Sunday, February 12, 2012

Old Dog Vestibulitis

It has been a VERY rough week for poor Army dog (and coincidentally, for the rest of the family.) Yes, our sweet pup is getting up in years. He turned 13 this past Christmas. He does suffer from a bit of arthritis, but other than that, he’s been very healthy.
That all changed on Wednesday. He was in the back yard and I heard something knocking against the back of the house. I peeked out the window, expecting to see him playing on his back and kicking at the wall, and instead I saw him struggling to get some water from his bowl and then he just collapsed to the side. I ran outside to check on him and noticed that he hadn’t eaten his breakfast. When I called him over, he got up and tried to walk over to me and then collapsed again. After that, he refused to try to get up at all. His eyes were twitching back and forth and his head was titling to the side. My heart immediately caught in my throat and I spent the next hour trying to hold it together.
I tried all of my numbers for Brian (and even contemplated calling dispatch), but I couldn’t get through to him. I called the vet and arranged to have him seen. I called my neighbor to come and sit with the kids and help me get him into the van since he’s nearly 80 pounds and would not even pretend to try to walk for me. I felt like I was in the middle of a nightmare. The hardest part was deciding what to do about Ben. At this point, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t coming back from the vet with a dog, and I couldn’t bear the idea of just leaving with him and Ben not getting to say good-bye. I made the decision to take him out back and explain that Army was very sick, and I was taking him to the vet, but I didn’t know if the doctor would be able to make him better. I asked him if he wanted to sit with Army while I got things ready to go. It was heart breaking to see the two of them sitting there together. Ben was sobbing. It was awful. I decided to take some pictures of them and I’m so glad I did because these moments were so precious to me.

I finally got Army loaded up and the kids taken care of and I took off for the vet’s office. I tried Brian one more time and thankfully he answered and said he’d meet me there. Then I got on the phone with my mom….. and I LOST it. You know how people do that ugly cry. Well, there’s the ugly cry, and then about three or four levels of hysteria, and then there was me. I couldn’t even see to drive. I had no idea that losing a pet could affect me that way, but to say that I was a hot mess would be the understatement of the year.
The vet looked at Army and explained that it was most likely one of three things. He either has a brain tumor, was having a stroke, or had something called Old Dog Vestibulitis. The last condition was caused by inflammation of the inner ear. It comes on suddenly and causes EXTREME vertigo. The good news was that if it is vestibulitis, it is treatable. We decided to go ahead and treat him for that and pray that it was what was wrong with him.
He was still so pitiful when we got him home. Sweet puppy. The doctor said that his whole world felt like it was spinning. I felt so bad for him.
Gracie tried to cheer him up by bringing him a little puppy friend and sitting with him for a while. She was so pleased with herself. I know he appreciated her effort.
The doctor prescribed a steroid, an anti-nausea medication, and an antibiotic. He’s been on them for four days now and he is noticeably better. He still doesn’t have much of an appetite and he lays around A LOT, but he is walking on his own. He has a long way to go to be back to his old self, but we are just so thankful that he is still with us. We love you, Army Dog.


  1. I just had the same thing happen with my old dog too. It's absolutely terrifying. Now that's it's been a over a month is Army back to his old self? My baby is just on her fourth day or so with it. It hurts me to see her struggle so, but I am encouraged that it is not permanent

    1. I am so sorry. Our sweet boy never really bounced back and we ended up having him put to sleep at the end of March. :(