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Nerving Neurology

His cries pierced the calm, quiet night.  What started as a whimper turned into a ceaseless moan that tore my heart into a million pieces.  I knew that our time together was rapidly growing shorter.
I knelt by his side and tried to comfort him. 

I covered his tiny body in the warmest blanket that I could find.  My hand gently stroked his long, tan fur.  The words I spoke were soft, calm and full of love.  My feeble attempts were failing miserably and we were losing time.

Throwing on the first outfit I could find, my husband and I loaded Theo into the car and raced to Hawthorne Animal Hospital.  Matt turned on the radio partially trying to provide background noise and partially to drown out Theo’s mournful cries.  My tears flowed like a river down my non-make-upped face.

We had called ahead, so the nurse was waiting for us by the emergency door when we arrived.  I tried to remain calm as I explained to the vet technician what had taken place.  Theo had been squinting his right eye for the past two days.  His veterinarian had examined him the day before and diagnosed him with glaucoma in his right eye. 

Theo wearing his Muffin’s Halo.

He had had glaucoma in the left eye before losing vision in that eye.  We had been giving him his prescription eye drops daily and were instructed to now administer the drops to both eyes. His crying spree began at 11:00 p.m. that night and would not stop.  Not even for his favorite treat:  Blue Buffalo Sizzlers.

The veterinarian determined that the glaucoma was causing the pressure in his right eye to shoot up to an incredible 80.  We were told that this pressure could be giving Theo a doggy migraine.  The hospital staff was great.  They began to administer the eye drops every five minutes in an attempt to lower the pressure quickly.  After 30 minutes, the pressure was down to 60.  Not great, but definitely better than 80. 

Theo was also given some numbing drops in order to reduce the pain and (hopefully) allow him to sleep before his ophthalmology appointment the next day.  We thanked the staff and headed home.  Theo cried the entire way.  Our car was almost home when I made Matt pull over in a nearby Target parking lot and call the hospital back asking what we should do.  We were told to give the injection and numbing drops more time to work.

At 3:30 a.m., we were heading back to Hawthorne.  My tears began anew and I was screaming at my husband to drive faster, desperately seeking a miracle.  Theo was then admitted to Hawthorne where he would be given an IV medication in an attempt to bring the pressure in his eye down further.  If this could not be done, the eye would have to be removed.

Theo is 14 years old.  That is 72 in human years.  I was beyond afraid of him having to be under anesthesia.  I was praying that the medications would work.

I received a call later that morning from the veterinarian.  She said that the pressure was back down to a normal level and Theo was doing great.  He had even inhaled his breakfast for the vet tech.  When we picked Theo up, I could tell something wasn’t right.  He kept trying to climb over my shoulders and leap out of my arms.  The staff assured me that he was healthy enough to be released.

Theo cried the entire way to the ophthalmologist.  Once the doctor appeared, his crying stopped.  My mom and I were amazed.  The doctor spoke softly and gently looked into Theo’s eye.  His diagnosis was devastating.

“The eye is not causing him any issues.  I believe this is something neurological.”
He told us to allow more time for the medications to leave Theo’s system before seeking any additional treatment.  Theo’s cries picked up again the minute we got in the car.  Mom tried to convince me that everything was going to be fine.  My gut continued to tell me that something still wasn’t right.

I made a call to my veterinarian’s office.  One of my favorite receptionists answered.  My heart sank when she told me that Theo’s vet was booked for the day.  She then asked what was going on.  After I explained all that Theo had been through, she spoke with the doc and got us squeezed in.

Since my mom had an appointment, my dad graciously drove us to the appointment.  The vet also agreed with the ophthalmologist’s assessment.  She was concerned that Theo was exhibiting an extreme head tilt.  He was also taking a while to respond to having his feet picked up one by one.  She suggested that we see a neurologist at Veterinary Specialty Services in St. Louis, MO.  The vet called ahead so that Theo could be seen on an emergent basis.

Dad did a fantastic job getting us to VSS.  I was surprised to see that the lobby was packed.  We were soon taken to a room and Theo was whisked away to ICU.  My only comfort was knowing that Theo had slept the entire way to VSS.  At least he appeared to be getting some relief.

The ER doctor returned and said that something neurological was definitely going on.  Her main concerns: cancer, a brain tumor or a stroke.  Theo would need to be admitted for several days and monitored closely.  We were told that they may need to do an MRI and spinal tap if his condition worsened. 

