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In the middle of the night you hear a lot of scrabbling around in the crate. Coz it’s in your bedroom isn’t it, coz you are so worried about them. You leap out of bed and that noise is the cone of shame banging about on the bars of the crate. The dog, that’s just home from surgery, is trying to bury something with her nose, in her blankets. It’s poo! The dog is mortified, because she knows to do that sort of thing outside. And she’s missed the wee pad completely and got it all over the blankets.
So you get the dog out of the crate, get the blankets out of the crate, fling the poo in the loo and the blankets out the back door coz it’s 3am and you are in your jammies. Remake the bed in the crate, replace the wee pad, get some nice clean blankets and pop the dog back in and shut the door. Aaaahhh! You are almost too excited to go back to sleep Coz She’s Done A Poo! but you are also exhausted because it’s all been such an ordeal.
And so it begins. The dog is healing nicely and progressing satisfactorily through her rehab. Because the nerves have been damaged by the herniated disc and are still recovering themselves, the IVDD dog has less control over their bowel movements. They give you the “I want to go out” face, but it’s too late to make it outside coz the poo is already coming and once it’s coming it keeps on coming. In the crate, on the carpet, on the couch!!! How much advance notice you get is all about when the dog becomes aware it’s going to happen, which, in turn, is all about the degree of recovery. I am writing this over 12 months since surgery and successful recovery, but the nerves giving this important advance notice are still a bit lackadaisical about their job. “She’ll be right” they seem to be saying.
I’ve got quite prosaic about poo. As long as she does it, she’s ok. If it’s in the wrong place I just clean it up. I never say anything coz I know the dog knows where she’s supposed to do it and would be happier if she could get there in time. Often I’m picking it up on the way to the back door. She also doesn’t necessarily stay still to do it, but poos on the move! A blob here, a blob there, another blob over there. I try not to snigger – it’s quite a skill!
DISA would like to thank Liz Triggs who is owned by Poppy & Jessie for this enlightening contribution 🙂
By the end of that day Poppy was showing the early signs of IVDD. Jessie tried to sit with her on the couch after dinner, but got growled at and quickly changed chairs. In the morning, she didn’t go for her regular walk, which, next to food, is the most important part of Jessie’s day. She hinted for an hour before giving up, only to be left at home whilst Poppy went out in the car (to the vet).
Later, in the middle of the night, she was devastated at being left behind in the house whilst Poppy went to the specialist for surgery. When I came home alone it was to a very puzzled and clingy girl. Jessie needed lots of extra cuddles that day.
Once Poppy came home, it was obvious to Jess that the crate was the centre of attention. Attention is another one of Jessie’s favourite things. (If you are patting Poppy, you suddenly discover you are patting Jess.) At first she would approach the crate carefully, as Poppy had been quite savage with her when she gave her an enthusiastic welcome home. But each of them quickly adapted to the new normal and soon Jess was working her way into the crate with Poppy.
At first Jessie missed a lot of walks, as I couldn’t leave Poppy home alone in her crate with her cone and her catheter. Then my Mum would come over and Jess wouldn’t stop poking her until she’d take her out. Mum made a huge fuss of Jessie with these walks, making her feel special. After a few weeks I got a pram and Poppy, Jess and I were out together again. I would clip Jessie to the pram and she learned to walk alongside and not to try to chase birds while clipped on! The resumption of our walks had a huge impact on both dogs. Poppy got out after weeks at home and Jess had her regular routine and place in the pack again. We were back to normal.
When it came to Poppy’s “at home” rehab exercises, we gave Jessie special tasks too. To make the exercises bearable for Poppy, we used lots of treats. Jessie’s love of food made this problematic so she had to come, sit, stand on 3 legs and walk up and down the lilo too! So it was 2 engaged dogs, having fun, paying attention, achieving and being rewarded for their (slightly different) efforts, not one.
