Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The amazing story about the incredible Nikko Bear.

Of all the old stories I have written on this blog none has the drama and excitement as this one about Nikko Bear's incredible overnight recovery from spinal cord surgery. I originally wrote this on my old web site when it happened back in 2000. Then I included it as an epilogue when Nikko passed away in 2004. I think you will agree it is an amazing story.

You've probably heard the phrase "mind over matter" but do you know the things that motivate a Rottweiler more than anything else? Would you believe "FOOD" was at the top of their list? Here is the true story about Nikko Bear's miraculous recovery from spinal cord surgery motivated by nothing more than a home cooked meal.
Photo of Mocha and Nikko in the bath tub.
During the early morning hours on Tuesday, July 11, 2000 - Nikko Bear decided to jump down off his Mom's bed where he sleeps every night. He must have landed the wrong way because we found him laying in the upstairs bath tub when we got up and he had trouble getting out of it. (I need to add that the bath tubs in our house were the favorite spots for their naps and that we called them their fortress of solitude.) We noticed Nikko was walking with difficulty and decided to take him to the vet. After x-rays were taken we were told a lesion was found on his spine.
Wednesday, July 12th we started looking for an Orthopedic specialist for a second opinion. Nikko Bear was now having a lot of trouble walking.
Thursday, July 13th Nikko Bear became paralyzed in his hind legs. Two ladies named Kristen and Dianna who worked at our veterinarian's office Fort Wright Pet Care (now called Noah's Ark) were most likely responsible for setting the stage for The Bear's recovery. Kristen contacted by telephone what is probably the best place in the entire mid-west for surgical treatment, Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine located in Columbus, Ohio - about 120-miles away.

Get Nikko to Columbus before 4:00pm and they would look at him, we were told. We broke some speed limits on the way. We made the 120 mile trip in less than 2 hours.

Later that night after we returned home we got a phone call from Dr. Michael Podell, the surgeon from OSU who told us that he operated on Nikko Bear and removed a ruptured a disk from his spine between the L4 and L5 vertebrae. Dr. Podell said Nikko's spinal cord had suffered severe trauma and had extensive swelling and bruising. 

We were extremely fortunate to have such talented people as Dr. Michael Podell, Associate Professor of Small Animal Medicine perform the operation. Dr. Podell was assisted by Dr. Steven Flegel, resident in Neurology.

I was told by one of the female students who work at the OSU Veterinary Clinic that after their initial examination they decided they needed a CAT Scan of Nikko's back. At the time the school didn't have such equipment so after it got dark they snuck Nikko across the street to the Children's Hospital and did the CAT Scan there. I was so impressed with this level of dedication that I added a special compliment to this school on my web site.

Friday morning, July 14th, Dr. Podell called again. After Nikko Bear came out of the anesthesia he didn't like the place and was becoming aggressive and they could not take care of him any more. We had to come and pick him up right away.

Friday afternoon, we were ushered into a conference room and given a very grim prognosis on Nikko's future. Dr. Podell showed us how to perform physical therapy on The Bear's hind legs to prevent atrophy. We were given literature on wheeled prosthesis and told we should not expect any signs of leg movement for two weeks. It may be possible for Nikko to walk again within 4-6 weeks but the damage was too extensive to make any predictions.

Friday evening, we arrived home and I had to carry The Bear into the house and up the stairs. We made a nice bed for him in the first-floor den which looks out on the hallway to the kitchen, one of his favorite places. My wife Jacqueline had made supper and called me to come out and eat. As soon as I sat down, Nikko Bear dragged himself up onto his feet and hobbled into the kitchen walking on all four legs. This was less than 24-hours from having Spinal Cord Surgery. See the photos taken that night.

To say we were overwhelmed is an understatement. The first thing I did was place a telephone call to OSU to advise Dr. Podell that Nikko was walking. Dr. Podell couldn't believe it either and cautioned us to try and keep Nikko off his feet for a few days. That was easier said then done. Dr. Podell apparently had no experience dealing with the fortitude of a mature Rottweiler.
Nikko Bear at home 24 hours after his spinal cord surgery.
Nikko Bear's recovery from that day to present has been unbelievable. He seemed to be his old happy, playful self again which makes us think he was in pain for some time before he jumped off the bed. We're just as happy to have him back. Nikko Bear lived more than four years after recovering from that surgery and those were the prime years of his life. Living a pampered, stress-free life probably allowed him to live beyond his normal life expectancy.


  1. That is amazing! I love that they slept in the bathtub, too. I imagine in the warmer months, they enjoyed the coolness of the tub. I know all of my boys hate the warmer weather.

    1. They have as many different personalities, preferences and likes and dislikes as people have. Of my 7 they were the only 2 that ever went into a bath tub.