I left feeling completely numb.  I had literally spent 24 hours trying to get answers and was walking away with something worse: fear.  What if Theo had cancer?  If there was a tumor, could Theo handle surgery? 

We received daily calls with an update on Theo and his condition.  The doctor called the next day and said that Theo was eating great and had just gone out for a walk.  My hopes began to soar.  He was still walking!  We decided to visit him that day to see the miracle recovery for ourselves.  Bad idea.  The moment that Theo smelled us, he began to whine…like he had on Thursday night.  We ended our visit quickly and asked the vet tech if our presence was causing him distress.  She said that when a pet smells his/her humans and then realizes that they are not at home, they can become confused and upset.

I left feeling horrible.  My intention was not to cause Theo more stress.  I was very happy that we at least got to take him outside for a short walk and I got a few sweet kisses.

Monday I received a call stating that Theo was going to be released.  The doctor stated that they believe he had a “vascular accident,” a.k.a. stroke.  It had also been determined by the ophthalmologist that he was now blind in the right eye.  Thankfully, we already had been using a Muffin’s Halo when he lost vision in the left eye.

Theo was so happy to be home!  Matt and I made it a priority to learn all of the signs of a stroke in dogs.  Per Petmd.com, these signs include:
·         Inability to walk or walking with an uncoordinated gait
·         Head tilt
·         Abnormal eye movements, side to side or rotary (nystagmus)
·         Abnormal eye positioning (strabismus)
·         Loss of consciousness
·         Abnormal behavior
·         Falling to one side
·         Blindness
·         Abnormal behavior
·         Rapid onset of symptoms
September was a fabulous month.  Theo was nicely adjusting to being blind.  Just like Hope, he quickly learned where the water bowl was.  His walking was even improving.

Then, October came.  I had been eagerly awaiting the Picture Book Summit online writing conference.  The day-long event was to take place on October 7th.  I was an hour and a half into the conference when my husband and I noticed that Theo was walking in circles and had a slight head tilt.  He then took several steps and pooped out a large portion of blood.

As I ran to get paper towels, Matt called Theo’s new veterinarian.  She told us to bring Theo in ASAP.  He was not happy about having to leave the house.  And then he began crying again.
I had a feeling I knew what was in store.  Sure enough, the vet said that his blood pressure was 195.  She wanted us to get to VSS as quickly as possible.  My husband and I were thinking the same thing:  another stroke.

We arrived at VSS to find the lobby full to capacity.  One of the receptionists looked at me and said, “Are you from Davis Animal Hospital?”  I told her that we were.  She picked up one of the FRS’s and said, “Theo is here from Davis.”

Before I knew what was happening, a vet tech (with blood stains on his arms) came running out, grabbed Theo towel and all and raced back to neurology.  I felt sick to my stomach.  He hadn’t been acting that unusual.  Could something horrible be happening and we are totally clueless?

Thankfully, the same veterinarian that saw Theo the first time was also on duty that day.  She said that the pressure in his right eye was fine.  He did very well on the neurology examination, but she wanted to do some lab work and chest x-rays to see if he possibly had cancer in the chest or abdomen that could be causing swelling in the brain.  Theo was admitted once again.

We got the call later that night that Theo’s labs came back better than before.  The x-rays were also clear, no signs of cancer!  We were able to pick him up that Sunday with the caveat that we bring him back the following Thursday for a neurology appointment.

I counted down the days until his appointment.  I was bound and determined to get answers.  We had to know what was happening to our furry pack leader.  To our surprise, the lobby was completely empty.  We had come prepared with a large blanket for Theo and electronics for us.  And I remembered to pack my phone charger!

We had the sweetest woman who is completing her fellowship at VSS in the neurology department.  She said that Theo did great during his exam.  However, she was concerned that he may have cancer or a tumor.  Theo was to undergo an MRI and spinal tap immediately.  She also thought that he might have an infection of the inner ear, so she wanted to also perform a myringotomy.  This involves making a tiny incision into the eardrum to release the pressure caused from backed up fluid.  She would then send the fluid off for culture samples.

The procedures would take two hours.  Matt and I tried to be proactive by staying in the area and getting some much-needed shopping done.  Thankfully, there was a Petco right around the corner.  We headed back to VSS around 2:00 p.m.  My husband offered to go in and inquire about Theo’s status. 

