Champ's fall in the bathtub
Champ began his life with his mother chewing through the umbilical cord and into his stomach. During
surgery to mend the stomach and liver, a severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia was found. Champ had
another surgery at 11.5 weeks to repair the hernia again. He had a follow-up visit to the surgeon and the following weekend we went back to Corvallis, where I'm a student.
That Monday, October 12, 2009, I let him outside for 20 minutes and found him vomiting, looking very
sick, and couldn't stand up. After a radiograph, blood work and an exam, he was treated with anti-
inflammatories and antihistamines for a bee sting, as that was what his symptoms presented, albeit an
extreme reaction. He vomited during the night and the next day was on an IV and amoxycillin with
concerns that he had encephalitis or ingested a neurotoxin.
By Wednesday, he could not support himself but had pain response in his toes. His respiration, temperature,
and circulation appeared fine. He drank and ate when hand-fed. Now there were concerns about distemper,
botulism, or spinal injury because he had slipped and fell into the bathtub a few days ago.
I took him to a neurologist in Portland on Thursday and had more tests and an MRI. Champ had some
congenital skeletel malformations that may be related, though why or how could not be answered. The
cause of his problems was fluid from the base of his brain, almost clear down to his lower back. With no
injury/fracture to be found, another MRI was done and determined the fluid was not normal but something
with much greater protein. A spinal tap was suggested but had the potential of disrupting the fluid. We
opted to euthanize Champ back at home in Hermiston, but I had to go back to school in Corvallis first.
Champ stayed at my vet at the Corvallis clinic on Monday when I went to school. He called and told me
about an osteopathic therapist in Eugene that had excellent recoveries with dogs. She had looked at
Champ's MRI report and noted a subluxation in his neck which quite possibly was from his slip and
awkward landing in the bathtub the week prior. She was able to see Champ that same day.
The session with Patricia was nothing like any medical treatment I've ever seen applied. It was very much "alternative medicine" to me. I had to smile, too, because it was the least expensive route we've gone
within the last week. As it would be, it was also the most effective thing we could have done. If I
remember correctly, he had a concussion from the fall and spinal cord compression. That night I saw hind
At Patricia's recommendation, we changed his food; she wanted a homemade diet, but I decided to go
with Innova canned puppy food because I didn't have time to cook for myself between Champ and going to
school. On Tuesday, after another session, Champ was lapping water and moving his head around better
and that night he stood up to defecate. We had one more session with Patricia on Wednesday, then we
headed back to Hermiston for the rest of the week. Champ still had pain in his neck, but was attempting to
walk the next day! Eight days later he was walking on his own and was running and playing a month later.
Since moving him to grain/gluten-free foods, his coat got much softer and his body filled out more.
We went for another session with Patricia two weeks later, then a month after that. She worked a bit more
on his spine and bloodflow. She said he was in great shape, and his gait was now flawless. It still is.
Chelsea Rock, Hermiston, Oregon
Note: Champ's owners run the Rock Llewellin Setters Kennels in Hermiston, Oregon. Champ's story is a
wonderful blog covering his rough start on life and recovery.