Well, that is according to my statistically insignificant sample size of 3. 

Those of you who recall my previous ramblings and our family trauma of Maisy, who endured a lifetime of ups-and-downs, will be familiar with our experience of Basset Hound spinal injuries and their consequences. 

Ever since our experience with Maisy, Cas & I have always been uber-paranoid about the potential for spinal problems in our other two dogs, Barney and Archie. To the extent that we carry them just about anywhere that might cause them to jump off or down something, and one sign of discomfort would result in a trip to the vets just to be sure.

Well this year, Archie had been showing some signs of some back and hind leg issues. It fluctuated, sometimes being quite sloppy and un-coordinated on his feet. The obligatory course of metacam and some bed rest normally would sort him out after a few days and he'd be back to his normal robust self.

This is the same Archie who I used to climb up mountains in Scotland with, the Archie who would hold his own with the Spaniels out on the shoot., the same Archie that would always get the stick first because he just wanted it more.

Earlier in the week he was again showing some signs of discomfort and by Tuesday evening it was clear that he wasn't fairing too well. 

Even worse, when he got up the next morning, he could barely walk at all - instead resorted to dragging his hind legs a little confused as to why they weren't following as normal. 

It was oh so reminiscent of Maisy, as I carried him outside into the garden to do his thing, clamping my hands together under his belly and supporting his back and hind legs so he could walk with his front pair. 

Archie showing his sense of humour

A trip to our local vets and he was quickly referred on to a specialist for further diagnostics. This time, I knew exactly what that meant - MRI scan. After a few calls it was not going well. The initial referral practise ran a 2 weekly cycle for MRI scans, and I knew the answer as it was coming out of Jade, our vets mouth... the last one was yesterday.

The second choice practise used a shared MRI scanner, that was BROKEN! The best they could offer was a CT scan and if inconclusive, a mylegram - like we had with Maisy. 

Cross section of spine

Cross section of spine

After they phoned around to see who else may have a functional MRI scanner, we also learned that this week, of all weeks, the anyone whose anyone of Neurology was in Paris attending an industry shin dig. That was not going to help us.

In the end it came down to Bristol or Guildford, we went Bristol. 

An initial consultation with Tom, our neurologist (who had packed for Paris, but not left) and Milka, who would be staying behind, we agreed to go for the MRI scan and if the results reaffirmed our hypothesis that the issue was being caused by a slipped or burst disc, then we would go down the surgical route.

That sounds like it was a fairly simple decision, but it wasn't

I was told that generally, Archie had a very good chance of regaining his walk with no surgical intervention. Oh? Really? Well that was a surprise. But there's around 25% - 30% chance of a relapse.

With surgery, the strategy is not so much the treatment of the current issue - if that was the sole reason then Tom's perspective would be avoid surgery in this case. But instead, where we were able to also reduce the risk of recurrence, then the surgery would be an avenue to pursue. 

 "I'll be working on the spinal chord with a power tool"

That particularly grounded quote did wonders for my sensitivity towards the risks of surgery. But having also had a good experience of surgery with Maisy, felt comfortable that I understood the risks and believed that the rationale for going the surgical route was the correct one.

An example of IV Disc Disease

An example of IV Disc Disease

And as suspected, it was a burst disc. The MRI showed that Archie has a relatively narrow canal compared to the size of his spinal chord, which basically means he's even more susceptible to compression on the chord with any distortion of the discs. 

He went under the "angle grinder" yesterday afternoon. 

The surgery went as well as could be hoped - it certainly hadn't made anything worse. Today he is cheering up, and as I await further and more specific news from the Neurologist, I type this post as a recollection of events and to remind myself that these moments, however hard to deal with at the time, are what defines us - our love for our family (that includes pets), our ability to cope with what gets thrown our way and dealing with the aftermath of our decisions.