Suddenly, my cell phone rang.  It was Matt telling me to come inside to room 9.  I raced into the building and saw the doctor sitting across from Matt.  “Don’t worry, we didn’t start without you,” she smiled.  She said that we had perfect timing because she was just getting ready to call us.
The veterinarian said that Theo did a great job and was still waking up from the anesthesia.  His MRI came back completely normal!  She said that there weren’t even any signs of a stroke!  And he didn’t even have to have the myringotomy.  The spinal tap labs would not be available
Theo was then diagnosed with Idiopathic Geriatric Vestibular Syndrome. Per VCA Animal Hospitals, “vestibular disease is a sudden, non-progressive disturbance of balance.”  This is also known as “old dog disease” and is typically seen in older dogs.

Theo’s shaved spot where the spinal tap was performed.

She explained that the Theo may have reoccurring episodes or he may never have another episode again.  His symptoms just need to be monitored.  I was so excited that I hugged her.  Theo was not dying!  My best friend was coming home with a clean bill of health.

His follow up appointment at the ophthalmologist revealed that he has chronic corneal calcification.  This means that the cornea of his right eye is calcifying.  We were assured that this process may cause discomfort, but not pain.  The eye ointment seems to be working wonderfully.  In two weeks, the cornea should be completely calcified and no longer be an issue.

My purpose in sharing Theo’s story is to help pet parents of aging or senior dogs.  Witnessing your fur baby walking in circles and stumbling around the house can be terrifying.  Especially when they begin crying out for no reason.  While we are sure that Theo’s eye played a key role in raising his blood pressure during both episodes, we are very happy to know that this condition will not cause him pain or stop him from living an amazing life.

We are so thankful to have Theo at home!
I love looking at his smile!

If you live in southern Illinois or around the St. Louis, MO area, I would highly recommend Veterinary Specialty Services for all of your emergent pet care needs.  The staff is compassionate and friendly and treats everyone like family.  To learn more about the services offered, please visit:  http://www.vssstl.com/.

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Find Your Fido in October

October is one of my favorite months.  I love the vibrant colors of the leaves as they change.  The smell of burning leaves and kettle corn always makes me smile.  Seeing pumpkins lying in the field brings a spark of excitement to my soul.

Now, I have another reason to love October.  It is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!  Adoption of shelter animals is a cause that is very close to my heart.  All of my furry children have been adopted from local animal rescue groups and shelters.  Adopting saves the lives of wonderful animals that may otherwise be euthanized for issues as foolish as lack of spacing or medical care.

Theuerkauf’s Tails is proud to be partnering with the ASPCA for their Find Your Fido campaign.  Fido is a cardboard cutout ambassador for shelter dogs.  He will be traveling on adventures throughout the country spreading the message that shelter dogs rock!

You can show your support for this awesome campaign in numerous ways.  The first is by sharing a photo of your favorite rescue pooch on your social media channels using the hashtag #FindYourFido and tagging @ASPCA.

Adoption saves lives!
Another way to show your Fido pride is by adding the special Find Your Fido filter to your Facebook and Twitter profile photo.  To download the filter, click the link:  http://ift.tt/2yzPCIp.
I am loving this awesome orange filter!

Fido is spreading the love in NYC!
We want to see your precious pooches!  If you adopted your dog (or dogs) from an animal shelter or rescue group, then you must enter our giveaway.  All you need to do is post a photo of your furry rescue pup in the comments section.  One winner will receive an ASPCA tote bag filled with amazing goodies.  The winner will be announced on October 31st.
Join the Find Your Fido movement today!  Together, we can find a home for every shelter dog.

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ASPCA Helps Hurricane Victims

Over the past several weeks, the states of Texas and Florida
have been pummeled by two of the worst hurricanes in United States
history:  Harvey and Irma.  Local, state and federal departments have
been working around the clock to assist residents who were trapped by the
hurricane’s surging waters.   Heartbreaking images continue to flood all
social media channels.

One photo that stands out in my mind is that of a dog who
that is stranded on top of the remains of a house.  The look on his face is one of terror and
fear.  My heart aches to think of all of
the animals who have been separated from their families or even worse, lost
their lives.  Thankfully, animal rescue
groups and organizations are stepping in to get these poor animals to safety.
The ASPCA is one such group.  Aside from having boots on the ground in Texas, they have also created an ASPCA Pet Safety app that provides critical disaster preparation information on what to do with pets before, during and after a disaster.  This wonderful resource provides specific checklists for each stage of a disaster.  The app is free to download and is available on most major iOS and Android platforms.

