Medical Diagnosis was slow and difficult to come by:
On Rally's very first day in rescue, February 21, ATRA had a canine neurologist x-ray and examine him. The neurologist noted "severe tetraparesis" in both his front and hind legs, with the back legs being far worse. Rally weighed in at 23 pounds and in two sets of radiographs taken, with the best equipment around, his spine was found to be completely normal in all respects. Rally was ordered back for a spinal tap, myelogram and blood panels in two days.
Rally with Beamer the Lab and Dozie the Terrier-mix
Since ATRA has not had good experiences with myelograms they opted to take Rally to Canada and have an MRI done instead. Rally underwent anesthesia on a Thursday and had the spinal tap and blood draws for complicated tests to be performed by Cornell and USCDavis. Three days later he traveled to London, Ontario, Canada where he again underwent anesthesia and MRI.
Rally in the April snow
Being one tough little Airedale, he came through the tests with flying colors and was awake, hungry and frisky immediately after his procedures. ATRA waited on pins and needles for four weeks before hearing any news from Rally's international team of veterinary specialists. Finally, the neurologist overseeing the case, reported back: the Canine Radiologist reported on Rally's MRI - everything normal. The blood and serum toxicology tests were all normal (titers in the blood are supposed to read positive for distemper, rabies and other diseases the pup was vaccinated against). The spinal tap results showed only one abnormality - titers for distemper in the column fluid. This, combined with the fact that every other possible problem (cysts, lesions, crushed vertebrae, infection, malformation, etc.) had been ruled out, led to the diagnosis of "distemper myelitis". Rally had contracted the distemper virus, perhaps in utero, perhaps in his early days at the breeders, and his immune system could not fight off the virus. This diagnosis meant in all likelihood Rally would not improve - mobility-wise - and would always need assistance to get around.
Imagine the looks a 40-something rescue volunteer gets wheeling a paralyzed Airedale puppy around in a stroller!
A very "special" rescue Airedale:
ATRA had spent enough time with this little guy to know, without a doubt, that he was not in any pain or discomfort. Rally was clearly an Airedale who had the will to get up even though he fell down time and time again. He is not frustrated and happily accepts help from his caregivers with tail wagging. With the help of a sling and some humanpower Rally is able to stand shoulder to shoulder and wrestle with other dogs. He is able to pull himself forward on the snow or grass and scoot his hind quarters around at a pretty fast clip. He has learned to time his lunges from the ground to catch hold of the collars of passing dogs and use them to pull himself along. Rally loves to play and can hold his own at tug-of-war and bone chewing contests - he often gets the best of the Lab in his foster home!
Typical puppy - curious and naughty!
Rally needs to be lifted and carried from inside to outside, and he needs to be lifted and held so he can relieve himself. The decision on whether to keep Rally up and running was made by his foster mom. ATRA has been very supportive and wants to give Rally time to learn about life and love while waiting to see what Mother Nature and Holistic Medicine can do for him.
Continue with the story of Rally HERE