Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scary Stroll with Sadie


As mentioned in my last post, I have been taking Sadie along on Sam's longer, brisker strolls. (Sam is an energetic 17 year old dog I am looking after for some friends). We worked up to it gradually, and for the past three days Sadie has been doing the approximately 1 mile loop morning and night with no problems. She slows down toward the end, but so does Sam.

Today, however, we had a scary event. Sam, Sadie and I headed up the hill through the town at a fairly brisk (for me - moderate for a more fit person) pace, then travelled about four blocks on level ground before heading back down to the ocean. While on level ground, I noticed Sadie stumbling a bit, but didn't think too much of it as it is not the first time I've had old dogs who trip over their own back feet.

However, after going about a block downhill, it was clear there was something seriously wrong. She started staggering as if she was drunk, and her back legs were getting tangled up and her rear would buckle under her. We stopped to rest, then she stood up and we continued. I slowed the pace considerably and suddenly she staggered again and had a complete collapse, simply falling over on her side and lying there, conscious but unblinking and unresponsive.

Of course, I didn't have my cell phone with me. And the skies chose that moment to dump a sudden heavy shower upon us. And there wasn't a soul in sight. I sat on the sidewalk, Sam's leash wrapped tightly around one arm, and cradled my twelve year old Sadie on my lap. She lay there a bit, then as I stood up to look at the homes within shouting distance, she got up and continued to walk. She had a few more staggering episodes and her back end collapsed a few more times, but after a moment's rest she would continue.

We reached a bench at the top of the path to the beach, and I sat there with the two dogs for about twenty minutes. Then we very slowly meandered down the path, along the beach, and back home, stopping frequently for rests for Sadie, though she showed no more signs of problems and even managed to snag a crabshell for a little snack along the way.

She has been fine since we got home, though tired as she always is after a walk. She ate a normal dinner, she barked loudly at someone daring to walk down our street, and she jumped up on the couch with no hesitation.

My first thought was her heart, though she has been to the vet recently and has always had a sound heart. My second thought was the very large lipoma on her chest might be pushing on her lungs and/or interfering with her blood flow - but all three vets she has seen in the three years she's lived with me have counselled against removing it and felt it wouldn't cause problems. My third thought was a neurological issue triggered by a tumor - you may recall she has had a weird problem going on with one eye (though it has been a lot better lately), and she has also recently gone deaf, very suddenly. It could be any of those things.

And then I remembered a blog I had read about another dog that did this, and I went searching, and now I wonder if Sadie has EIC - Exercise Induced Collapse - which is a fairly common genetic disorder found in border collies. Some things don't fit: it isn't warm out today (EIC is more likely to occur in hot weather); she used to have long runs/walks without exhibiting it (though perhaps not as fast as today's walk, as Charley has always been a much slower walking companion for Sadie than Sam is); and she wasn't panting at all.

But when I watched some videos on youtube of dogs with EIC, it was very much like what I saw. EIC is also likely to occur about five minutes AFTER the exercise (Sadie's collapse was about five minutes after our uphill hike). And, after an episode, dogs are back to normal in 5-30 minutes, which Sadie was.

Here's a couple of links to videos/articles on Exercise Induced Collapse:

Youtube video on dog experiencing EIC

Article by University of Minnesota

Sadie has recently been to the vet for a full checkup, including blood tests, but I will likely take her back again next week - or sooner if any more episodes occur. Meanwhile, she is on house arrest, and will go back to short, painfully slow walks with Charley. Sam and I shall do our longer treks unaccompanied.

This weekend is the SPCA garage sale, for which I am on the coordinating team. It was while I was working that sale last year that my Oliver was taken ill due to a misadventure with a petsitter, and passed away two days later. You can be sure my friends checking in on my dogs this year will have strict instructions not to walk the dogs. I don't want history repeating itself.

Stay well, Sadie. I'm not ready to say goodbye to you yet.

Sadie and Charley


georgia little pea said...