Being included is the most important thing in your dog’s life, no matter the circumstances they find themselves in. IVDD is a very testing time for everyone, but it can also be an opportunity to strengthen and enhance the relationships in your pack. Recovery, after all, includes everyone.
Thank you Liz Triggs for reminding us all that the IVDD journey includes everyone and how easy it is to overlook “the rest of your pack”.
Step 1 – Select what products you will need >> WHAT WE OFFER
Step 2 – Check closest available location CLICK HERE >> CRATE LOCATIONS AUSTRALIA
Step 3 – Contact DISA to arrange pickup or delivery CLICK HERE >> GET IN TOUCH
Step 4 – Visit DISA Shop and make payment CLICK HERE >> DISA SHOP
$70.00– 36″ metal crate new in box
$105.00– 36″ metal crate new in box PLUS a K9 Crate pad Size4 (15mm dense, supportive, non-absorbing foam centre for comfort that is recommended for use in a crate. It is manufactured with an attractive black durable zippered removable nylon/polyester cover)
An optional extra, put together from the advice of those who have sadly had to deal with a dachshund that goes down.
SE QLD – $75.00 (Post only)
VIC – $85.00 (Pickup Only)
WA – $70.00 (Pickup Only)
Aussie Dog Wheelchairs (canine carts) are Australian made and owned.
They are also a perfect solution to assist your dog after spinal surgery to encourage rehabilitation if you are not able to access a Canine Rehabilitation Facility or an Animal Physiotherapist.
Aussie Dog Wheelchairs are light weight and have ‘All Terrain’ wheels especially designed for our Aussie environment and lifestyle.
One size does not fit all. Each dog is different, so care and attention is given to every wheelchair we make.
Aussie Dog Wheelchairs are made of a strong aluminum frame with stainless steel fittings. They are extremely light weight and durable. The saddle can be designed for male and female dogs and comes with a contouring stable pelvic support system which is fully adjustable. Aussie Dog Wheelchairs are also height, length and width adjustable
To find out more about Aussie Dog Wheelchairs click here
The GingerLead is a premium dog support sling with an integrated leash & handle to help dogs with weak hind legs walk. Ideal for assisting dogs with the recovery and rehabilitation after back, hip or knee injuries or orthopedic surgeries. Great for Dachshunds with IVDD!
GingerLeads also help aging or disabled dogs needing some help with their mobility or balance, dogs with arthritis, degenerative myelopathy or other debilitating conditions. Available in sizes for toy to giant breed dogs. Adjustable for height and machine washable. Made in USA.
Visit www.gingerlead.com to learn more about our dog slings and a Golden Retriever named Ginger who was the inspiration for the GingerLead.
All volunteers of DISA are required to be officially sanctioned and are entitled to voting rights on future decisions and directions of DISA. This is also a requirement for Public Liability purposes.
Click DISA Membership Application to download a current Membership Form.
Once completed, save and send it to email@example.com
DISA is always on the look-out for likeminded dachshund lovers, ready and willing to support the IVDD cause. Why not contact us today!
You might wonder how you can assist us, and let us tell you, there are so many ways and the list below is not exhaustive!
We need volunteers to assist in these areas:-
We at DISA are aware of just how many organisations around Australia are in the same position, where sourcing funding is criticalWe therefore aim to keep our fundraising efforts within the bounds of everyday people going about their everyday lives. Though we know, those of us with dachshunds affected by IVDD, no longer have everyday lives.
We have listed our current fundraising efforts, with corresponding links, and we invite you to check them out.
Badger Dog Wine Fundraiser
Please know, we appreciate your donation, as it will assist DISA in its journey with like-minded organisations from across the globe, with the ultimate aim of being able to contribute towards research in helping to find a cure for IVDD.
In order to help you make a donation please click on the link below
It is widely acknowledged that economic times are tough and the need for not for profit and community groups is on the rise. With this increase in demand for your services, costs such as insurance are on the rise placing an even tighter strain on your budgets.
Whether it be cover for association liability; motor vehicles; professional indemnity, public liability, voluntary workers cover, workers compensation, or office equipment we have you covered.
