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Elsa Queen of Sussex

This was a piece on Elsa from
August 2018

It's been a tough few weeks for our little chum.

Culminating in surgery.

Spinal surgery at that.

We thought 
 she wouldn't pull through.

WE should have known better........

We all think our dogs are special, don't we?
And they are.

There seems an extra something in Elsa.
She loves people.
 And they certainly adore her.

She gives a truly spaniel greeting to anyone who wants one.
The whole body moves.
The tail thumps.
She's very vocal with it.
It makes people walk away with a smile on their face.
Lifts their day.

My husband has MS.
And although he still works really hard, with our antique business,
(up at 4am this morning to go to Ardingly Antiques Fair)
sometimes he feels like...well, you know the word.
Elsa likes to help serve customers

How she knows, is anyone's guess.

But when Nass feels rough, she jumps on his lap,
 puts both paws around his neck and kisses him all over his face.
Then gives him a high five with her paw.

He says he cannot help but laugh.

We hadn't set out to have a dog.
Though we might one day.

Went to visit our friends whose cocker spaniel had puppies.

"Let's just go and have a cup of tea and look at the puppies."
Yeah right.

Just look?
That was never going to happen, was it???

Now 10 months old,
a few weeks ago Elsa was limping.
Had pain in her left leg.

On Xray, it showed there was no problem with bone.

What the vet did find, however, was a small infected area.

"Looks like a foreign body has gone in."
"Foreign body. Such as what?"
"Grass probably. They often come out through the skin somewhere else."

The leg healed, and we got back to the business of the wonderful walks Elsa and I share.

We live in a beautiful area, in Sussex, England.

Filled with the most glorious countryside walks.

and beaches....

Elsa with her mum and brother

up to strangers to make their day

on the beach with her brother who we meet every couple of weeks

leading the way

But then she started limping on the right leg.
The vet couldn't anaesthetise and Xray as Elsa had diarrhoea.
That had to clear first as it meant her resistance was low.

Before all that happened, she was screaming with pain.
A vet from the practice we go to also happens to live next door.
Heard the anguished cries.

"Brennie we need to get her in."

We took her to the vet specialising in orthopaedics as it seemed that was the problem.

But when she moved Elsa's legs there was little reaction.
Then she moved her neck.
The screams of pain were awful.

"I want to refer you. Are you ok with that?"
"Yes, anything."

We were booked in and took her straight away to Optivet in Havant.
They had all the facilities for investigating, including CT scans.

This was last Wednesday.
As well as the notes our vet had emailed over,
they took a detailed history of everything.

Did Elsa have diarrhoea?
Did we have diarrhoea?
Where we walked.
What she ate.

How we drove home I'll never know.
They called us later.

I sobbed all night.

The grass seed that had gone in and infected her leg?
Had migrated.

And lodged itself.

In her spinal column.

They operated next day, Thursday.
The surgeon called us to explain things.

It was a tough operation.

There weren't many cases of grass in the spine.

In many other parts of the body.
The only similar case we could all find online was in NZ.

Elsa could go to a specialist spinal theatre.
But that would be a few days and a journey.
And they weren't sure she would survive it.

We told him to go ahead.
There was no alternative.
We had to get on with it or it may be too late.

He had to make us aware, he said,
 he may call us halfway if all was not well.

To say he felt we shouldn't wake her.

For the next two and a half hours
we didn't know what to do with ourselves.

 Nass ran round doing irrelevant
jobs, like going to the tip.
Just to keep his mind off what was happening.

I sat in front of Elsa on my screensaver.
Giving positive thoughts.

When the surgeon called next, his
 voice sounded a lot more buoyant.

"Good news!"

They had managed to get the grass out.
A nerve to one leg had been cut through.
The only way to get the wretched thing.

Elsa stayed at Optivet until Friday afternoon.
But sadly they close over weekends.

At 4.15 on Friday we had a panic.
Where next?

A friend had told me about a veterinary hospital in Storrington
 where she takes her dogs.
They had 24-hour cover.

"Can you take her? Do you have a bed?"

Yes, they could take her.

We travelled to Havant to collect Elsa.
It was traumatic when we saw her.

She was totally out of it.

Drip. Catheter.
Neck brace.
Drug patches.

The journey was scary.

So, by now it's Friday night and as we left her,
in the condition she was in, we really, really, thought we might lose her.

We visited on Saturday.
"Are you still turning her every 4 hours?"
"No not every, as she is beginning to turn herself."
"You are kidding."

We were stunned as we watched her trying to stand.
The difference in less than 24 hours, was unbelievable.
The care she was being given, faultless.

On Sunday I visited with our friend Maxine, (who we had Elsa from.)

The veterinary nurse said,
"Wait, wait, until I sort her out, if she hears your voice she will run."

Max and I just looked at each other mouthing,


All parties involved spoke on the phone
......... and decided Elsa could come home.

The proviso was that we had a large crate and just
10 minute walks up and down the garden.
The rest of the time in her crate to keep her calm and rested.

This for 8 weeks.

Our local vet lent us the crate.

We still have a long, long way to go.
But that tail is starting to really wag again.

We never thought she would be coming this far in only 6 days.

And the grass?

This is probably the most expensive blade of grass in the world.

In terms of physical suffering, it has caused little Elsa
but also
the financial cost.
Thank goodness for pet insurance.

Huge thanks to everyone who
 played such a big part in Elsa journey.

That's all at
Fitzalan House Veterinary
especially Lisa and Alison

Optivet Referrals
particularly Ian, Matthew and their team

Arun Veterinary Group Storrington

and of course all
 our fabulous friends
FB and otherwise,
for all their kind words of support.

The upshot of this was that Elsa had a twisted foot and limp for a while.
But after only a few weeks she was well on the mend.
And now?

She and I have the most wonderful daily walks.

Forest, beach, over the downs........