Bringing Back Beaner

It was Christmas morning in 2018 and while most people were heading out to family functions, Tanya Prospero and Rick Anodal were making their way to the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph to visit their seven-year-old mini Shar Pei, Beaner, who had been hospitalized the day before.

Beaner’s condition had suddenly deteriorated when he became unable to walk without collapsing, appeared to be paralyzed and refused to eat or drink. Since it was Christmas Eve and most veterinary hospitals were booked up or closed for the holidays, their family veterinarian referred Beaner to a local emergency clinic. When it became obvious that Beaner may have been suffering from a bacterial or a neurological condition, it was recommended that their best course of action was to take their dog to Guelph. Frustrated that they were left with more questions, no answers and terrified that another car ride could do more damage if their dog had a back or spinal cord injury, Beaner’s family got into their car and started driving to OVC’s Companion Animal Hospital. 

“What we didn’t realize at the time was that taking Beaner to OVC was going to save his life,” Tanya says. 

Between tears, Tanya and Rick did their best to explain what had happened to the veterinary team that welcomed the couple and Beaner upon arrival. 

Tests were run and a CT scan confirmed his diagnosis: intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), a condition where the cushioning discs between the spinal column either bulge or burst into the spinal cord space, causing painful clinical signs in dogs. Beaner needed immediate surgery and there were no guarantees that he would ever be able to walk again. 

Understanding the unknowns, the family moved forward with the operation – a procedure called a ventral slot surgery was performed with the goal of repairing the herniated disc between Beaner’s C2 and C3 vertebrae.

“After surgery, it felt like a giant weight had been taken off of our shoulders, but it was quickly replaced with a new one: a waiting game and a long road to recovery ahead,” Tanya remembers. 

Beaner ended up spending two weeks at OVC. At first, he was totally unable to move his legs. Gradually, he could sit up for short periods of time, but still unable to stand on his own. “Did we make the wrong decision?” they wondered. 

Tanya and Rick took Beaner home in January and decided to continue with the recommended rehabilitation plan, a mix of both wet and dry therapy sessions with the Ontario Veterinary College Fitness and Rehabilitation Service located in the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Centre. 

“The first few water treadmill sessions were heartbreaking, as we watched Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs) Jacy Ford and Quinn Moyer, under Dr. Tiffany Durzi’s guidance and direction, sit in the tank with Beaner and move his legs for him. But then two weeks into his therapy something incredible happened: Beaner’s progress leaped forward – he was able to stand up on his own, walk with less assistance during rehab sessions and eventually, six weeks after that, walk around completely unassisted,” Rick recalls. 

Both Rick and Tanya recognize they only met a fraction of the staff and medical team who played a role in their dog’s recovery. 

“Beaner was admitted to OVC over the holidays, which means that everyone who made the commitment to be there gave up spending time with their family and loved ones. This level of devotion often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. We would like to take this opportunity while we share our story to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone at OVC who has gone above and beyond to help our dog and the many other pets in their care – it is because of you that our family is whole again.” 

Today Beaner’s owners say he is back to his old self at home with his usual larger-than-life personality and Tanya and Rick are no longer questioning if they made the right decision. His right front leg still slips inwards when he walks and he has a bit of a limp on his back-right leg too. He’s a bit clumsy when he gets excited, but Tanya and Rick are hopeful that even these abnormalities will improve over time. 

“In the end it’s made us cherish the little things that add up to what makes your dog a special part of your life. The trivial things; like how he comes to the kitchen expecting peanut butter because you opened the jar. How he buries his head between you and the sofa during a thunderstorm. How he actually seems to be enjoying watching television on a lazy Sunday. This scare, the experience of almost losing him, highlights how much Beaner is a special part of our lives because we could not imagine our family without him.”

 

Watch Beaner during one of his water rehabilitation sessions to see his post-operative progress on the water treadmill with OVC’s Fitness and Rehabilitation Service team member Quinn on our OVC IGTV. 

 

Ontario Veterinary College on Instagram: "Beaner was paralyzed from the neck down. See his post-operative progress on the water treadmill with OVC's Fitness and Rehabilitation..."

806 Likes, 20 Comments - Ontario Veterinary College (@ontvetcollege) on Instagram: "Beaner was paralyzed from the neck down. See his post-operative progress on the water treadmill..."


 

 

 

Read more in the fall / winter issue of Best Friends Magazine