First, I would like to thank all my fibery blogland friends. You are the best! Thank you for all your support and encouraging words about Hero.
I brought Hero down to Portland (ME) this morning for a consultation with a referral vet who is a fellowship trained veterinary neurosurgeon. They even have their own MRI instead of having to sneak the animals into a human one!
Hero had an MRI, CT scan and lumbar puncture this afternoon. The vet neurosurgeon found significant lumbar stenosis or narrowing of the lower spine, causing impingement of the nerves to his hind quarters. That is what is causing the leg weakness, tail droop and urinary incontinence, loss of rectal tone, etc. Hero will have surgery for that in the morning, assuming the preliminary results in the morning on the spinal fluid are negative for infection. His leg weakness and tail droop should go away, and he has a 75-80% chance his bladder control issue will be cured as well. I hope the latter is at least significantly improved, since he is a large dog, and he is distressed over making a mess of himself and the house.
When we started into this problem, I looked at Hero and asked him to tell me what he wants to do. He clearly, though depressed and embarrassed about soiling himself and the house, is interested in the critters passing through my property, what the other dogs in the household are doing, chewing on his bones, etc. He clearly hasn't given up, so I feel like I shouldn't give up on him yet, either. I have to give him a chance - he is too good a friend and loyal a protector to not do so!
Keep your fingers crossed for us in the morning! I am staying down in Portland so I can visit him. Hopefully, he will be able to come home Sunday evening.
Thanks again for all the caring notes from my blogland friends! I cannot express how much it means to me.