Here is a story about my Shadow and his issues with his pinched nerve. I wrote this story for the BCOC newsletter.
When I first brought Shadow home, he was a lovable little black and white bundle of joy. At least to me he was. I thought about all of the things we would be able to experience together. He and I were best buddies and he was going to be my foundation stud in time. I was looking forward to having a bunch of little Shadows running around.
I met up with Sue Wilcox not long after I got Shadow, and a friendship ensued between us. Shadow looked upon Sue as his next Mommy! Sue guided me to start getting Shadow ready for a conformation title. At six months he was ready for his first show. I proudly strutted him in the ring. So, he windmilled a bit when he was happy, and he wiggled his butt a bit when he was happy, too. I could deal with that. I could also deal with the Basenji attitude. We all know the attitude. “Do I wanna? Do I not wanna?” When he did “wanna”, he was good. When he didn’t “wanna”, and then he would use whatever means he had to make me look like an idiot. Like the time he decided, at New Liskeard, to run backwards around the ring. Or, when he wanted to show us how happy he really was with his “Happy Dance”. He would windmill those front legs so far out it looked like he was catching flies sideways; then he would get his little butt in a wiggle and shimmy and shake all the way around the ring as if to say, “Look at me, look at me, aren’t I cute!”
At about 9 months, Sue and I started to notice his walk becoming more and more “funky”. We also noticed a few other odd things about him. He had a tendency to “hump” when he got excited and happy. We quickly finished him by about 1 year and 2 months. By the time he was 18 months, his body was in rough shape. His right back leg not only seemed to turn in at the knee, but it also looked like his right leg came under him as he walked as if to support his back end. I decided to take him to the BCOA National in St. Louis to show him to a few people to see if they could figure anything out. He had been to the vet and nothing wrong could be found. In St. Louis, I had about 10 people look at him, all long time breeders and people with experience in structure in Basenjis. Everyone saw a problem, but we couldn’t quite figure out what that problem was. We thought maybe a slipping patella, or perhaps his hips. While in St. Louis with Lynn Arrand and Sue, we decided to travel up to Tracey Leonard’s vet practice to send his OFA off. Shadow was now 2 years and we thought we might be able to see something in an x-ray. We had an x-ray taken of his hips and knees. The only thing we could see was that the muscle development was not as great in one side as the other. Another perplexing problem. His OFA came back as ok on both hips and knees.
After we got home from St. Louis we weren’t sure where to turn. Shadow no longer wanted to run, play, or get into much trouble. I changed vets about this time and the new vet could also see a problem, but after he poured over the x-rays, blood tests, history, etc., he could still find nothing wrong structurally. Over the next year, Shadow continued to worsen. He had progressed to the point of laying down all the time except for potty time. If he lay wrong he would scream in pain, get up and move, and lay down again. I started to contemplate euthanasia for Shadow. He was now neutered and I couldn’t rationalize having him in pain for my benefit as my pet. Long-term pain medication was not an option for me because I know of the addiction factors. He was also becoming more and more miserable. He started to nip people and just not be a happy dog. His eyes were clouded with pain as well. About this time, I started talking to a few people on line that had taken their dogs to chiropractors. They were also unsure of the problem with Shadow, but thought this might be something to think about since I was already contemplating euthanasia anyway, sort of like a last stop before the big event. I was given the name of Dr. Susan Langdon who lives about 40 minutes from me. She had the credentials behind her and her demeanour on the phone was very positive. A lot of people were sceptical of the results that would be obtained, but also felt I had nothing to lose. I made an appointment with Dr. Langdon.
I travelled to Dr. Langdon’s office and met Dr. Langdon. She was very quiet but had confidence that I liked. First she took his history and what had happened when. Then, Dr. Langdon started to touch Shadow and go over his body with her hands, just lightly touching him. Her diagnosis was this; everything in his body was off kilter. But, she believed it was not structural at all. She believed he had a pinched nerve. Every time the nerve spasms, his body tightens and contorts. If he gets excited the nerve sets off a spasm and he humps. Finally, something that might mean he could be helped. She also stated this would never be something that would go away, but something that we could help relieve in some way. She also cautioned that she was unsure how long the adjustments would last and how far they could help him. Dr. Langdon manipulated him for the first time. She would see him again in two weeks to see how it helped him.
Shadow, over the next two weeks, started to move around more and seemed to be in less pain than he had been. But I noticed he seemed to have trouble eating, actually chewing his food. With all his other problems I had not noticed this before. At the next appointment I mentioned this to Dr. Langdon and not only did she adjust his body, but she discovered he also had TMJ as well. We felt this could have been caused by the spasms as well. About six weeks after he had been going to Dr. Langdon I showed him to some people who had seen him shortly before he started his sessions. They could not believe the difference in him. Although the walk was still “funky”, he was walking without pain. He was interested in what was going on around him. Yeeeeehaaaaaaawwww!
Shadow kept progressing and we moved his appointments to once per month. Around this time, since he was more interested in what was going on around him, and getting into more and more trouble, I decided to see if he would be interested in racing. About a month later the opportunity came up to take him to the races to see if he would run. He ran all the way around the track after the bunny! What an improvement for a dog that was going to be put to sleep a few months before!
It is now about 9 months since Shadow started to see Dr. Langdon and Shadow continues to see Dr. Langdon about once every two months. He still humps if he gets excited but not to the point he had been. I use this as a gauge to determine if he needs to see Dr. Langdon before the two months is up. He will always have to see her to continue his pain free days. But, it’s a small price to pay for a pain free existence. Shadow continues to improve. He is starting to track straighter. Damisi (one year old Basenji) and Shadow play and roughhouse. Right now they roughhouse at least twice a day. Shadow has also started his Rally obedience-with typical Basenji attitude. “I don’t want to do this and you can’t make me! See! This is what I can do, poop in the ring and look at you like you’re nuts. You want me to what?? Ummm, I don’t think so; maybe later; I’ll get back to you on that one!” Hopefully this year he will be back at racing as well.
I hope that anyone that has never thought of alternative medicine will consider it. The results can be enormous. Oh, and by the way, if you ever talk to Sue Wilcox, ask her to do the “Shadow walk”. It’s really funny.