Australia’s number one hub for starting and working with Charities and Not-For-Profits in Australia. At the Been Accounting Institute, we can help you put together a user friendly system for keeping up to date and accurate with your Charity and Not-For-Profit business records.
All the team here at the Been Accounting Institute have a great love for our own animals and certainly appreciate the wonderful work all pet rescue groups do.
We are here to help you educate members of the public on all aspects of responsible pet ownership, needs of specific wildlife species, and any other message that needs voicing.
We will also assist your members in gaining educational qualifications relevant to the work your organisation carries out.
Been Accounting Institute
Haute Dog Design Co is a brand’s best friend … and one of DISA’s best friends too!
Andrea, Haute Dog’s ‘top dog’, is an art director + designer who loves letterpress, paper and type, beautiful print, clever thinking, cake and as you may have guessed, dachshunds. With 13+ years of experience, Haute Dog Design Co has been designing collateral for DISA’s brand going on three years now.
Haute Dog can craft creative work to your needs, while working to a budget that realisitically suits the end product required. If your business is in need of creative assistance with branding, advertising and campaign work; website, social media and online creative, and; your day-to-day marketing collateral; Haute Dog can help you achieve the desired creative results and design material.
If you value and appreciate working with a creative who knows the ins and outs of ‘haute’ design, get in touch to chat about the possibility of working together … and of course, your dachshund!
Haute Dog Design Co Website
When we’re not creating breathtaking designs and kick-ass websites, we love nothing more than taking Dachboard Design’s poster girl, Piccolo to the beach and making the most of everything beautiful Sunshine Coast has to offer.
This year, our mascot Piccolo was admitted for emergency surgery as a Category 4 IVDD patient. By total chance, Chrissy Davis, DISA inc president, was at the surgery that same morning. She has since been a lifeline to which we are… and always will be… eternally grateful for.
As token of appreciation, Chole Tremble donated time and website development services to assist in bringing this informative website to life! As the site went live, Piccolo was still in rehabilitation and taking it easy. Any great design team needs a great mascot to entertain clients, but crate rest has also brought a calm vibe to the otherwise busy studio. She is a constant companion to Chole with a passion for food (we are on a diet see here) and is also now enjoying being chauffeured around in a garden trolley, lovingly by her owners.
Just shy of 3 months post op… we have good days and bad days and some days… it just really comforting knowing that there is an entire community our loving pet owners that are in the same situation. Piccolo is not only our poster girl and the namesake of our little agency, but an integral part of our family. We would do and are doing everything that we can for her recovery… we are pleased we were able to play a small role in helping communicate and educating other dog owners about IVDD.
Piccolo aka Piccle for short, aspires to take on the role of top dog of the studio one day soon; we’ll keep you posted on her career development.
The Dachshund Spine book contains important information owners and breeders should know about dachshund back health.
Rose-Hip Vital® Canine is 100% plant-based. It’s made from rosehips grown and manufactured in Denmark with patented extraction and drying processes. These unique processes isolate and activate a particular fatty acid (glycoside of mono and diglycerol) called GOPO® which has clinically proven anti-inflammatory properties.
