Shifting sands and disc

Just a few days before our return to Agua Caliente County Park earlier this month where we encountered 5-inch deep loose sand in our campsite due to a flash flood here in August, we noticed that our tricolor Corgi, Tasha, was coming up the back deck stairs slower than usual.  I first thought that maybe it was a pulled muscle, because she seemed better after I gave her aspirin (following cautions such a these).  But while walking our Corgis at Agua Caliente, we could see that Tasha could not keep up with Mac, so on the last day we made an appointment with our local veterinarian, Dr. Helen Green, DVM, and promptly brought her in to the Mission Valley Pet Clinic upon returning to San Diego.  Her wobbly rear legs suggested a back problem and she was started on Tramadol and Methocarbamol for the weekend and was to return for further tests.  Over the weekend she lost control of her bladder and was not using her rear legs to support her weight.

We read about intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) and knew we were about to face a very difficult decision when we brought Tasha back to the vet on Monday.  Dr. Green tested Tasha and found that she still had deep pain sensation in her rear legs and could benefit from surgery, but that window of opportunity was closing with every passing hour.* While we were in the exam room, Dr. Green called Dr. Robbin Levitski-Osgood,* Veterinary Neurologist and Neurosurgeon, at Veterinary Specialty Hospital, and conveyed to us the good news that there was a 95% chance of successful surgery if we acted now.  Even though we were originally leaning toward a conservative, medical approach, we were persuaded by the good prospects of our 6-year old Corgi walking again.  We immediately drove Tasha up to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital.

DSC_0157 Veterinary Specialty Hospital

“The Veterinary Specialty Hospital is a multi-specialty, state of the art, full service hospital.  We truly are the Mayo Clinic of veterinary medicine,”* says Dr. Steve Hill.  This 3-story hospital has 18 exam rooms, 6 operating rooms, specialty rooms, ICU, neurosurgery suite, radiography suites, a full service laboratory and much more, including a complete Oncology Center.

A caring and attentive staff quickly admitted Tasha.  Dr. Levitski examined Tahsa and ordered a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)* that demonstrated a T13-L1 disc herniation.  That same evening, a left T13-L1 hemilaminectomy* was performed with fenestrations from T12-T13 to L2-L3 to remove large amounts of herniated disc material.  Immediately after the surgery, Dr. Levitsky called and said that the surgery went well and called again in the morning with the good news that Tasha was moving her legs!  She continued to do well and was discharged home on Wednesday where her activities are restricted as she continues her healing process and recovery.

DSC_0171 Tasha Post-Op Day 3

To facilitate the healing process, the detailed Discharge Instructions specified that she should remain in a crate or small area for the first two weeks, except when she is carried outside for short toileting breaks.  Howdy Doody came by to cheer her while showing off his new makeover done by Larry.

DSC_0199 Howdy Doody visits Tasha

Larry made a corset-like sling to help support her back while on potty breaks.

DSC_0217 Tasha in homemade sling

DSC_0233 Homemade sling materials

Mini drip irrigation tubing was used as boning in the medial part of the towel sling and bamboo sticks were used in the ends of both slings (an old blood pressure cuff was later adapted as a backup sling).  Boning prevented gathering of the fabric, allowing for even weight distribution.  On Post-op Day 3, Tasha was able to briefly and independently bear weight on all four legs.

A makeshift gate made from parts of a metal crate ensures that our Corgis only use the side dog ramp versus stairs when going outside.

DSC_0208 Mac using ramp

DSC_0276 Post-op Day 12

Tasha is now walking and taking time to appreciate the garden.  We are thankful for the wonderful doctors and staff, who have helped her on her way to recovery!  We are happy that she is able to walk again because something in the way she moves, moves us.*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.


  1. says

    A wonderful posting, Bill, with detail and thorough explanation of Tasha’s problems. Very happy the operation was so successful. Hoping we’ll see you all in January!

  2. Insightout says

    A harrowing experience, and don’t you both feel totally helpless?

    Looking into your loyal Tasha’s eyes, the cascade is devastating; you want to do anything, everything, possible. The look you receive in return, unable to speak, is an emotional meltdown.

    This, sadly, is the curse of being a loving owner. We’re all praying here for a complete recovery….for Tasha, and for you guys.

  3. says

    Yes, yes, and yes… Thank you Insightout for your truly insightful and touching comments.

    As you know all too well, life is full of harrowing experiences and unanticipated challenges as seen everyday in the news, but when it involves a loved one… well, it really hits home and is indeed emotionally challenging.

    Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support… and thank you Dr. C., Lynn, and wonderful dog Jack for sharing your stories, such as, “….Heaven and Nature Sing“, in your blog, Insight out.

    Happy Holidays!

  4. Beverly says

    What a wonderful story with a great outcome. I kept thinking of that sweet pup with those soulful eyes going through this procedure. I am so happy for you all that she is doing so well! I didn’t know that hospital was up here–good to know! Happy holidays.

  5. says

    Thanks, Beverly, for your comments.

    Yes, we are very happy that Tasha is doing well and back to her lively, happy, assertive, and talkative self. She now uses the back deck ramp as she walks to the back yard for potty breaks.

    We are very thankful for the wonderful care given by the Veterinary Specialty Hospital that enabled Tasha to walk again:

    Veterinary Specialty Hospital Overview*

    Happy Holidays!