ASPCA volunteers brave the waters to rescue a stranded cat.

Another animal saved thanks to the ASPCA!

This pooch is all smiles after being rescued.

 A pet parent is reunited with her rescued fur baby!

September is also National Preparedness Month.  The ASPCA has teamed up with meteorologist
Ginger Zee to ask that pet owners all across the country prepare for their pets
in the event of a natural disaster.  You
can sign up to take the Prep Pledge by clicking the link:  ASPCA.org/PrepPledge.  As a special thank you for taking the pledge,
you will receive a free ASPCA sticker!  

Staying calm in the midst of a disaster is never easy.  Your fur babies are counting on you to make important decisions that are crucial to their well-being.  The ASPCA has numerous resources available to ensure that you and your precious pets are prepared.  Take the first step to preparedness by downloading the Pet Safety app and by signing the Prep Pledge today!

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Best Friends Animal Society National Conference 2017

The alarm clock blared. 
Through blurry eyes, I read the time: 
1:45 a.m.  It was time to begin
our 14 hour journey.

My husband and I were heading to New Jersey to attend the
Best Friends Animal Society National Conference.  I have always been passionate about animals
and their welfare.  To be able to spend
three whole days with others who share that passion is truly amazing.

With Polar Pops in hand, we hit the road!  The trip took us through the states of
Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 
I loved getting to see gorgeous mountains looming against the night sky
surrounded by stars.

I must admit that we were a bit overwhelmed when we reached
Atlantic City.  We were not used to all
of the lights, extremely tall buildings and valets on every corner.  Stepping into the Harrah’s hotel and casino
was like walking onto a movie set.  Plush
carpet gave way to luxurious marble floors. 
Lights flashed continuously in the casino as music and game sound
effects blasted forth.

A bellhop followed us to our room pushing our luggage on a
golden cart.  The elevators required a
room key card for activation.  The view
from our room was breathtaking. 
Skyscrapers gave way to the Jersey shore.  Seagulls lazily circled the rooftop below.

Our view of New Jersey!

After settling in, we decided to take a tour of the place
that was to be our home for the next three nights.  We discovered numerous dining options, an incredible
indoor pool complete with a DJ and multiple specialty shops, including a
jewelry store!  There was also a cooking
school, Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and a fitness center.  Talk about paradise!

The conference started bright and early at 7:30 a.m.  Did I mention that the New Jersey time zone
is an hour ahead of our usual time? 
Caffeine was a must!  After we
nibbled on fresh fruit and bagels, we went to the opening session.

So excited for the first day!

Gregory Castle, the founder of Best Friends Animal Society,
gave a truly empowering presentation.  He
is leading the movement to make all animal shelters across the United States
no-kill by 2025.  Several states have
already put this policy into practice.  I
am going to do everything that I can to make my home state of Illinois part of
the no-kill solution.

I am proud to have signed the 2025 piece!

My husband and I made constant use of the conference app.  We could mark which sessions we wanted to
attend, receive notifications, and share photos using the hashtag #BFNC.  The app also contained detailed maps so that
we could easily find our way to the next event.

We attended four sessions on our first day.  Even though we were tired, we headed to the
Exhibitor Hall to do some shopping.  I
was beyond excited to see a BOBS by Sketchers booth!  Not only were they sponsoring the conference,
but they also brought adorable dog and cat themed shoes to sell!  The best part?  Conference attendees received a 20%
discount!  I bought three pairs.

BOBS was also hosting a scavenger hunt.  Cut outs of BOBS shoes were hidden all around
the conference area.  If you found a
shoe, you earned an entry into a drawing to win several prize packages.  I was lucky enough to find a shoe on the
first day of the conference!  We had just
finished reading the placard about the 2025 piece.  I turned around to say something to Matt and
there was the shoe hiding behind the placard!

I found a shoe!

I also loved getting to speak with representatives from
animal rescue groups and shelters across the country.  Some of my favorites included: Alley Cat
Allies, My Pit Bull Is Family, and Wayside Waifs. 
I picked up some awesome swag to proudly show my support for these
amazing groups.

