Last year passed without any major vet visits for the Beanster, but she’s more than made up for that in 2013 and the year’s barely got started.
This latest saga began with us noticing that she was holding herself a little funny one evening, didn’t seem keen on doing a full body shake, and couldn’t get comfortable anywhere. The next morning she became frantic, sprinting round the house and throwing herself against walls. Needless to say an emergency appointment was made, and off we all went to the doggy doctor. As is tradition, Beanie temporarily forgot about her symptoms while in the waiting room and used the sacred Beagle biscuit dance to score some treats . Once in the examination room the symptoms returned however, and the vet homed in on Beanie’s back, locating what appeared to be a tender spot. She got a painkilling injection which quickly made her more comfortable, and over the next couple of days she seemed to be recovering, though her ability to shake never fully returned.
Then, with the 2013 vet bill still safely below £100, Beanie had a sudden relapse – in fact if anything she seemed worse than she had been before. We took her back to the vet and a tender spot was once again found on Beanie’s back, but further forward than last time. She was given a powerful pain killing injection and yet more pain killers were prescribed, along with enforced crate rest for the remainder of the day. If she was not significantly improved by the next morning we were to bring her back for an x-ray, to consider the possibility of crumbling discs (apparently a failing in Beagles, though not ncessarily UK Beagles) and arthritis. Frantic Googling ensued when we got home, and though neither disc problems nor arthritis fully matched Beanie’s symptoms we couldn’t help being very worried about her. To heighten our worries, Beanie’s pain killing injection also had a sedative effect. This wasn’t truly apparent until I gently carried her into the garden to attend to the call of nature and saw her staggering and wobbling as she tried to squat. The vet got an anxious phone call about that one, I can tell you!
The next morning, after scarcely any sleep, I got her out of her crate and chauffeured her to the bottom of the garden for her first toilet duties of the day. Being Beanie she naturally found fault with the spot I’d chosen for her, and insisted on wandering round and round until an appropriate location was found. By now she was trotting relatively normally and I began to entertain the hope that maybe we could avoid another visit to the vet. She responded by scenting a chunk of bread just under the fence in our neighbors garden. She lunged for it, stuck her head under the fence and grabbed the bread before I could stop her, and of course a few minutes after that she was once again in severe discomfort. Vet time, obviously, again!
This time we got the most experienced vet in the practice. The problem now seemed to center around her neck rather than further down here spine. We left her at the practice for a an hour or so for x-rays while we took poor Biggles for a walk. Although it was Beanie who’d had all the pain and discomfort, The Bigglet had also suffered these last few days – from lack of attention. Despite this, he’d behaved himself very well and hadn’t taken advantage of Beanie’s weakened state, though he had nicked a few things from the top of the console table in our hall. But nobody’s perfect, right?
The wait for the x-ray results seemed to stretch on forever, but finally we were called into the examination room to get the verdict. Being a superstitious Yorkshireman I couldn’t help but expect the worst. In my head, Sod’s law dictated that my little girl, at just five years old, must have the worst spine problem possible. I just wanted the vet to break the terrible news quickly, but she was keen to give us a step by step presentation of the x-rays. As each image passed by without any abnormalities, I became certain that the next would be the one to drop the bomb. It was like being in a classic Hollywood suspense flick. A series of potential scares would heighten the tension then abruptly dissolve away, softening us up for the final knockout blow. Luckily for us, that knockout blow never came. Beanie had a neck strain and some associated stiffness in some of her muscles, but there wasn’t anything seriously wrong. Apparently her spine was not made out of chalk after all.
In due course the Beanster was brought out us. I expected her to be frail and sleepy from being anesthetized, prodded and poked, but no. This was best we’d seen her in the last few days! Wagging, moving smoothly and intent on investigating everything in her reach. I picked her up before she could do any mischief, buried my nose in the fur on the top of her head, and breathed in her subtle houndy scent just like I did the very first time I held her as a pup. The relief from my brief dose of aromatherapy coupled with the better-than-hoped-for-diagnosis made it so much easier to part with the huge cost of all this medical attention.
“Beanie’s going to be OK? Take my credit card! Take it and do your worst!”
And they did. My wallet wasn’t the only thing feeling flattened after this little adventure though. Still reeling from lack of sleep and the rollercoaster we’d been on, we were good for nothing but sleep. Little Beanie has put us through the emotional wringer so many times now that we just refer to the process as being “Beanied”. Compared to his sister, Biggles has been the dream Beagle. His best effort so far was to swallow half a kilo of grapes, and that’s barely on the radar compared to all of Beanie’s misadventures.
A few days on from all the drama and Beanie’s improving steadily. All in all, life’s pretty good for her right now. She gets the cosiest beds made up on the sofa, regular massages from Susan, and a dose of tasty painkiller each morning with her breakfast. Of course it’s not all good; she has to refrain from activities that involve rapid or extreme neck movements, so retrieval and tugging games are out for a while (it would also be better if she didn’t keep lunging for fallen crisps and food wrappers while on local walks, but you can’t have everything). Also, the chauffeured toilet visits are over. When nature calls, she’s back to slumming it just like her brother.
Beanie on her sick bed
That mark on her nose is dried hot chocolate, gained when she lapped up the dregs from a cup
Beanie’s injury must be taken seriously at all times, but it’s open season on the frozen peas her Mum uses to ice a strain after returning from the gym!
Package therapy, Beagle style
As to what caused the injury, I guess we’ll never know for sure. A little while back she did suddenly take off on a sprint while on lead and was brought to a sudden and violent stop by her collar. That can’t have helped. Also, Beanie has never really been capable of doing anything at a moderate effort level. If she chases, it’s at full speed. If she’s going to retrieve her ball, she has to do it in the most over-the-top acrobatic style. On top of that we’ve been letting her daily exercise slip over the last six months or so, and as any physio will tell you, you can’t lead a sedentary lifestyle yet go hell-for-leather at the weekend without picking up some injuries along the way. With that in mind we’re going to make sure that as she heals, her body is once again fit enough and strong enough to handle her madcap ways.