The same unique processes preserve and concentrate the 23 naturally occurring minerals and 8 vitamins (headed by vitamin C) resulting in a bright orange powder which is a rich source of natural vitamin C and powerful antioxidant. Rose-Hip Vital is a 100% natural plant-based clinically proven non swabbable anti-inflammatory AND immune system support used to treat inflammation, maintain healthy joints, supplement nutrition and improve performance. Rosehip products that do not contain GOPO® have not been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
To read feedback specific to back and IVDD use, please click here:
To read feedback specific to skin conditions and allergies, please : click here
To read feedback specific to prevention, please click here:
While the most popular uses of Rose-Hip Vital Canine are for joint problems and skin conditions, it offers many other health benefits including improved kidney function and cardiovascular health, and the lowering of blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
The dosage for Rose-Hip Vital® Canine is based on weight. There is a loading dose for the first 3 weeks followed by a maintenance dose. It is normally towards the end of the first 3 weeks you should start to see improvements in your dachshund. If your dachshund weighs under 7.5kg, you can cut the dosage for dogs under 15kg in half. The more your dog has the better and any excess is naturally excreted. If your dog has had an episode of IVDD, surgery, is under going rehab or needs the extra support we recommend they stay on the loading dose for longer to help aid further in their recovery. For further dosage details, please click here:
Dachshunds seem to love the taste of Rose-Hip Vital® Canine. However if you have a fussy dachshund or a dachshund with a sensitive tummy we recommend you start slow (such as a sprinkle) and gradually build up over the period of a week or two to ensure tolerance. Once you are on the full recommended loading dose for your dachshund’s weight, you would start to count the initial 3 week loading dose period. You can mix Rose-Hip Vital® Canine into raw mince, wet food, coconut oil, tuna, salmon, sardines, raw mince, whisked egg, cooled chicken stock, lactose free milk, low fat Greek yoghurt or other foods your dachshund likes. Please do not mix into food hot or liquid as heat can ruin the effective of the product.
To find either a local or online stockist that suits you, please click here
Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and Instagram
For further questions please call our toll free advisory line on 1800 851 888 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
K9 Back Pack is a volunteer-operated group of dachshund owners providing information and education about Canine Intervertebral Disease (IVDD), compassionate one-on-one owner support for IVDD, along with general education on canine health, nutrition, and training.
Our primary mission is to help owners and dogs through IVDD recovery and prevent euthanasia in paralyzed dogs who might otherwise recover with coordination of medication, crate rest and guided physical therapy, while offering emotional support to dog owners.
K9 Backpack Facebook Page
Linda Stowe created Dodgerslist because of a Dachshund named Dodger. Dodger had IVDD and was euthanized because of the lack of knowledge that conservative treatment IS a viable treatment option. When she heard of this sad story, she immediately went to work to create Dodgerslist with one goal in mind – save dogs’ lives!
Dodgerslist is based in the US and provides a wealth of knowledge and information for all things IVDD.
Andrea had always heard that dachshunds were susceptible to back problems and in 2013 she learned first-hand how serious these said back problems could be when her dog, Vader, ruptured a disc in his lower back. Vader’s disc rupture was so severe, his surgeon wasn’t convinced that surgery would be successful, claiming it was one of the worst ruptures he had come across. Thankfully, the surgeon worked a miracle and Vader regained the use of his back legs. Once he returned home, Vader started a physio regime (including reiki, gentle massage and acupuncture) with a brilliant and fully qualified animal chiropractic/mobility vet that had a very positive and dramatic effect on his rehabilitation and recovery.
Three years later, if it wasn’t for the scar in his back, most people wouldn’t realise Vader had a back problem. Andrea became involved with DISA to assist Aussie-based dog owners with understanding and coping with IVDD. When Vader became paralysed, Andrea found it difficult to find Australian-based information on the disease, so when DISA was born, Andrea understood how important it was to share what she had learned from Vader’s surgery and rehabilitation and to raise awareness of IVDD and the methods available to owners within the dachshund community.
A graphic designer, Andrea has helped bring DISA to life with the creation of the DISA logo, branding and marketing collateral. It’s safe to say that Andrea is very passionate about dachshunds and helping to ensure that dachshund owners are aware and ready to help their dogs if they develop a back problem.
“Working for the benefit of dachshunds and their owners”
In 2007, all 19 UK Dachshund Breed Clubs agreed to form a Breed Council and work together for the good of the breed.
The Breed Council was set up to continue, and advance, the work of the UK Dachshund Forum which had been in existence for 10 years. The Forum was set up initially to allow Dachshund Breed Clubs to coordinate Show Dates and Judging Lists. The work of the Forum was developed to look at Health and Welfare issues, Judges’ Education and other matters relevant to the breed.