Oh Jean,

How every terrifying :( I know exactly how you feel because that happened to Rufus a few times on his walks. The 1st time, it was almost exactly what happened to you - it was raining and I didn;t have my mob with me. I just sat on the sidewalk and tried to get him to move and wept and waited until someone came along and lent me his phone. I NEVER forgot to take my mob with me after that.

The other symptoms were the same too. Once he actually got up, he'd be fine and would be able to walk home. *sigh*

The Other Half met a lady [at the time] who told him her [also old] dog was having the same problem and it had something to do with the ear canal [balance]. He can't remember the name of the problem unfortunately.

Take care and hugs to all the critters xox

Jen said...

Poor Sadie! Scary indeed!!! I suspect it is EIC, which I thank my lucky stars Sophie doesn't have. It's common in Labs too and I figure she has enough other problems. In any case, I hope it doesn't happen again and you figure out what exactly caused the episode so you can have some peace of mind too. Hang in there, and here's hoping it's very manageable and won't take your girl away from you any sooner than she needs to go!

Jen and the Black Dog Crew

EvenSong said...

What a scary episode!
It does sound a little like our Chewy, and her congestive heart failure, but you've been so diligent with Sadie's vet check-ups that that doesn't seem as likely. Good luck with her (and with the yard sale).

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Very scary, Jean. I hope Sadie will be fine, and maybe she just isn't up for any long/aerobic walks anymore? There comes a time...

Am hoping all goes well with your huge SPCA sale, and thank you Jean for all your volunteer work for this organization.

And RIP Oliver, little gentleman, we all miss you still.


Funder said...

Very very scary! No suggestions, just a hug.

Anonymous said...

Jean when you first were describing this I immediately thought of vestibular when the inner ear has sort of an infection and that is very common with older dogs.however I have had 3 dogs that have been struck with this and they were unable to get up and walk normally after the first episode..altho what you described happened to sadie at first was bang on...if it is this it is nothing to be fearful of...eventually they come around...but as you say this could be something more serious...hoping that it is nothing too terrible for sweet Sadie..


Dom said...

That is so, so scary! I hope she doesn't do that again. :(

Black Jack's Carol said...

"And the skies chose that moment to dump a sudden heavy shower upon us. And there wasn't a soul in sight. I sat on the sidewalk, Sam's leash wrapped tightly around one arm, and cradled my twelve year old Sadie on my lap."

Oh, my, I could see and feel that scene! I'm so glad Sadie recovered and hope this turns out to be something not so serious at all.

I'm also thinking of Oliver at this time. RIP little fellow.

I hope the SPCA sale goes really well. And yes, thanks, Jean for all you do to make the lives of animals better.

Thanks also for the heads up about Turtle Gardens. Bill and I have made a small donation and I will add a note on my next post. I'm kicking myself for forgetting that this morning.

King said...

This was a completely new piece of information for me. (BCC) Thank you so much for sharing it. I felt the same things as Black Jack Carol about the scene. I could feel your pang of distress in the pit of my stomache. Thank doG Sadie recovered!
Thoughts of Oliver on this day. My goodness a year already :-( Hope you had a good day at the sale.

Laura Carson said...

Oh Jean! So glad the two of you made it through OK. I've not entered her into the study, but we think June (and several of her close relatives) also has BCC. I've had her go down on me after five mins of frisbee in 65 F weather. Many of the people I know with dogs with BCC say it doesn't have to be hot, so it fits.

Anyway, hope she's OK! Lots of hugs and good thoughts for both of you.

Jean said...

GLP, I wonder if the lady who spoke to your Other Half was talking about vestibular syndrome - it has similar symptoms initially, but doesn't correct itself as quickly, as Cheryl notes in the comment above. I once fostered a dog who developed that - walked with a head tilt and constantly fell over against the wall as he walked.
We are pretty sure this is EIC (or BCC as it is called in border collies), though it may be something wonky with her heart.

At rest, her heart sounds just fine, and she is handling short slow walks fine too. If it is EIC, which is genetic, it is strange it hasn't occured before - she's certainly had strenuous walks in her past, though not in recent months. However, some dogs only have one or two episodes in a lifetime.