I remember fighting with the vet to do x-rays. He kept telling me that soft tissues, such as nerves, wouldn't show up on x-rays. And if Bruno did indeed have a pinched nerve in his back like he suspected, an x-ray would tell us nothing. My gut told me it was something else and I argued tooth and nail to get those damn x-rays.
I'm glad I stuck with my guns.
Those x-rays revealed Bruno had sustained an injury that resulted in a fracture to the left side of his pelvis. The fracture healed over time, although incorrectly, because we were unaware of this injury. Bruno was in constant pain, trying to shift his weight around to avoid putting pressure on his injured side. Because of this shift in weight, his hips had become dysplastic and his right elbow had severe arthritis.
After the vet explained that the injury looked to be about a few months old, I tried my damn hardest to not cry.
But when I came home, I broke down. I felt like I had failed him. How could I not realize my dog had fractured his hip?! I remember Ryan hugging me and telling me that this was not my fault. We choose a breed with a high deposition for pain and Bruno hid it very well. In fact, three days before his injury, Bruno was still leaping from small ledges to dive into the river for sticks. Or logs. Whatever you want to call them. ;)
Two things that amazed me about this incident:
1) The fact that Vinnie never left Bruno side after we returned from the vets. He parked right next to Bruno and never moved until Bruno woke up from his tranquilized/medicated state. It amazed me to see their bond and I'm glad I was able to stop crying enough to catch the moment on film.
2) The fact that the conventional vet's recommendation was for Bruno to remain on Rimadyl for the rest of his life. That's it.
As if. I immediately went to see another vet who gave us a myriad of options. We started Bruno on Adequan injections and Orthopedic Manipulations (VOM) and within two weeks so an immediate relief in his pain. We also went to see an Orthopedic Specialist who informed us that at some point in his life Bruno will need a total hip replacement. Our new vet also agreed to a point (she said maybe not a total hip replacement, but some surgery at some point will be needed) and urged me to get Bruno on a raw diet.
We've made so many changes since then and now Bruno lives a life with minimal pain. We've only had to resort to using Rimadyl only twice since this incident. Bruno now eats 100% raw, is on various supplements to help manage the pain and prevent further deterioration, and has weekly swimming sessions to help keep his joints strong.
I can't believe a year has flown by. I'm happy to see the Bobblehead back to his happy state and enjoying his life pain free.
I realize now I can't change things. I can't go back in time and prevent his injury. Or keep punishing myself by forcing me to think back when his injury could have happened. All I can do is move forward and enjoy the time I have with the Meathead. Everyday he teaches me something new.
Overtime, many people have commented or inquired about how much money we've spent for Bruno's treatments. I always hear, "Wow, but he's just a dog." I feel sorry for the people who say this, for they have never felt a powerful connection with an animal as the one I feel with Bruno. Without him, I would not be who I am today. I would not be the dog trainer I am today nor would I have been able to help countless others in similar situations. He may be "just a dog" to many, but to us, he is more than that.
As we move forward together, I have learned that we don't need to speak the same language to communicate. We just need our hearts.