Dachshund Health information
Dachshund Breed Council UK IVDD
Wendell is a 6 year old red mini short haired dachshund who came to our home at age 18 months. When he arrived he was extremely overweight, with rub marks under his forelegs as he hadn’t been exercised or socialised well. He had anxiety and aggression issues, but has settled in well with our first dog Norbert who he adores.
We worried about Wendell’s back from the beginning because of his weight, but we got him gradually fitter and healthier and he always seemed to be doing ok.
This all changed in May 2016 when he began giving a little cry when we picked him up or when he went over a door threshold, or he would refuse to walk. One day he stood and shook and cried if we touched him, and knowing this was a bad sign we rushed him to the vet.
He had painkillers, and the vet assessed him as Grade 1, so we rested him for eight weeks, gave him anti-inflammatories and tramadol and waited to see if he improved. Because of the low grade injury we felt we had time to see how he would go, and it gave us the opportunity to talk about what would be best for our dog.
As a highly anxious and reactive dog, we decided that surgery was not a good option. He shakes and pants with the stress of a regular visit to the vets, has tried to bite vets in the past, and we felt that leaving him there for surgery and recovery would be extremely stressful for him.
He recuperated well, and over two months we gradually increased his walking, built him a ramp for the doggy door, and returned to normal life.
Then in September he suddenly got worse again. There was no particular incident that we saw but he went out one night to the toilet and lost the use of his hind legs. We immediately restarted the anti-inflammatories and took him to the vet the next day.
Because the decision not to operate had been made calmly and not under fear and stress, we knew we needed to trust our decision, so we stuck with that, and the vets and vet nurses were very supportive. They taught us to express Wendell’s bladder and advised us on some basic massage and movement exercises to help him.
We re-crated Wendell and it is now eight weeks, he has use of his legs and bladder, although he is very wobbly so needs a sling for support still to walk.
The hardest aspect is keeping him busy without him gaining weight. We use slow feeding toys, long chew toys and he gets moved around the house and yard in his ‘mobile crate’ which is a pet stroller.
He is happiest when he is near us and feels he is a part of what’s going on in the house. Sometimes he shares the garden with his IVDD buddy Milo.
He has wheels which he is in the process of learning how to use, he is having hydrotherapy rehab and Scenar treatment and he remains a content dog with great quality of life and is a central member of our family.
Growing up my family always had rescue dogs; the only Dachshund I knew was a very snarly girl down the street, she would have taken your hand off if you looked at her. That did not stop me admiring the breed, after moving out of the family home, I had a few rescue dogs which I loved dearly, but the dream of a dachshund was still around. In December 2001 I rescued a beautiful little boy, he was not a dachshund but a toy poodle cross schnauzer, but he stole my heart. When I rescued him, he was living in a small concrete courtyard, scrounging for any food he could find, with dreadlocks to the ground of mattered hair from not being groomed or properly cared for; but he was the gentlest soul and so the dream of owning a Dachshund was shelved as having 3 dogs was already enough. Over the next 13 years, this little boy was my soul mate ever by my side, first to greet me at the door and even as his little friends passed, he was by my side to make sure I was ok. Then in December 2014 one day after his 16th birthday, he lost the use of his back legs. After a long discussion with my partner and the vet, we decided it was time to let him run free over the rainbow bridge, I was devastated. When my partner and I were away on Holidays in Thailand with friends, we meet a beautiful standard Black and Tan Dachshund named Cooper and the love affair began again. Having always had rescues I had no idea about how to go about finding a Dachshund, so to the internet I went. I found details of puppies for sale that as I inquired I could tell they were scams, so I stayed well away. Then I came across a litter, I made a call and a little Black and Tan girl was available, or I placed a holding deposit; when she was ready, into the car I jumped and drove down to collect her. She was beautiful and came straight to me and into my arms, it was truly love at first sight. After bringing her home and introducing her to my partner’s Beagle and my partner, our family felt whole again. My