Our old German Shepherd, Pappy, is well on his way to recovering after 10 days in the vet hospital in Helena. I had taken him in one morning after finding him listless, with no appetite, and a high fever (105.7). Turns out he had pneumonia. Last Sunday, July 10th, our vets had called and said he could come on Monday. But on Monday morning they called to say Pappy had suddenly come down with meningitis and that I should come over to be with him "just in case." Just in case he didn't make it. I hopped in the truck and drove like mad the 70 miles to Helena.
A spinal tap and analysis of his fluid confirmed the meningitis diagnosis. Our vets gave him a 20% chance of survival. He looked and felt awful. He didn't respond to me, didn't even seem to realize I or anyone else was around him. Just a blank look. I waited until a vet tech arrived from St. Peter's Hospital with the special meningitis drug and watched as they injected it into his IV and trickled into his veins. I kissed and petted this special old boy and left in tears, afraid I would never see him alive again.
All that night we waited for the phone to ring. It didn't. The next morning the report was astonishing. Pappy was alive, alert and eating ... and his temperature had plummeted. Every day last week we waited for the twice daily call from our vets with the update. Each day came and there were no setbacks. Only slow, steady progress. Gradually we allowed ourselves to hope. Our vets cautioned against too much hope. Meningitis is a killer. In an old dog, it can be especially lethal.
Last Wednesday I drove over in the evening to be with Pappy at the clinic. I wanted him to know we were still there. Then, on Friday, our vets said we could bring him home for the weekend if we wanted to. But it was our call. Clinically they would prefer he stay in the hospital, but they also recognized the therapeutic value of being home. And they thought the risk was reasonable. There was no doubt in our mind.
I drove back to Helena Friday evening and picked him up. When I got back to the ranch with him, Alayne and I both cried. We didn't think Pappy would ever be coming home again.
So far Pappy's doing great. He's eating, drinking, and alert. He's still very weak and needs help walking. He is struggling with bowel and bladder control ... less of the former, more of the latter. We have to get up during the night to help him. But he is steadily gaining strength. His temperature has stayed in the normal range. Our vets caution that he can still have a relapse ... the chances are as high as 50%. So every day is a blessing.
You can see Pappy's original story on our Web site here.