we weren't abandoning him, etc.  Once he realized we were going to the vet and he saw where we were, he was fine and actually enjoyed some of the individualized attention.  Anyway, I described the symptoms to the vet, and he diagnosed Buster with a pinched nerve.  I was relieved that it wasn't anything super serious, but was also kind of bummed that it's not something that can easily be fixed and would go away after antibiotics or another quick treatment.

The vet showed us how to make an improvised cervical collar.  Obviously they don't make these for dogs, so we basically take a long towel, fold it to fit Buster's shape, and tape it up to help immobilize his neck.  It definitely helps, and we've seen improvement, but needless to say Buster is less than thrilled with it.  He needs to wear it for at least a week, and then we can put it on him as needed since the issue will probably flare up every now and then.

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