heart still longed for my lost boy, but I was in love and happy again, it was meant to be. I then joined a number of Facebook groups focused on Dachshunds, and that’s when I became part of the I Love Dachshunds Melbourne community and what a community it is, always available to answer questions, to support you if you have problems and of course educate you about medical concerns with the breed. From this group I learnt about IVDD, and although this was most likely not what had affected my little soul mate, it was close to my heart and I was shocked that this disease was so prominent in the breed. My little girl Lexi was in my life, so it was time to educate myself as much as I could so to DISA I went. What a wealth of information they had on their support group, and again, caring owners from around Australia helping those effected by the disease. I knew I had to help if they needed it. As I worked in IT why not offer to help with at least the basics of getting the website up. So I offered assistance to Helga, who introduced me to Chrissy and away I went to start helping, but the website was not the first thing. First a group of us in Melbourne decided to host a fundraiser so the Dachshund Family Fun Day in Donvale was born. What a day it was, with so many Melbourne owners from all parts attended; over 100 people, between the Fancy dress dog competition to the fun of the Dachshund race it was a major success and raised sufficient funds to help DISA move into the future. Expansion of the Crate program into QLD, Incorporation and more. It was at this point I was asked to join the committee of management and how could I refuse, I was appointed Treasurer so along with my role of Website Administrator, I’m in deep and loving it.
My passion for dachshunds first began many years ago as a young adult when a friend of mine used to have them. I pretty much fell in love and, well, the rest is history. Now I am currently owned by two adorable miniature dachshunds who are British born and bred Lottie and Duke aka ‘The Royals’. However, I got my first dachshund Schultz in 2000. A very regal short haired standard red. In 2007 he went down to IVDD. He was rushed to the vet and had surgery the very same day and went on to make a full recovery. He sadly passed over the bridge in March 2015 just shy of 15 due to old age.
While I lived in the UK I became involved with the dachshund community. In 2012 my little Lottie, then aged 4 1/2 years-old developed rectal lymphoma. She went through surgery and then gruelling intense chemotherapy to follow. We never knew if she would make it or not, but given she was still young and under veterinary advice we gave it our best shot with treatment and we are so glad we did. She is now 8 1/2 years old and still here to tell the story. Miracles do happen.
After Lottie’s successful treatment I then organised a huge event in London to support canine cancer and help raise funds for the dedicated Dachshund Breed Council in the UK. It was after this event I was approached to come on board as a Pet Advisor for the UK Breed Council. I was extremely grateful for this opportunity, as I was then able to go on and learn and work alongside specialist veterinarians in the UK whom were looking into diseases in dachshunds in conjunction with the Breed Council. Not surprisingly IVDD was one of those diseases that was and still is, being heavily researched. With my combined nursing background, my extreme passion for dachshunds and having myself had a dog gone down to IVDD, this was certainly something right up my alley. I too found myself enthralled in wanting to help find a cure.
In 2014 my husband and I, with our two mini dachshunds Lottie and Duke, emigrated from the UK to Australia. It was after I landed here in Australia I was approached by the founder of DISA, Chrissy Davis, to see if I would be interested in helping out with DISA on the Facebook group page. I was extremely delighted and took up her offer. It was a great way for me to continue my passion about IVDD, as well as helping others in need. I am also very grateful, as I have continued in my role as the Australian ambassador for the UK Dachshund Breed Council, I am still kept up to date with ongoing research around IVDD. For those who don’t know, the UK Breed Council are the leaders in all things dachshunds, and all health matters regarding dachshunds. It’s been wonderful to be able to continue this positive relationship, and be able to assist in getting the up to date research first hand into Australia for dachshund owners.
I love being part of DISA and have so far been able to help many dachshund owners who find themselves on this dreaded journey. But together we all get there and it’s so rewarding seeing our brave and determined dachshunds get back up on all four paws again.
