Steamboat dog makes miraculous recovery
July 16, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – When Steamboat natives Adam and Brittany Grimes met their dog Diesel, the connection was instantaneous.
"We like to say he picked us," said Brittany, remembering when their miniature pinscher stood out from the litter of puppies grabbing her husband's shoelace in a tug-o-war. “It's like a kid — you teach them good and bad. You're attached. And as soon as they are attached to you, it's an irreversible bond."
A few weeks ago, Diesel, who is 10 years old and 13 pounds of fierce, was on a fishing trip in the Flat Tops with Adam and the couple’s 2-year-old son Brycen, when the dog fell off the back of the ATV.
"Adam put Diesel in the back that day as they were going up to fish, but it was something we had done for years at the ranch without any problems," Brittany said. "They heard him yelp, and they all looked back to see him in the trail."
She said Adam called to tell her he thought Diesel had broken his legs. Their four-legged family member, who had become instantly paralyzed after the fall, was admitted to the Steamboat Veterinary Hospital that morning, June 25, under Dr. Nate Daughenbaugh's care.
"We tried to hold him up, but he just crumbled face first into the exam table," Brittany said.
Recommended Stories For You
"We saw him initially for acute injury, and at the time, he couldn't even stand," Dr. Daughenbaugh said. "You could tell he was in a lot of pain."
The local veterinarian said they stabilized Diesel and monitored him, but Daughenbaugh suspected the dog had suffered a central nervous system injury between the brain and the neck area.
"We both started crying at the vet hospital,” Brittany said. “To see Adam cry was awful. He felt horrible.”
Daughenbaugh eventually referred the Grimes family to Rocky Mountain Veterinary Neurology in Denver, where the spinal neurosurgeon diagnosed Diesel as either sustaining a stroke to his cervical spinal column or herniating his cervical disc causing paralysis similar to a bulging disc in a human. The MRI found Diesel had severely bruised his spinal cord near his neck.
To help Diesel walk, the hospital fitted the dog with a Tetra Cart — a vet-designed wheelchair for dogs, typically on two wheels. For Diesel however, the cart had four wheels.
A quadriplegic for about seven days, Diesel's hope for recovery was looking slim. But on Wednesday, July 3, Adam Grimes received the news that Diesel was walking.
The veterinary staff reported that Diesel had ripped out his urine catheter and had started chewing on his IV. They let him out of the crate, and all of a sudden, he started walking.
"Adam hung up phone, and we watched the video they sent us," Brittany said. "We couldn't believe it and just started crying in disbelief. We thought we would have a quadriplegic dog indefinitely."
"He's a tough little dog who is really sweet," Dr. Daughenbaugh said. "I had a guarded prognosis for him … and I was concerned he would need surgery. But he rallied."
"He's determined," Brittany said. "He has such a good life, and he's a fighter. He wanted to go home."
To help with an $8,000 vet bill and ongoing physical therapy, occupational therapy, medication and travel expenses, the Grimes family created the GoFundMe page, "Help Diesel Walk Again.”
From quadriplegic to about 70-percent recovered, Diesel was discharged from the hospital in Denver on July 4, without the wheels.
"I think at this point, we're expecting a full recovery," Dr. Daughenbaugh said. "The time frame can be from a week to a few months until he's back up to full speed."
His road to recovery involves bed rest, limited five-minute walks, daily massages, round-the-clock medication and range of motion exercises about four times a day.
"He's a determined dog,” Brittany said. “It was all him — he was just not ready to go."