On Saturday lunchtime I was out for lunch with a friend when my phone rang. It was Leon calling to tell me that Otis had collapsed and he was on his way to the vet with him and could I meet him there.
I quickly left, put Zephyr in the van and drove to meet them. When I got there Leon was sat in the back of the car with Otis. Otis was lying down and seemed subdued, but I got in with him and cuddled up and he rested his head on my lap whilst we waited for the vet. The vet was with another emergency and we needed a stretcher to move Otis.
Once we were in the consulting room and Otis was being examined he seemed to cheer up, he was giving me lots of kisses whilst the vet took all of her observations and even wagged his tail. The vet needed to see him on his feet so we asked him to stand and he appeared drunk with no coordination and extreme weakness through his front limbs. I thought it was neurological, but the vet wanted to first rule out a bleed from the spleen into the abdomen. Otis was admitted at 3pm for tests and fluids and the vet would ring us later that evening with an update.
At 6pm she called to say all blood work and scan was normal and revealed nothing more than a heart murmur. Otis had been seen by a referral medic vet and the most likely diagnosis at this stage was an FCE (fibrocartilaginous embolism) on his spine, probably his neck as he was weak through the forelimbs. The best course of action now was rest and painkillers overnight and to look for improvement by the morning. If no improvement he would need an MRI.
At 6.30am on Sunday the night vet called to say that Otis seemed to deteriorate overnight with weakness now in hind limbs too and that our vet would call us in the next couple of hours to discuss MRI.
Jo (vet) called and asked if we were able to drive Otis to a vet specialist in Ringwood (aprox 1.5 hours away), which we agreed to. We arrived at the vets at 11am and Jo met us. She was concerned as Otis’ breathing had become worse since she had called us. She took us through to see him and it was a shock. When we left him yesterday he was still wagging his tail and trying to nibble my nose. Now he couldn’t move, not even his head or eyes and his breathing was raspy and a struggle. He didn’t seem to know we were there and just had a fixed look of fear.
The nurses carried him out to our van and we cuddled him. We had discussed the prognosis with Jo based on the results of the MRI and Jo was concerned that with the sudden deterioration that the journey may be too much for him.
We made the heartbreaking decision to let him go. He was still canulated so Jo agreed that it could be done in the campervan, where it was quiet, comfortable and familiar with us both there. The grief was, and still is overwhelming.
We are heartbroken, it was so quick and we were not ready to lose him. We are still grieving for Hendrix and struggling to make sense of it. When I left home on Saturday at 11.30 am he was his normal self, 24 hours later and we had to say goodbye.
We now need to adjust to a life and a home without a Labrador in it.