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Yesterday afternoon we went to the hospital to spend some time with Oliver.  If I weren’t there to see a dog, I would never know that this was anything but a regular hospital.  There are very well appointed waiting rooms, hallways of patient rooms and reception desks in each department just like any hospital I’ve ever visited.  In fact, the hospital in which Oliver is a patient may actually be nicer than the hospital where I delivered Addison.

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We were escorted to an exam room and waited for the technicians to bring Oliver in.  When they first opened the door and I saw his big, black head peek around the corner, I thought he was walking in on his own four legs.  I soon realized that they had his hind quarters in a sling to help him along.  Still, it was just great to see his face.

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Ollie’s neurologist came in and talked to us a little about what was going on.  My dog has a neurologist.  Right.  She was very realistic with us and did not at all try to get our hopes up about Oliver recovering the use of his legs.  So far, the function loss hasn’t spread so that’s a good thing.  The worst thing that could happen is that he would lose the use of all of his limbs.  Right now, it’s still isolated to his hind legs and tail.  He has feeling in them, he just can’t control them and make them work.  The doctor said they are having to manually help him to go to the bathroom.  But I’m wondering if maybe they just haven’t given him a chance to go on his own.  He can be a dawdler when it comes to going to the bathroom.

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They did hydrotherapy with him yesterday shortly before we arrived.  He was still wet when we saw him.  They put him in a pool of water with a treadmill underneath him.  Some dogs will move their legs reflexively just to keep up.  Oliver did not.  That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t ever, he just didn’t yesterday.  This worried me but the doctor said it’s way too early to tell anything because we were still in the first 48 hours after the stroke.  She said some dogs show absolutely no improvement for a week, and then start to recover.  On the flip side of that, some dogs don’t recover at all and we need to be prepared for that.

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He’s not on any drugs.  There’s nothing they can give him; no steroids, no anti-inflammatories and no pain killers because he’s not in any pain.  We really want him home with us, but if that’s not what’s best for him right now then we’ll continue to wait impatiently.  They did move him to a larger room which was a relief for me to hear, because he doesn’t deal well with small spaces or kennels in general.  I warned him if he so much as looks at the mini-bar, it’s nothing but Alpo for the next year.

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This was taken a split second before he ate the mini pumpkin muffin out of Addison's hand.

He was very happy to see us.  He can’t wag his tail, but he was making all of his usual excited sounds.  The first thing Addison did was go in for a kiss on his head.  What really stuck with me most about our visit with Ollie yesterday is that he is still 100% Oliver.  He was still his cuddly self.  He went nuts over getting his ears rubbed and even without the use his hind legs, he was trying to get as close to us as possible.  He’s still 100% our Oliver, he just can’t walk.  I couldn’t help but think about everyone who has had to face the impossible decision of whether or not to put their pet to sleep.  If Oliver were in pain, unable to control his bodily functions and laying there like a bump, it’s something we would consider.  We wouldn’t selfishly keep him here just because it would be hard to lose him.  Seeing him yesterday reinforced that we were doing the right thing by getting him help.  He may need assistance getting around, he may walk differently, and he may never fetch his ball again, but it’s clear that he will still very much be the sweet and loyal dog we’ve always known.

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