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Update December 2020:  Just recently, tests indicated regenerative anemia so we have slowly changed over the steroid for another medication and are currently adjusting this dose. EACH change takes a month where we let his system acclimate and retest.

Diego has responded well to a limited ingredient diet, not expensive but no chicken/chicken byproducts for this pup.  He is FINALLY gaining weight.

The hurdle now seems to be gastro-issues i.e. random bouts of diarrhea. Manages well by steroids, but Dr. Prior believes that is the cause of the anemia.

Hs foster family has been amazing through his entire ordeal. It is a lot of work for this little pup.  While Diego has been with his foster family for 10 months now, this is a temporary placement.  He will need a long term foster, or adoptive family in the near future.

Diego’s Journey:

Sweet Diego is a Wonder-pup. Well a miracle pup may be more like it as it is a miracle he is walking and running.

Diego hitched a ride from Mexico on 3/30/20. We had no idea this little miniature golden had experienced such a traumatic event recently. Diego suffered an injury that would have paralyzed most dogs. Our veterinarians and specialists have confirmed that his spine had been severed at the L7 vertebrae and had been left to heal on its own, crushing or severing nerves in his spinal column. According to specialists, this is the type of injury you would see when a dog is run over by a car.  In looking at his x-rays you would not believe a dog with this injury could walk let alone run.

This is what makes Diego a special case. The severing of his spine also irreparably damaged the nerves, specifically the ones that regulate elimination.  Diego is incontinent, both urinary and bowels. The upside is, this is a little guy so the mess is not that big.

We have consulted with neurologists and an orthopedic surgeon and ALL agree ANY surgical intervention to try to remediate his condition would most likely make thing worse, and not worth the risk.

Diego is one happy go lucky pup who has no idea that there is anything different about him.  Sure, he has some mobility issues but he LOVES his walks, and gets in a few each day.

So here we have the cutest, sweetest, 3 year old pup that needs a forever home with a condition that would prevent most families from adopting him. We do not want Diego to be a 100% outside dog.  He needs to be integrated into a family.

We are currently using large pee pads in his crate at night. That has been helpful as Diego ‘leaks’ continually. His bladder does not completely fill and he does not have the muscle tone, more the nerve connection to make himself go…although he still loves to life his leg on a bush to say “Hello!”

His sphincter muscles have also atrophied. When his tummy and brain says, “Time to go pal!” He squats and thinks he is going…but nothing. Then he may bark or sneeze and oops…Surprise! Again, good thing he is a little dog.

Acupuncture and laser therapy have not been ruled out to see if this can help in any way. Right now we are still working through a few medical things. His white blood cell count and liver enzymes are elevated. We will retest at the beginning of May and that will give us our next steps. He still needs to be neutered. All of this can be managed with any of our wonderful rescue vets throughout southern California so there is no reason for him to remain in his temporary foster home any longer.

Update June 29, 2020:

A lot has gone on in Diego’s world since his initial posting in May. We have added to his entourage of Veterinary specialists a fabulous internist.  Blood work to check some levels that were a little high and to keep tabs on his liver enzymes, which have been all over the place. More tests to check for trace elements (being from Mexico, we had to be sure he didn’t get into anything toxic).  Things appeared to be stabilizing. Diego’s liver enzymes were dropping slowly and almost came into range when they skyrocketed again. An ultrasound of his liver shows nothing of concern. There is a dilation of the urethra at the prostate but not concerning.

Needing to put on a few pounds, his food intake was increased by 50% yet the following recheck weeks later had him losing ½ lb. He has had a few bouts of diarrhea which leads to more questions and possibilities. The next step was more tests.

The result of his GI panel indicates there could be insufficiency in his small intestine which could be Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a cancerous process like lymphoma or a fungal infection.

We have exhausted all non-invasive testing at our disposal to diagnose this poor pup.  A liver biopsy is the next step to try to determine why his liver enzymes are so out of whack and the internist recommends performing biopsies of his GI tract since we are already in there, which we will do.

It will be tricky for Diego. Liver biopsies are usually pretty smooth and we expect no complications there.  Working with the GI tract is a delicate operation as the healing of the intestine must be synchronous with the deterioration of the sutures keeping it closed, otherwise sepsis can occur. This is why Diego will remain hospitalized for a few days.

We have already had one postponement because of another bout of diarrhea, and not he is slated for surgery on July 2. At that time we will move his bio to the recovery room.  Please keep this sweet pup in your thoughts. He is the poster-pup for resilience.

Diego Sails Through Surgery!

Thank you all who have donated to Diego’s care! The surgical cost was just over $5,000. He did splendidly and is home recovering. His foster family must ice his incision area in intervals (15 minutes, 3-4 times/day) for 3 days, then switch to warm compresses. He has been the perfect patient and is healing well.


Liver biopsies and samples of other areas of in his GI were obtained and no cancer has been detected!  Chronic active hepatitis (which is really inflammation of the liver) and hepatocellular necrosis wide spread/scattered throughout the liver, cause unknown. As for his GI tract, all point to inflammatory bowel disease.

Since his surgery, Dr. Prior (his amazing Internist at California Veterinary Specialists) has been taking blood work and tweaking medications to normalize his liver enzymes. He was placed on steroids for inflammation and continues his liver supplement.