Help Putu get his Wiggle Back!

Below is the story of one of my "kids". Putu was born in my hands in Kansas November 4, 2011. He was an outgoing energetic fellow and a personality that would just swallow you up whole, his entire body, his "wiggle", is involved in one of his welcomes! His parents Jill and Greg fell in love with him when he was a few days old they KNEW this was their dog, they just had to convince me and I them to venture into showing this handsome boy. Putu lived with me until he was 6 months old and then ventured off to New York- the big city to be with his family. He has travelled all over the US to obtain many coveted American Kennel Club championship points, and we are oh so close to seeing the word "CHAMPION" in front of his name. As his breeder I am fortunate to have found such an amazing family to send Putu off to- they dote on him and allow him to follow his various dreams of being a surfer dog, a skateboarder dog, a city dog, and a country dog. No one would have guessed he would be struck down so suddenly at just a little over 2years old, to an infection that no one saw coming. Hindsight being 20/20 purchasing Pet Insurance would have been a great investment if only we knew what was coming. Read his story below and you too will be moved to help Jill and Greg get Putu's Wiggle Back.
Amber Gates
FarMore Boxers

From Jill regarding her boy Putu ....
Diagnosis Discospondylitis - T11-12 (Infection in the vertebral end plates).

Many of you are aware of what has been going on with Putu and I'd like to share what we went through, so if your boxer is showing symptoms you are aware of what could be happening.

Jan 3rd we went for a walk on the beach, it was the day after the snowstorm, Putu was on leash. We came home, 30 min later he was in an incredible amount of pain. He couldn't sit down and when he tried he would gag or dry heave. Within the hour we took him to the vet, concerned it could be bloat. He had a full examination, showed no signs of pain, of course he perked up when we got to the vet and was not acting terribly sick. He was given an anti-nausea shot and we were sent home.

About 6 hours later, we were driving him to pet emergency, he was in an increasing amount of pain, unable to lie down, falling asleep standing and kind of out of it. We knew we would have to get him pain meds because he would never make it through the night. This vet examined him again, still no pain response, however, he did stop panting when she touch a spot on his back...once. She thought he is being stoic and not wanting to show pain. She guessed he strained his back and sent us home with Tramadol and Rimadyl. We were told to not give him Rimadyl if he didn't eat and none of my cooking or baiting would convince him to eat for about 3 more days.

Finally he ate something, and we gave him the Rimadyl, within an hour he had his appetite back. The next day we were still not seeing any improvement even with the 2 drugs, so we took him back to the vet again. This time, she thought, maybe it is his stomach, he could have a bleeding ulcer. This was based on the fact that he had a very arched back from the pain and that his stool was looking suspicious. At this point we opted for blood work and x-rays because we were still not seeing any improvement. The initial blood tests came back "off" and she sent them out for further testing, his xray was fine but this she also sent out to a radiologist for review. She sent us home with a bunch of meds for an ulcer. X-rays and blood work came back fine.

A few days go by and we are still seeing no improvement, he's still in a great deal of pain and standing for most of the day. We talk to the vet and decide to wean him off the Rimadyl so we can see if Prednisone alleviates his pain. 3 days are needed to clear the Rimadyl out of his system before we can start the Prednisone to see if that helps.

Things get worse, he is in so much pain, he's only sleeping standing up and at the point of exhaustion he would lie down for 20 min. We were up around the clock with him trying to comfort him and get him to rest.

We finally make it through the 3 days to get him off the Rimadyl and things are definitely worse. He's in so much pain now that it's clear we need to make the decision to do more imaging tests. We are sure at this point he must have slipped a disc in the snow on our walk somehow. We are referred to a Neurologist and take him in for an examination.

He's admitted, put on an iv of Fentanyl and we leave our baby to spend the night and hopefully get some pain relief and rest before his MRI in the morning.

He has the MRI (@$5k) and it is diagnosed that he has Discospondylitis, essentially spinal meningitis. There are 3 possible causes of the bacterial infection: Staph, Fungal, & Brucella. We just got the lab results back this afternoon that he is negative for fungal and brucella which is very good news as the staph is more easily treatable (various pain meds, antibiotics, and additional bloodwork coming in well over $1500).

The Neurologist said we are lucky that we caught it so early, even though it may not seem early to us. And that we are very lucky that we didn't put him on the Prednisone as it likely "would've killed him" due to steroids inhibiting the body's ability to fight infection.

Putu was 53 pounds when we picked him up from the hospital, it is amazing to me that he could lose close to 20 pounds in 10 days. Since then, he has been home and started the antibiotics, we are seeing improvements finally. He has been eating like a king and has finally put some weight back on. He will be on antibiotics for 2-3 months until the infection is completely out of his spine. He is on bed rest and we are managing his pain.

There is no way of telling how the infection got into his system. He hasn't had any wounds or injuries...I think it's just bum luck. A couple take aways or life lessons for me, health insurance is probably a really good idea for your dog, I think when all is said an done we'll have paid about $10,000 out of pocket as he'll require additional tests to ensure the infection is in fact completely gone. Also, while the Prednisone may have helped his pain for a few days, ultimately it could've killed him. This is a very scary thought, so I think it's really important to find out what you're dealing with before giving a med that may just mask the actual problem.

I can't even put into works how emotional this whole ordeal has been for us. Putu is a big part of our family, we love him very much and we thought for sure that we were going to lose him. I'm also so grateful for our friends, family & boxer family that have reached out to us to check on him, offer words of support and to those who shared their similar experiences with us. Thank you all for your support and love, we are very optimistic that Putu will get his wiggle back.

Putu will need to have antibiotics for at least 3 months and will need to have a follow up MRI to see if his spine is clear of the infection.

XOXO Jill, Greg, and Putu

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Amber Anslow Gates 
Long Beach, NY
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