I am seriously loving all of my new shirts!

Aside from shopping, I gained a great deal of knowledge.  I learned about the Million Cat Challenge.
Per their website, “
The Million Cat Challenge is a
shelter-based campaign to save the lives of one million cats in North America
over the next five years. 

The core strategy of the campaign will focus on five key
initiatives that offer every shelter, in every community, practical choices to
reduce euthanasia and increase live outcomes for shelter cats.”  (http://ift.tt/157Oo4j)

Hanging out with Frank the Feral at the Alley Cat Allies booth.

Maddie’s Fund, a sponsor of the conference, dropped some
major knowledge.  They have created a
free app that allows shelters and rescue groups to track all of the animals
that they have taken in and adopted out. 
The database keeps a detailed log of each animal from the date of intake
through adoption.  The shelters/rescue
groups receive updates in real time including medical alerts.  I cannot believe that such a valuable app is
free!  #ThanksMaddie

Maddie was so sweet!  I even got a hug!

Maddie’s Fund was also handing out tokens to all conference
attendees.  You could earn additional
tokens by stopping by their different booths and learning about their numerous
animal welfare projects.  The tokens then
earned you a spin on the Maddie Wheel, where you could win awesome prizes.  Some attendees walked away with $1,000 grants
for their shelter/rescue group!  My
husband and I both won luggage tags.  (www.maddiesfund.org)

One of my favorite conference moments was getting to meet
Aladdin.  This adorable Pitbull had been
found severely emaciated, his back legs and tail were broken and he was missing
12 teeth!  Aladdin has since recovered
and is now a therapy dog, spreading joy and smiles to everyone he meets.  This amazing pooch is now in the running for
a Hero Dog Award.  We were lucky enough
to see Aladdin meet Maddie from Maddie’s Fund. 
My husband recorded the adorable event.

Aladdin relaxes at the conference on his favorite bed.

Matt and I left our mark on the Petco Foundation map!

Wayside Waifs has created their own anti-bullying curriculum that features real dogs!

The second day of the conference was just as busy.  My favorite session was Working with Shy and
Fearful Dogs.  This session ended up
being standing room only!  The speaker was
amazing!  The tips and tricks that she
provided were truly helpful and the training videos were so touching.  Seeing dogs that were once shy and fearful
blossom into happy pooches was an emotional experience.

I am very glad that I brought my husband with me.  There were so many sessions that I wanted to
attend, so we did a bit of tag teaming. 
He ended up leaving one of the sessions early to assure that we would
get our copy of Catify to Satisfy signed by Jackson Galaxy.  I am glad that he did.  By the time my session ended, the line was
out the door!

My husband, Matt, and Jackson Galaxy!

My favorite session was presented by the Cat Daddy
himself!  He was so dynamic and passionate.  I loved how he totally immersed himself in
the topic and completely lost track of time. 
When the Best Friends volunteers held up the 10 minute warning sign, he
said, “Is that all the time I have?  For
the whole presentation?  SH*T!”

He would have talked to our group the whole day if he could
have.  I loved watching the video for his
new Cat Pawsitive shelter program.  This
is a system of training techniques and care to make cats more adoptable.  The program teaches cats how to high five,
jump through hoops and more.  The video
was so emotional that Jackson was even crying! 
Seeing him whip out a blue handkerchief and dab his eyes made my heart

I was so inspired by the conference that I became a Guardian
Angel Member of the Best Friends Animal Society!  My monthly donations will go toward saving
animals across the country.  The Best
Friends staff and volunteers were absolutely amazing!  Their passion for animals and their welfare
was evident in everything that they did. 
Some volunteers danced as they held signs that guided the attendees toward
key locations. They were always available to answer any questions that we might
have had and did so with a smile on their face.

I am so proud to be a Guardian Angel Member of the Best Friends Animal Society!

  The closing session
was beyond motivating.  Legend Gloria
Gaynor surprised the audience by singing her epic hit “I Will Survive.”  We then listened to an impassioned
presentation about how we can all make a difference in the no-kill

I left the conference feeling
more inspired and motivated than I have ever been before.  My commitment to be a voice for the animals
has been renewed.  I am going to work
tirelessly to ensure that the United States of America becomes a no-kill nation
by 2025! 

Join me in this powerful
movement and together, we can Save Them All! 
Take the pledge by clicking here: 

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