A Medical Matter

Hello once again.

As I have mentioned before, I take my responsibilities as a guide dog owner very seriously.  As such I have responsibilities to ensure that as far as possible, Commando is always in good health.  This includes making sure that his weight stays around the recommended level, that he has regular flee treatments, and that he attends the vet’s for 6 monthly check-ups.

During his last check-up the vet noticed something that she thought may be cause for concern.  Among the various checks that the vet carries out at such a time, is a check on Commando’s paws.  They are put through various positions in order to ensure that the paws, legs and shoulders are all ok.  When the vet checked his left front paws, and took it to the extreme end of one of these tests, Commando showed some resistance to it.

Up to that point I had noticed nothing even slightly unusual in his behaviour to suggest that there was any kind of problem.  He was working perfectly, and playing perfectly, with absolutely no indications that anything was troubling him.  Naturally I explained this to the vet, and informed her that had I noticed anything even slightly off then we would have been straight in for a check.

At this point the vet wasn’t overly concerned, thinking that maybe it was just the result of  a knock when playing, or something equally innocuous.  However she wanted to keep an eye on it, just in case it was a pre-curser to anything more serious.  So a few weeks later we returned, and Commando was still showing a little resistance to the most extreme part of the tests.  Since this resistance was only on the one shoulder, and there were not any other signs of any kind of problem, then the vet was still not too concerned.  However by this point both the vet and I had been in contact with Guide Dogs regarding this issue.

At Guide Dogs the health of every guide dog is of paramount importance, and in each office there are staff whose sole responsibility is to monitor the care and welfare of every guide dog in their jurisdiction.  With that in mind it was decided that, even though there were no outward signs of problems the matter should be more thoroughly investigated, just to be sure there was nothing sinister going on.  I should point out here, that Guide Dogs also covers any medical costs for our dogs.  Just one more example of how much the organisation does for we guide dog owners, and how seriously they take the health and welfare of every one of their dogs.

So an appointment was made for Commando to visit a specialist at an animal hospital, where they would run a full battery of tests to try and get to the bottom of what was going on.  Even though there was no outward sign of trouble with Commando, so much so that on each occasion when I brought him home from the vet, he made a point of grabbing a toy and running around the house at full speed as if to say “see dad, I’m fine, absolutely nothing wrong here”, I was still becoming a little concerned, especially when I realised that I was going to have to leave him at the hospital for the entire day.

So the day came around, and we prepared to head out.  Unfortunately, Commando wasn’t allowed breakfast that day as they would be using anaesthetic.  I had expected more of a protest over this, as soon as Commando realised that I wasn’t preparing breakfast for him.  But he just accepted this fact without complaint, which of course only made me feel even more guilty about it. 

Once we arrived at the hospital, the same kinds of tests were run as had been performed by the vet.  I explained once again that Commando had not shown a single sign of distress or discomfort at any time during work or play, and aside from that little bit of resistance on the test there was no indication of problems.  The consultant explained the kinds of tests they would be running, and said that they may have to shave off some of my boy’s magnificent fur in order to run one of the tests.  Then the time came for me to leave, without my boy…

Naturally, Commando just seemed to be taking all of this in his stride though, so that heartened me a little.  Although once I got home, it felt very strange as for the first time ever in this house it was truly just me on my own. 

I spent the rest of the day watching the clock, just willing the phone to ring to say that all was well and I could come and bring my boy home.  Eventually, just before 4pm in the afternoon, I did get that very call.  They had run all manner of tests, and shaved some of my boys fur, all to find…  Nothing…  All of the tests had come back showing no indications of any problems at all.  Naturally this came as very welcome news to me.  We promptly headed out to fetch Commando home, along with some anti-inflammatory medication to see if we could get rid of this mystery problem once and for all.  That evening, instead of his usual food the Guide Dogs Dog Care and Welfare Officer recommended a nice meal of chicken and rice, which Commando promptly demolished.  In addition she said that I shouldn’t work Commando the next day to give him time to recover.

In the intervening weeks, Commando has been good as gold, taking his tablets in with his food.  We have been back to the hospital for a follow up, where there was still some resistance, but not much more than a tiny flinch.  So with that improvement, and still no signs of trouble in work or play, the consultant was happy to discharge us, and give a green light to the return of free running, which the vet had advised be suspended just in case Commando’s exuberance during free running was contributing to the problem.  Naturally the consultant also said to bring Commando back in at the first sign of any problems, which I would of course do without any hesitation.  However since then there has still been no sign of anything at all bothering Commando, he works, plays, walks, runs, jumps up to give a cuddle and does everything else he normally does without a single sign of distress or discomfort.

So I can say with confidence, “he’s ok folks”.

In the next post, find out what happened when I had to go into College and leave Commando at home…


Gary, 9:41am Thu 17 Jul 2014:

It's great to hear another GDO who cares as much about his dog as I do. My beautiful German Shepherd, Nessie, was very ill recently with a slipped disc in her neck and the GDA couldn't do enough for her. I was also really impressed by the medical treatment she recieved at Glasgow University's Small Animal Hospital. At first it wasn't looking likely that she would work again but now she is and is back with me. Four months without Nessie was very hard and was the first time in 25 years without a dog for that long. That experience made me even more aware of the amazing job the dogs do and also the great job the GDA do too!

JC, 8:57am Thu 17 Jul 2014:

Good to know that you're both alright :)

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Craig And Commando

Craig is in his early thirties and completely blind. His blog details the day-to-day adventures he experiences with his first guide dog, Commando.

Read Craig and Commando's most recent adventures.