UPDATE: I am leaving the older updates in this page so that they're available for reference. But here's the story so far: On Jan. 4, Liz's service dog, Phoebe, suffered a pretty serious stroke event that left her hindquarters paralyzed. She spent three weeks in a veterinary hospital in Denver, and has required vet care and physical therapy since being released. This was a pretty serious blow to us. Phoebe is and has been a literal lifesaver for Liz, as well as a constant and wonderful companion. That we'd do whatever we could for her wasn't even a question. But it hasn't been easy. The bills for care and everything else so far have already reached 1/3 of our annual income, and outstripped our savings and our general means. We've covered what we could with short term loans, but that will quickly get ahead of us as well. That's the bad news. The good news is, Phoebe is walking now, and continues to get more and more use of her legs and rear end. And all indications are she'll recover even more. She's still needing assistance getting up and down off of places like the couch or bed, and she can't maneuver well on tile or other slick surfaces. But she's getting better, and that's what counts.
UPDATE: Since Jan. 4, Phoebe, Liz’s faithful and amazing service dog, has been hospitalized in Denver following a sudden and at the time unexplained loss of the use of her two back legs. The journey from that point to now is detailed below, and in the comments and updates. But the short version is, Phoebe’s paralysis and treatment has meant a lot of medical bills that have far exceeded our ability to pay for them. And while she’s gradually beginning to recover from the injury, the costs of care are beyond what we can handle. Phoebe has made progress, and is beginning to walk assisted at last. But we’re not out of the woods. When all is said and done, she will have spent a week in the hospital, and will require physical therapy after the fact to get her back on her own four feet. The original story follows below.
ORIGINAL: On Jan. 4, Phoebe suffered a devastating and so far inexplicable injury. It just doesn’t make any sense: we were playing in the snow, as she loves doing, and 30 minutes later, she was stuck on the couch, unable to move her back legs. There was never any indication of injury, no pain, just a sudden loss of mobility. As we write this, Phoebe is in the veterinary hospital in Denver, where she was referred by our local vet. We’re two hours away from home, and the only thing we know with certainty is that we’re going to be facing a lot of expenses.
For those that don’t know us, Phoebe is a service dog. But she’s more than that. She’s a literal lifesaver. She’s a hero. And she’s a key member of our household. She and Liz have been a working pair for most of her life. Liz suffers from an assortment of genetic conditions, and Phoebe has literally saved her life no less than twice. And even in her pain and stress, when Liz started crying, Phoebe (heartbreakingly) tried to come over and comfort her. She’d never let us down. And now it’s our turn to never let her down.
Those of you that do know us know that Phoebe is a special creature. Any pet owner in their right mind will claim that their beloved is the sweetest and the best. But I can say with confidence that Phoebe might actually be those things. She’s touched everyone that she’s ever been near. When Liz is doing well enough, she loves to come to the office with me and make the rounds. To say that the two of us are devastated right now is really putting it lightly.
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know that it won’t be inexpensive. She could have a slipped disc, a fibrocartilagic embolism, or something worse like a tumor or cancerous growth. She may be able to be helped with surgery, or she may lose the ability to walk completely, and require other assistance. If there’s a worse outcome than that, we’re not considering it.
Tomorrow, she gets an MRI, and then we’ll know more about what’s going on with her and how we’re going to be able to help her. But we don’t have time to spare. They won’t do their part unless we pay for it. We can gather some resources, but just the deposits for the MRI and possible surgery have already gone beyond our means. Contributions will go directly toward Phoebe’s treatment and care. We’ve already spent everything we have, and leveraged a lot of what we don’t. Anything will help an animal that is much sweeter than any of us deserve.