As I wrote a week or two ago, I’ve had a sick pup to manage.

That super long day has now stretched into a couple of super long weeks consisting of little sleep, lots of worry and a very unhappy hound dog.

The biggest struggle for all involved, I think, lies in the unknown. We don’t know what is causing my puppy’s episodes. We know he howls and cries. We know he chases his tail and chews on his tail and hindquarters, and we can’t get him to stop once he gets started without physically restraining him. 

The episodes are loud, stressful and terrifying.  

More than that, though, we’re frustrated that we can’t seem to determine the cause of Dozer’s pain. 

We’ve visited our veterinarian here in Sheridan several times over the last few weeks. They’ve performed exams, provided sedation, tried dewormer medication and taken X-rays of our little pooch. Still, we cannot figure it out. 

So, our veterinarian here referred us to colleagues in Billings, Montana. We went up on Monday and the gracious veterinarian spent nearly 3.5 hours with us. She performed a couple more tests, did her own exam and talked us through our options. Unfortunately, she wasn’t sure what to point to as the cause either.

So, the problem with choosing a course of treatment is that we’re grasping at straws. We don’t know if what we’re trying will work or exacerbate the problem.

One theory is that Dozer is suffering from discospondylitis, essentially an infection of the intervertebral discs and adjacent vertebral endplates. Another theory is there is something broken or wrong that hasn’t showed up on X-rays. Finally, a third theory is that Dozer’s episodes are behavioral, a form of compulsive behavior.

After the lengthy conversation with the Billings vet, we opted to treat for discospondylitis. So, Dozer is being medicated with a light sedative, strong antibiotics and some nerve pain medication. We hope he’ll show improvement in the next week or so, indicating that we’re on the right track. This would provide peace of mind for us and relief for our pooch.

If it doesn’t work, we’ll have to decide if we can pop down to Colorado State University to get an MRI on the pup or if we should pursue treatment of the compulsive behavior. 

I love my dog, as most pet owners do. I want the best for him and, of course, I want the pup to survive and thrive. What I cannot stand is seeing him in pain — whether it is physical or psychological. If we could pinpoint the issue, we could at least determine if it is treatable and if it is, the quality of life our beloved pooch would have. But, not knowing makes every decision feel like a guess. It makes us feel like we’re choosing wrong and it with each howling, crying episode, breaks our hearts.

So, if you see us out and about, bear with us. My husband and I (and Dozer) are sleep deprived and scattered. We hope we’ll figure it out soon.