Saturday, October 24, 2009
Why My Pug Has Wheels
Some people have been asking why Beebs needs a cart. If you've followed my Flickr stream for the past year and a half, then you know why. For those who are new or don't have time to view the hundreds of photos and videos of Beebs and read their descriptions, I thought I'd do a blog post about it. That way I can just link people to the blog post instead of writing out an explanation each and every time.
We adopted Beebs from a rescue on July 12th., 2008. She was born sometime in 1996. We are her third owners. When we adopted her we could clearly see she had trouble walking. Her foster mom told us everything she knew about Beebs, saying that Beebs had arthritis, problems with her knees (where they pop out of place) and that her previous owners had complained that Bebe peed all over the house and didn't get along with her other dogs or people. Hmmm. Her foster mom saw no evidence of peeing all over the house or her not getting along with others in the two weeks Bebe lived with her. She said that Bebe had damp hind legs once, but that would be from an inability to hold her bladder --- a medical problem, not a deliberate peeing in the house issue. Her foster mom also said Bebe had trouble squatting to go to the bathroom and would sometimes fall over if you didn't support her. All of these things were easy to manage and live with so we adopted her happily on the spot.
We are so glad we did. She is such a sweetie!!
Beebs has never, ever had conflicts with anyone. She is very passive, laid back, mellow and pleasantly social. She is very good at lounging. She is the most gentle dog I've ever seen. No behavioral problems at all. She even gets along with our chinchillas. She's a pug saint, really.
Which leads me to believe the real reason she was surrendered to the rescue was that her owners didn't want to, or were unable to, pay for her vet care. The condition she was in when we adopted her is shocking to me now, though at the time all I saw was how adorably sweet she was. I think her foster mom was the first person to clean Bebe's face in a very long time. She was covered in goo. Eye goo, drool goo, chunks of yeast from under her nose roll. Stains that ran all down her face, chest and front paws.
Her previous owners hadn't taken the time for even basic daily care. Bebe's more pressing physical ailments were also not taken care of by anyone but her foster mom. All of the vets Bebe has seen have agreed on three things. Her knees are out of place, have been for so long that it would take major surgery to repair. The nerves in her back that are connected to her hind legs are being pinched by disks that are out of place. She has arthritis in her hindquarters.
All of these things were not treated by her previous owners in any way. They got worse and worse until it became the situation she was in when we adopted her --- she couldn't squat, had trouble holding her bladder, her knees were swollen and she couldn't bend them when she walked and she dragged her hind feet. So, yeah. The real reason her previous owners surrendered her was that they just didn't care. I wish they'd surrendered her sooner. Instead they kept her locked in a crate in the garage.
Anyway, Bebe's back could be temporarily treated with anti-inflammatory steroids, but it's not something that could be done forever. Treated like that for too long, it would do more harm than good. We tried it. At first Beebs seemed better. Then not. So we tapered her off them entirely. The only other treatment is surgery --- both for her back and her knees. No way in hell. The vets are all VERY enthusiastic about surgery. Well, yeah. They make bank and they don't care if they hurt or kill your dog. Not all vets are assholes. I've had several who were kind. Unfortunately I've run into some who were nothing more than greedy bullies and we did not take Beebs back to see them again. When I adopted Beebs I agreed that I would never let anyone do any surgery on her unless it was life saving. I specifically promised her foster mom that I would not allow anyone to operate on Bebe's knees. Beebs is old and might not survive the surgery like a younger dog would. And it wouldn't serve a useful purpose. If she wants to walk normally, we can get her a wheelchair. If she's in pain, we can give her pain medication. The surgeries themselves would've caused a tremendous amount of pain for her and she wouldn't have known we were trying to help her. All she would've known was that we'd let someone hurt her.
Luckily, Beebs loves her wheels and zips around the neighborhood faster than she ever could on her hind legs. She doesn't suffer any pain that can't be managed with baby aspirin. Even as her mobility diminished, there was no increase in pain. The opposite was true. Her decreased mobility in her hind legs is because of diminishing feeling back there. She's going numb because those damn disks in her back keep pinching her nerves. Fortunately, the wheelchair seems to take some of the pressure off because she wags her tail while cruising around on her wheels and she's even started moving her hind feet again during walks, in spite of the fact that they're kept off the ground in stirrups to protect her toes :) We keep panties on her so her bladder can leak as much as it wants and she never gets in trouble for it. She can, and does, let fly whenever and wherever, and she has never, not once gotten in trouble for it.
She lives like the Pug Empress she is, chariot included ;)