A Guarded Prognosis

Chapter 2

By Leslie Gallagher

Kenny was in even worse shape than I had thought. Not only was he unable to move any of his legs, he was in pain. A LOT of pain. And we still had absolutely no idea what was wrong with him because Lisa hadn’t had the money for diagnostics. Was it a spinal cord tumor? Was it a slipped or bulging disc? Was it an infectious or inflammatory disease of the spinal cord? Was it Wobblers, a disease Dobermans are very prone to (which usually involves the neck and paralysis). Was it some sort of trauma? Lisa wasn’t 100% sure what had happened as whatever it was that set this off had occurred in the evening and she didn’t find Kenny till the next day. She suspected that a metal door had been dropped on him but she wasn’t certain and none of the staff/volunteers fessed up.

We very carefully loaded him into my car and I raced off to the neurologist with sweaty palms. With a spinal cord injury every hour matters. The faster you can get it treated, the more positive and better chances you have for a good recovery. That is, of course, unless the spinal cord has been so badly damaged there is no hope for recovery.


Leslie Meets Ken

Leslie Meets Ken


I absolutely love Dobermans and I love Lisa. This had become personal. When I was 16 years old I took a summer job in Sacramento working in the State Capitol. In the neighborhood where I was living there had been a spate of attacks on young women by someone called “the East Side Rapist”. I was very nervous living alone so after several weeks of these news reports I drove to the local pound and picked up the biggest, gnarliest looking Doberman in the place. I was actually quite afraid of him as I walked him to my car. On the drive home I grew even more nervous as he started pacing around in the back seat. At a stoplight he climbed onto the front seat and stared at me. Yikes! When we started moving again he tried to climb into my lap. This huge Doberman! He was trying to cuddle! Maybe to say, “Thank you” (though I was still terrified of him!). He turned out to be basically a Labrador in a Doberman’s suit but none of my neighbors figured that out or messed with us and I felt completely safe with him by my side at night. Thus began my love affair with the breed.

The neurologist took an x-ray of his neck but she knew we didn’t have the roughly $8000 for an MRI and subsequent surgery. She said that there was no obvious fracture, luxation (slippage) or cancer, though his disc spaces did look compressed in two areas. As he had lost all motor function, including the ability to urinate on his own, she felt his prognosis was guarded (veterinary speak for “Not good”). She loaded him up on pain medication and told me that we could “knock ourselves out with rehab”. And very kindly said that we could certainly consider humane euthanasia if he wasn’t any better in a week or two. *@&^%$#!! With a knot in my stomach we drove back to the facility to start rehab. This was not going to be easy.


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