My love affair with dachshunds started 30 years ago after watching them being judged at the Royal Melbourne Show. It was there that I met a breeder who sensed I was smitten; as I walked away she said “If you want a dog that can jump and run for miles and doesn’t break, get yourself a cattle dog, but if you want a dog that will love you unconditionally and melt your heart, get yourself a dachshund”. I never really understood what she meant until 2 years later when my love affair became a reality, but more importantly, until one of my dachshunds “broke” on the 20th June 2013.
Denton was one day past his 13th birthday, when he wandered through the doggy door, yelped and stopped, motionless on the carpeted ramp on the other side. I had noticed some symptoms for 6 months or so, in fact, I had visited 2 vets and was told “He is old, he has arthritis”. I believed them because you always believe your vet right?
IVDD is a 4 letter word every dachshund owner should be aware of and the analogy, I wish I knew then what I know now, resonates loud and clear. The ensuing days and weeks are now a blur, but somewhere in the midst of my brain freeze I was guided and helped by some truly wonderful friends, dachshund Facebook friends and professionals.
Of course, being an A type personality, it was non-negotiable that my wing man was going to remain paralysed. So I researched, read, watched and Googled every imaginable article and video about IVDD, conservative treatment and alternative therapies. Two days after he went down we commenced regular acupuncture and physio, and somewhere in a sleep deprived (or was that wine induced?) moment I even started a Facebook Support Group! 23 days later he stood up and wobbly walked, it was worth every minute but seriously not for the faint hearted.
Even though Denton has now passed, he lives with me every day as his legacy is DISA. My dream is that one day a cure or a solution is found for this insidious disease which affects so many dachshunds and causes untold grief, both emotionally and financially, for their families.
DISA was once a small idea which has now has grown into recognised and respected education and support platform moderated and managed by a fantastic team. I am proud that DISA was born from a need in a sleep deprived moment, and I trust “We’ve got your back” until such time as there is no four letter word called “IVDD”.
It was a total surprise to get home from work and find Leonard dragging himself over to greet me at the back door. I’d had a long day and I couldn’t believe that something else could go wrong. Although I knew about IVDD, I didn’t know enough to recognise it straight away, especially as our dogs had always passed their vet checks, including a feel of their spines. But I knew that something was seriously wrong so I called the After Hours Vets and took him in. After examining Leonard, the vet came out and said ‘’Have you got pet insurance?” She explained that she thought Leonard had a damaged spine and that he needs to be seen by a specialist – SASH in Sydney – as soon as possible.
So off we went, with our other dog Penny tagging along, to arrive at SASH around midnight. They checked Leonard and found that he had only the barest deep pain sensation. Such tough little dogs that don’t let on that they feel pain, his response was a little flicker of the eyes. Leonard had surgery first thing the next morning. I couldn’t stay as I had to come home to take my husband home from hospital. My husband was so happy to see me there to collect him, so I agonised over how I was going to tell him that one of his best friends was having surgery. The long wait during his surgery finally ended and Leonard was awake and winning over the hearts of all the nurses.
Over the next week or so, we checked in for updates and visited Leonard every few days. He seemed so fragile, but he was getting well looked after and lots of monitoring, treatments and massages. We watched eagerly for any tiny movement – the twitch of a muscle, a slight movement of the tail. The surgeon thought that he would probably walk again, but it was going to be a slow recovery.
Eventually, Leonard could come home and continue to recover. The biggest challenge was getting his bladder empty. I tried everything I had been shown but it still took about a week to find the right spot to squeeze! Luckily, the local vet 2 minutes away would help out each day.
Those first few weeks he was confined to a small area and was NOT impressed but it was important to let his back heal. The pen had to be padlocked as he worked out how to open it. But the one thing he did love was the cuddle time he got when he did his stretches and massages.
Since those early days, Leonard slowly improved. Most of the time it has been a burst of improvement and then a plateau or a small step backwards. He does exercises most days, hydrotherapy on a water treadmill each week, and gets a massage every night.
