Tank Wotton

Friday December 20, 2013

There is nothing that stops you dead in your tracks like your pet in pain! This is Tank's tale.

On Dec. 17, 2012, Tank lost complete use of both rear back legs during the middle of the night. Tank was unable to walk on his own; I had to use a towel under his legs to assist him in moving. Up to this point, Tank was a very healthy 6-year-old SPCA-working Basset Hound Therapy Dog with no serious health issues.

On Dec. 18, 2012, Tank went to his standard vet for a complete check up and a battery of tests. His vet suggested Tank be evaluated by a neurologist within 24 hours. I called VOSM and made an appointment for the following day at 11:00 a.m.

On Dec. 19, 2012, Tank and I met with Dr. Ryan Gallagher, DVM and his neurological assistant Erin Blackwood. Both Dr. Ryan Gallagher and Erin spent over two hours with Tank and I explaining what was causing this immobilization and what needed to be completed. They answered all my questions and concerns with comprehensive and helpful answers. They gave me a detailed account on what was causing his leg deficit and what was to be expected after surgery and beyond.

Tank was diagnosed with a problem affecting his thoracolumbar spine. Within two hours of meeting with Dr. Gallagher, Tank was admitted and was in surgery. Tank had a myelogram to identify the extent of the injury which identified a intervertebral disc extrusion. Dr. Gallagher assured me I would have my same old dog back within several weeks!!

Tank was in surgery for over 2 hours. By the evening on Dec. 19, 2012 Tank was alert, comfortably and came through the surgery very well.

Dr. Gallagher called me after Tank was out of surgery and gave me a full diagnosis and what he was able to accomplish during the surgery. One of Tank's discs had, over time, degenerated and become crystallized and had begun to cut through nerves running in the spine thereby causing his rear legs to stop working. Dr. Gallagher removed a large amount of disc material and expected Tank to make a full recovery and be back to a completely normal dog within several weeks.

While Tank was at VOSM recovering he had several nurses tending to him round the clock and was back on all fours within 24 hours with the help of a medical sling. I was able to phone VOSM at any time and speak to his nurses and get comprehensive updates on his progress.

On Dec. 21, 2012, I was able to pick Tank up at 1:00 p.m. Both Dr. Gallagher and Erin met with me again for another 2 hours giving me a detailed report and instructions on Tank's future medical needs and medications during recovery.

Tank needed to be confined for 4-6 weeks within a baby gate and remain as still as possible. During Tank's recovery he also had several rehabilitation therapy sessions with Kathy Coffman. We were issued homework assignments post op and did all home exercises for several weeks during recovery. Tank hated his homework but we diligently did our PT exercises daily.

I am ecstatic to report that it is March 2013 and I do indeed have my old dog back!!!!!!

Tank has regained 100% mobility and full use of both his rear legs!!! His stitches are gone, his scar has healed, his hair has grown back and his old basset fun loving personality has fully returned. Tank is walking and running normally and back to chasing squirrels out of his yard!

He will return to his full working SPCA Therapy Dog duties in April 2013 after being on medical leave for only a few short months.

During all our visits over several weeks at VOSM we would always pull up to the parking lot and notice several different license plates from many other far away states. I now know why ... VOSM is truly the only place in the county were your pet can receive unparalleled neurological care.

Every nurse, every staff member, every specialist we encountered was exceptionally well-informed on Tank's condition and progress. Had I required this type of serious spinal surgery, I highly doubt I would have received such consummate medical care in a human hospital.

I am forever grateful and indebted to Dr. Gallagher, Erin Blackwood and all of Dr. Gallagher's extraordinary team!!!! I had my doubts that Tank would ever be the same dog let alone work again as a pet therapy dog. I truly believe we are all given special gifts and I am so thankful for Dr. Gallagher's medical gifts - he worked a miracle on Tank!!!!!!

- Karen Wotton