I'm sorry this is not awesome reading, folks.
I went round to my parents this morning to pick him up and he was just kinda laying around. Then he pepped up a bit and walked himself out to the car and was quite calm for most of the trip (apparently he's spent the majority of his car time panting and trying to escape).
We went through an initial interview with a final year student who was lovely and very understanding, did her best to keep him calm as his nails slid around on the polished metal bench and listened intently to dadsy's description of his background.
The specialist came in and did some more diagnosis and the two of them did a really good job of keeping him calm and then explaining what they were going to do and why.
The things that worried the vet were that his back leg has started to go the way of his front - he tested his legs by moving them from under him. On his good legs, he did what you'd expect a typical dog to do - shift around and try to put his foot down. On his front bad leg he would just sorta fall over, or keep standing on it when the vet bent it back the wrong way. His back leg was halfway between that and normal. Also, one of his eyes is infected - that is new. The legs and the infection and the turning the long way round has the vet pretty confident that it's largely a brain issue.
The way he explained it is like one of those charts where you come to a cross road and go one way or the other. The starting block is checking red and white blood cells (he's not eaten in almost two days and his white cell count is up).
Then they check for poisoning like lead poisoning (which is cumulative and could explain it).
If it's not that then they will check for an infection that could have lead to swelling - the infected eye could point to this if the eye is off the same vein that goes to the part of his brain that seems to have the issue.
If it's not this, they will xray his chest and stomach for primary tumors - if there are multiple tumors then there is not really much we can do for him.
If there are no tumors then they will get an anesthetist in and do an MRI. If there is a primary tumor and it is operable then they will get the only dog brain surgeon in Australia to operate. If it is not operable and not a primary tumor then there is not really much we can do for him.
Obviously I'm hoping it is just some sort of poisoning or an infection and it will all be fine. Or on the other extreme I'm hoping it's an operable thing and that he'll just be in pain for a little bit and then back to his old self again.
But there is always the talk about making the right decision - are we trying to make the dog feel better or ourselves feel better by not having him die.
I would just hate to hear that he had died there alone. Or that he wouldn't be well enough to come home. Or that he's gotten worse and will keep getting worse and there's nothing we can do. Or that he will stay at his current poor level -stumbling, depressed, confused. The vet will be calling at each step to let us know what happens.
They took him out the back while I was getting his blanket out of the car so I didn't get even a quick goodbye.
At least he's in good hands and at least they can get some food into his stomach one way or another, to give him some energy and some strength.
Thanks for the thoughts guys, here's hoping it's all just a blip on the radar.