Hi, I’d like to tell you about my best friend Lisa, and her dog Nikko. Lisa and I have been BFF for 40 years. I’ve never met a person with as much compassion for people, and animals as Lisa…For as long as I have known her, Lisa has always had pets. Over the years it was usually 2-3 cats, and a dog or two. Should I mention she once gave CPR to a mouse?? Lisa’s pride and joy is her 90lb baby Nikko, a beautiful German Shepherd. Life for them changed on Sunday September 2, 2018.
This past weekend started like any other for the two of them…Saturday, Lisa got home from work and took Nikko out to play. He loves his Chuck-it ball, and she said he chased it around the yard until he was tired. After dinner the two went for their nightly walk, and ultimately to bed. They all have a bedtime ritual, where Lisa will yell “Bedtime cookies!” and her 2 cats and dog will go running into the bedroom, jump up on the bed, and the 3 will wait for their bedtime snacks before going to sleep. Funniest thing you ever want to see! Lisa said all was well…
Waiting for bedtime cookies!
Sunday morning Lisa went out to play some ball with Nikko, and she said he seemed off…He didn’t want to play, kept lying down, seemed a little lethargic, and refused breakfast. But dogs, like people, all have their days. Nikko has always been a picky eater, and it was hot out. Later that evening Lisa decided to take Nikko for a night on the town. Metuchen was having an outdoor movie night under the stars, so she packed a bag for him with some toys, grabbed a chair, and went to load him into the car. Nikko all excited as usual when a car ride is involved went to jump in, but she said he didn’t make it. Instead he slammed chest first into the rear bumper, and fell to the ground. She said he got up, and tried to get in again, but Lisa had to lift him as he gave a little cry. They continued to movie night but she knew something wasn’t right. He had no interest in interacting with other dogs that walked by, or the abundance of people, and children running around. At bedtime she said he also was unable to jump onto the bed for his bedtime cookies, and when helping him up she saw that he was painful in both back legs.
Labor Day morning she said Nikko had gotten worse. She now noticed his back legs were weaker, and his stance was unsteady. She immediately packed him into the car with much difficulty and took him to the emergency, specialty hospital. She said the vet that saw Nikko after a brief exam, suspected Lyme’s disease. The vet said she wanted to do a Tick test, and if it came back negative she would send them home with Rimadyl & Gabapentin to see if that helped over the next few days. Lisa said she was confused, and told the vet she didn’t think it would get better, as it had been getting worse… She asked the vet what the next step would be if his condition did not improve. The vet told her then we would probably do X-Rays of his legs. Lisa insisted if the Lyme’s test came back negative; to immediately do the X-rays as she did not want to wait. Unfortunately for Nikko, he was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury and sent home with medicine.
At the vets...
Lisa told me when she got home he could barely get out of the car. She said she helped him out and he immediately fell down, started freaking out because he couldn’t stand, and she had to sit on the ground with him for 10 minutes trying to calm him. When she finally got him inside he dropped inside the door, and refused to move. At that point Lisa texted his primary vet Dr. Scott, to tell him what was going on, and he immediately called her back. The first thing he asked her was if they had done any neurological exams such as a Deep Pain Perception test to see if he was losing feeling in his legs. Dr. Scott wanted to know if they had offered a MRI or Mylegram as he was extremely concerned Nikko’s spinal cord was being affected. Over the phone he guided her to do these tests while she recorded them and sent them so he could see. Nikko was showing no feeling in his back feet or legs, but unfortunately he also wasn’t reacting to those same tests to the front so her vet said he was probably just being Nikko…Non-reactive.
Deep Pain Perception test = Nikko's legs being stuck with a needle!
Dr. Scott said the main determining test would be if Nikko could get up and walk, otherwise they would immediately need to go back…She said Nikko upon coaxing was able to get up of his own accord and walk back and forth across the room. Although she said he was still unsteady, he was walking. By now it was almost 9pm, they had spent 7 hours at the emergency vet, and it was a holiday. It was decided that with the lateness of the hour it did not make sense to take him back as they probably wouldn’t be able to do anything until morning. And at this point Nikko was able to walk, and now comfortably asleep.
