DNX FOOD Recipes The gift of more time with Dozer

The gift of more time with Dozer

The gift of more time with Dozer post thumbnail image

I’m so relieved and delirious with happiness to share that Dozer just had his post-operation check up and he’s ok!! I’ve been overwhelmed by all the messages of support and cheering on his recovery. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.~ Nagi x

Taken this afternoon. I chose his good side. The other side is shaved! 🙂

I won’t lie – it’s been a worrying couple of weeks. But a weight has been lifted from my shoulders after getting the all clear from Dozer’s doctors today. So I came straight here to share this great news with you!!!

At SASH in Ryde, the animal hospital, earlier today when Dozer got the all clear!

Dialling back: A fortnight ago, I shared the sad news that Dozer was diagnosed with bi-lateral laryngeal paralysis, a condition where both his larynxes are paralysed so it severely inhibits his breathing. It came on quickly – in January he was romping around at the beach with his mates, then by the end of February he was refusing to go for walks and did nothing more than sleep all day. His breathing was laboured, and he was panting heavily all day and night.

I was so scared. I had been researching endlessly and had read too many sad stories of people saying goodbye to their dogs because they couldn’t watch them struggle with laryngeal paralysis anymore, or losing their dogs because they were too old to cope with the trauma of the surgery.

I made the decision to do the surgery and 2 weeks ago, he went in for what is called a tie-back operation at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital in Ryde (Sydney). The surgeons went in from the outside of Dozer’s neck then tied back one larynx to open up his airways so he can breath more freely. He stayed overnight in their ICU, monitored closely for post op complications which are more prevalent in older dogs (he’s 11 years young!).

Dozer in ICU at SASH

Dozer’s recovery from the operation was slower than I expected. On day 3 after the operation, he was still barely able to struggle to his feet and did nothing but sleep all day. His breathing was extremely hoarse and raspy which the surgeon said was to be expected to an extent from post op swelling in his airways.

Is anybody here surprised when I tell you that I’ve been sleeping on a blow-up beside him every night since the operation? 🙂

I even did an emergency run back to the hospital after I found him in what seemed to be in a barely conscious state. He was a dead weight, just lying on his side without moving as we slid him across the house on a dog bed and lifted him into the car.

Luckily, it seemed to be old-man slow recovery from surgery. Around 10 days after the surgery, he started showing signs of perkiness and was able to get up by himself without assistance. His breathing became noticeably quieter – albeit still a bit hoarse. He greeted me at the door for the first time in a couple of months (I almost wept with happiness). He started playing with toys again. And he even came into the kitchen again when I was cooking high-value food! (meat).

Also (and sorry to gross you out!) he was going to the toilet regularly. He didn’t 💩 for 8 days!!! EIGHT DAYS! That is a LOT of 💩 banked up inside him – I don’t even know how he managed to store that much!!! There was much applause and celebration the day he broke the seal. I even popped a bottle of champers to celebrate. 😂

(Oh yes, and this photo reminded me of how I tried to get his bowels moving 😂).

Dozer’s post op life

But the tie-back surgery does not come without repercussions. He is at higher risk of food and water getting into his lungs and causing aspiration pneumonia (lung infection) which can be serious and deadly. He is on a new diet of slippery, ball-shaped proteins (think, Asian fish balls, but homemade) and jelly cubes made with pureed vegetables that I feed him by hand in a standing position so it slides down his throat easily.

No more random taste testing, lest stray crumbs or little bits of food accidentally get inhaled into his lungs – and the sheer speed at which food disappears down Dozer’s throat means this is a serious risk (I am not joking).

There is also the fact that it’s likely that his laryngeal paralysis is part of a broader nerve weakening syndrome called Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy (GOLPP) which will see a weakening of his hind legs. The question is just the pace at which this occurs. I can’t bring myself to think about this yet. I know how that story ends.

It’s unlikely that he will get back to the same level of activity and energy he was even just a couple of months ago. I’ll be taking his recovery slowly, re-building his strength (bearing in mind he’s basically done no exercise for over a month now) and giving his airways time to finish healing.

And while I do get sad when I think of how Dozer’s life as it was just two months ago is over – splashing in the water with his mates, bolting after any bird that dares to land in his park, getting the last (sometimes the first) bite of everything I eat – it goes without saying that I am just grateful to have more time with him.

Cherish every moment

The reality is, he is getting on in his years. Dozer is just a month out from turning 12. He is (was) in excellent physical condition. Strong, fit, his fur is shiny and smooth, his teeth and eyes in very good condition for his age. His hearing may have been fading a bit, but hard to tell if it’s just selective hearing (seems to hear the crinkle of food wrappers ok).

But this scare is a very strong reminder to me to cherish every moment I have left with him.

Right now, I just want to relish in the glimpses I’m seeing today of the Dozer that I knew. His tail is wagging again. He trots into the kitchen to scavenge for food. He went for a short walk today – 100 metres. Yay Dozer!

Thank you again for your support and cheering him on. Sometimes I feel like your collective positive thinking gave him strength. I know it did me. – Nagi x

Nagi and Dozer post operation
Hadn’t seen the sun in a while when I took this. Hence, squinting!

Dear SASH – thank you for the gift of time

To everyone at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH) in Ryde, from the receptionists to the cleaners, ICU nurses to the anaesthetists, and most especially to Dozer’s surgeons and doctors – Dr James Crowley (surgeon), Dr Tristram Bennett (surgeon), Dr Alex Kennedy (internal medicine) and Dr Amy Dickinson (critical care specialist):

Thank you for the gift of more time with Dozer. I will forever be grateful. ~ Nagi x

Above photo – the incredible team at SASH North Ryde. Left to right: Dr Alex Kennedy (internal medicine), Dozer’s maid, Dozer, Dr James Crowley (surgeon), Dr Tristram Bennett (surgeon), Dr Amy Dickinson (critical care specialist).

And the photo below – double stethoscope situation! With Dr Alex Kennedy and Dr James Crowley.

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