Zen and the Art Of Paralyzed Shih Tzu Maintenance

“Lucy has had major back surgery.  It is imperative that her movement is restricted.  Keep her confined.  Make sure she does not twist, pull her back, or slip in any way.”


Three physical therapy sessions a day of doggie bicycles and such are not really a problem.  It’s the dosing of the medicine that is proving a little more “involved” than I thought.

I strap my son into his highchair to keep him out of the way.

I approach the stitched together pup with caution.

As I open the cage, the filled syringe of medication drips slowly onto my foot.  I must place the syringe into the corner of her mouth and… just dribble it in.

No problem.

Except she sees me coming.  She knows what’s up.

She starts wiggling.

*Crap, she’s gonna hurt herself*

I lunge forward and hold her little back still.  Then I attempt to place the syringe in her mouth.  She eyeballs it, as it approaches her face.

She tries to twist her head around- exorcist style, in a desperate attempt to always keep the syringe at least two inches from her face.

*Shit, she could break her back*

“Shhhhhhh, baby, calmm down.”

I’m talking to her, and to myself, as my anxiety level rises.

I approach- she twists her head.

I approach- she twists her head.

I scoop her up and try to hold her in one arm, brace her head between my chin and neck, and shove the syringe in her mouth as quickly as possible.

It does not work.

She swats me away with her left paw a total of of five times- because despite being paralyzed in the hind quarter, she is somehow a prize fighter up front.

She also yelps.

*I’ve snapped something! Oh my God, she’s gonna die.*

I gently put her down…

for a few minutes…

and cry.

She seems fine, but looks at me with accusatory eyes.

I attempt to reason with her, cupping her face between my hands, and looking into her eyes:

“It is very important that you work with me, here.  You need this medicine.  It will not hurt you.  It may taste bad, but it’s for your own good.”

I lay her down.  I gently, but firmly press her head down to the floor to keep her from moving it.  I pry open her mouth with my fingers, and slip the syringe in. I squeeze a few drops into her mouth before she starts flopping like dead fish to get away.

“Oh, stop it! Stop it! Stay still. Shhhhh.  Stay still, girl.”

I breathe.

Just a few more ml to go.

I straddle her to keep her back straight, making sure not to sit on her (a suggestion from the surgery tech), and try to cover her eyes so she doesn’t see the syringe coming.

Beads of sweat are forming on my brow… I think… or, I may have squirted myself in the face.

I bring the syringe to her mouth chanting, “Stay, stay, stay, stay”.

And… Bam… I squeeze the plunger, the liquid goes in… I pull the syringe out… and it’s empty!

“Good girl.  I love you.  I’m sorry.  GOOD GIRL!”

She looks up at me, and I see that about 50% of her medicine landed on the side of her face.

That means half of it made it down the hatch!

I’m queen of the world.

Only three more different meds to go.

Then we’re good…

for four hours…

til we do all four meds again…

Piece of fucking cake.



12 responses to “Zen and the Art Of Paralyzed Shih Tzu Maintenance”

  1. Is it wrong that I was disappointed not to see pictures of
    dogs on bicycles? I went through this a little bit after our dog
    was spayed. She developed some problems and every time you picked
    her up a certain way she screamed. I was 6 months pregnant and she
    couldn’t get up and down the stairs. So I woudl have to try to pick
    her up to bring her down to take her outside. I cried EVERY time. A
    few times I just let her pee upstairs b/c it was less traumatic
    than her yelp and my fear of dropping her. You sound like a really
    good doggy mommy!

  2. cj lowder says:

    awww bless, poor baby! i hope she gets better soon! my dad
    had a dog just like her for years! he passed away from old age
    several years ago and it broke my dad’s heart! here’s to a speedy

  3. Crystal says:

    Oh No!!! That looks terrible!! Our cat was attacked by something outside (I think the neighbor’s dog! Grrr!) several years ago. SHe had stitches everywhere, drainage tube, cone around her head…yuck. Trying to give that cat medicine was ridiculous! Who knew they were so strong…and obviously WAY smarter than me!!

  4. Nikki Massey-Hastings says:

    Oh Jen-Hang in there! I know how that feels…on a much less traumatic level. I won’t even go into describing what every summer is like for us with our lethally allergic dog to two very prominent things in our region (a tree and a weed). I cry often during the summer because I feel so helpless. We have to carry him outside to go to the bathroom because the itching is so bad that it physically hurts him and he is bloody no matter what we do (including a cone for 3-4 months). It hurts so much to watch something you love suffer and to struggle so hard to do what’s best for them, only for them to be so scared and confused by what you are doing. You are such a good dog mom.

    With our other puppy, the one and only time she was in danger was after she swallowed a ton of my cherry pits. I had to pin her down and dump hydrogen peroxide down her throat. I felt like I was poisoning her….I think she agreed. We power struggled for a long time before I could pull it off and I cried the whole time. And then she puked for 30 minutes and gave me the evilest eye the whole time. And I just cried because I felt so badly and just kept softly telling her that I love her and I was so sorry. I do however, although I hate those times, feel that they help me to grow immensely in a strong balance of empathy towards the suffering and firmness about what must be done.

  5. Minky {moo} says:

    Oh honey!!! What a trial. She is so precious it’s worth it but man! Yikes!

  6. ohforfuckssake look at that FACE!!!!!!!

    dude, this post stressed me out to read… but i’m sending you good healing vibes… and a pinch of sanity.

    xo mama!

  7. Mama Bear says:

    Oh honey, I can relate. We had to do the same to our dear little kitty who was fighting lymphoma. Awful, just awful. They just don’t understand why someone they love and seems so smart is so stupid as to want to feed them icky stuff. And when they don’t feel good. We found that our kitty LOVED hairball medicine (go figure), so we would give that to her right afterward, like a little reward. So we would show her the hairball medicine tube before the meds and she started to associate them and get less stressed out. Can you do something like that? Poor you. Poor pup. This is the sort of thing rich people pay to have done. Hugs.

  8. Ashley says:

    I remember a Christ as where my cat sliced his leg open on a piece of glass while we were wrapping presents. I hated the next weeks – trying to get him to have medication, not move much, not jump, not go downstairs. It was a nightmare. But he’s healthy and happy as could be now.

    Best wishes for you and her!

  9. Ashley says:

    Sigh. Gotta love dog interruptions while I’m trying to comment about another one.

    I remember a Christmas* is probably what that should say.

  10. the mrs says:

    Our dog, a Maltese, hurt his back for the second time in a year this week. Slipped disc? Not sure what his treatment will be, but an MRI is next on the agenda. I have wondered more than three times today if he hates me, because I have to pick him up to take him outside. I also spoke the words “we don’t have kids; so he can have their college fund” at the vet today.

    I feel your pain. Bummed for you and your pup. Hope you both feel better soon.

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