Notice his back left leg already has a distinct problem...
Dr. Scott told Lisa to give him the Rimadyl and if by morning he did not look better, to immediately go back and insist other tests were performed, and that he saw a neurologist. Dr. Scott was very upset at the diagnosis, and at the very least lack of any type of neurology tests or education on what to watch out for…
Lisa said she stayed on the couch all night, watching him sleep. About 5am he woke up, and she attempted to take him outside. At this point she realized he seemed to be completely paralyzed from his tail down. His legs were limp, and she was unable to get him up. She called a friend for help to load him into the car, and immediately went back to the emergency vet where she was then able to see the neurologist. She said an immediate MRI was done which showed herniation and budging discs at L3-L4 & L4-L5 with compression to the spinal cord. Surgery needed to be performed immediately. Because his condition had been time sensitive, and he had already lost all sensation to his back end, the neurologist told Lisa he could only offer a 50/50 chance of Nikko regaining any function. Upon asking the neurologist if they had done this yesterday, what the odds would have been, he replied 85-95%. She did find out later that even though it was a holiday, and the neurologist was not present the previous day, they had the capabilities to do the MRI, and an orthopedic surgeon was present to have done the procedure.
Back at the vets...
Where they are at now:
Nikko made it through the surgery, but it now becomes a waiting game to see if Nikko will walk again. The first report she got the morning after surgery was that he still had no movement or pain sensation in his back legs, and was also unable to pee on his own. We went to visit him that night, and Nikko was so happy to see his mommy that he attempted to wag his tail. His tail didn’t wag, BUT it did move. The vet was watching and said that was more than they had seen all day and he is hopeful, but only time and therapy will tell.
9/6/18: In the morning the vet called to say Nikko was in good spirits and his fentanyl was being weaned. He was also showing signs of regaining pain sensation in his legs. Not a lot, but he said it’s a start in the right direction. Nikko has also been receiving multiple cage side therapies. We went to visit Nikko in the evening but it was very depressing. Poor Nikko was extremely drugged up, and did not even know his mommy was there. The vet on duty said the injectable hydrocodone he had been switched to earlier had been to strong, and they had to reverse some of it. But it had left Nikko in a drugged out state. We were told he was also running a slight fever. It was a hard visit...
Originally Lisa was told if all went well Nikko’s discharge date would be Sunday. However, because of these small improvements Nikko is beginning to show, and if they continue, the benefits of an extended stay to his recovery are now being discussed. By keeping him there he would be able to continue to receive multiple therapies throughout the day such as cold laser, electrical stimulation, acupuncture, and whatever else they do. Rest, and time are also very important to this process, but we all know the benefits of additional therapy immediately following an injury or surgery.
However, this all comes at a cost. Nikko’s vet bills since the weekend are close to $12,000. This does not yet include any further treatment Lisa may choose to seek moving forward. If it is decided he should remain longer in the hospital where he can get the best treatment right now it is estimated it could be an additional $200-$250/day with boarding. Even if he comes home he will still require therapy. We are all hopeful, and praying that he can make enough of a recovery to at least just be a dog. He doesn’t need to be perfect; we just want him to walk. Those of us that love Nikko, and Lisa are heartbroken for them. The look on his face when they brought him in last night made me cry because he doesn’t understand why he can’t run to mom. Watching Lisa cry with Nikko’s head on her lap as he looked up at her broke my heart. We try not to think of the alternative that she could face with a paralyzed dog.
Nikko with his mommy...
As Lisa’s best friend I have decided to start this Go-Fund-Me page in hope of easing some of her financial burden. Nikko is her baby, and she is trying to do everything she can to help him. She blames herself for not knowing to ask for another test that first day. No one knows but God how this will play out at this point.
I am humbly asking all of you to please say a prayer, give what you can or at least please share Nikko’s story with your friends. And If you are reading Nikko’s story then you must be a dog lover too. So let's all of us become a part of 'Team Nikko' and let's help Nikko walk again!!!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart...
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