Author Joe Flynn

Author Joe Flynn poses for a photo with his book, “The Miracle of Bubba,” on Friday.

Joe Flynn was sure he’d have to put his dog down.

The Labrador retriever, Bubba, had been playing fetch in the yard one summer day when he suddenly collapsed. He was 5 years old at the time and had been an athletic, pheasant-hunting dog. In a matter of seconds, Flynn said, Bubba couldn’t move a muscle in his body below his ear.

“I flipped a ball across the lawn and then, all of a sudden, I lost my dog,” Flynn said.

After consulting with a veterinarian, Flynn was certain Bubba wouldn’t survive his mysterious injury.

Flynn, a Bozeman resident, wanted to tell the dog’s story, and wrote a book, “The Miracle of Bubba: An Inspirational Dog Story.” On Saturday, July 27, Flynn will speak and sign books at Country Bookshelf at 4 p.m. The event will include free refreshments and donuts from the M Donut Factory.

The book is a first-person narrative told from the perspective of Bubba. Flynn said he wrote multiple drafts that fell flat before he tried telling the story through Bubba’s eyes.

“The chains came off and it was fun,” Flynn said.

The story begins on the day Flynn picked Bubba up as an 8-week-old puppy in Washington. He was a family dog for Flynn, his wife and their two kids. Bubba came from a long line of hunting dogs, and followed in his parents’ footsteps.

After Bubba collapsed and Flynn got him to an emergency animal hospital, the veterinarian was able to diagnose his condition with an MRI. He had a fibrocartilaginous embolism, the equivalent of a stroke in the spinal cord.

Flynn said he wants his book to not only share an inspiring story, but to educate dog owners about this rare affliction. At the time of Bubba’s incident, little was known about the embolism or if it was recoverable.

Flynn teared up during an interview and said he went to the vet clinic three or four times intending to put Bubba down. But each week, he saw small improvements in the dog’s health and kept Bubba alive.

The recovery was not easy, Flynn said. For weeks, Bubba was motionless on the floor of the vet’s office. Every few hours a vet tech would exercise his limbs so they wouldn’t atrophy. A vet tech built the dog a carriage to wheel him outside for fresh air.

Flynn said it was a stressful time for his family. They weren’t sure if it was the right decision to keep Bubba alive if he was suffering.

It was.

Bubba slowly recovered and lived another seven years after his embolism, and even continued hunting. He passed away in 2013 at 12 years old.

“If anything bad happens to an animal, stick with them and see what they can do,” Flynn said.

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