After about 8 months, we realised that it was going to be a long time before Leonard could walk on his own, if ever. The weaknesses in his muscles from paralysis made it hard to balance, and to take steps in the right direction.
Up until then, when we took him out, we had him in a pram loaned to us from some local dachshund owners. His normal doggy instincts were still just as strong, so he would be trying to get out so he could sniff and check out places, the best part of walks. He also had to drag himself to move around the house, which rubbed his skin and was hard on the rest of his body.
We started looking into the idea of getting a set of wheels for him. Some guardian angels from DISA offered to purchase Leonard’s wheels. and before we knew it Leonard had freedom on the horizon!
He wasn’t too sure at first, but eventually he got used to the idea. Being back up fully horizontal also seemed to remind his brain again to make walking movements with his back legs. Once he got moving in his wheels, he has never looked back. It’s amazing to see him take off chasing something in the yard, turning corners up on one wheel, or going for a walk with a ‘smile’ on his face and tail wagging, out in front waiting for his fur sister to catch up.
It’s not all plain sailing. We have to constantly watch out for raw spots on his feet from dragging them on things (he can’t use the wheels all day or unsupervised). Although he has some toileting control, it can be a bit hit and miss. And the therapy adds up in dollars and time. However, we have good support – family and friends to look in on him while I’m at work, a great hydrotherapy service (shout out to Jade and the girls at Erina Heights Vets), the wider dachshund and dog community, and DISA.
But over two years since that day, Leonard’s life is pretty good. He doesn’t see himself as a ‘disabled’ dog. He still tells off other dogs that he doesn’t like the look of. He still hunts skinks in the yard. He’s not in any pain. He still looks out for the rest of the family. And he gets around whichever way works. We can learn a lot about how to live our lives from Leonard!
On the 21st of March 2016 my partner and I took our bambino Snickers out for a walk with his big sister, Sally the labradoodle, after a long day spent moving house. The walk went as per usual, he sniffed, barked, tried to chase a few people and we carried on home. As soon as we got home Snickers (AKA Snicky) went into his sleeping bag and burrowed deep (as most sausages do) while my partner and I spent about 2 or so hours watching TV. When it was time to do the bed routine, such as a drink then toilet before nodding off for the night, I noticed something different in Snicky. I saw he was struggling to walk using his back legs, and he was looking rather ‘drunk’! My heart started to race, as I knew the nightmare all dachshund owners have was coming true – my boy was suffering from IVDD!
Without waiting even a second I was on the phone to the Canberra Emergency Vet, where I was advised to bring Snicky straight in, given the risks associated with his breed. After speeding from one side of Canberra to the other, we were able to get Snicky in to see an after-hours vet just after midnight, on the night of this IVDD episode. The vet confirmed our nightmare was real, and advised Snickers was a stage three. However further examinations during business hours, would no doubt increase Snicky’s rating – where he was later categorised as a 4 to 5! I was completely devastated! The little naughty monster, I had since he was a pup, would need major surgery! My partner was trying to calm me down as I was falling apart. Not only was Snickers going to be in a strange vet hospital overnight, doped up on drugs away from his family, I knew based on all the stories I had heard, that a long and painful road to recovery was ahead of him.
The next morning I was phoned by the emergency vet, where I agreed to proceed with surgery. In less than 24 hours since the initial episode, surgery was completed. Later in the same afternoon, the vet gave the all clear for a visit and suggested that we bring one of Snicky’s toys, so he had something from home to keep him comfortable. After we had rushed back to the other side of Canberra for a visit, the vets brought Snicky out, where he was more than just a little pleased to see his pawrents – he was over the moon and full of kisses! However, after taking one look at Snicky, I knew the dog I had had for the last 5 and a half years was going to be a different dog….
After getting over the initial shock of the huge bandage on Snicky’s back, and seeing him fail to move his back legs even slightly, we caught up properly with him and gave him his favourite toy – his girlfriend ‘Rat’ (featured below).
After one more night at the vet Snicky was given the all clear to come home – where I had arranged to take the day off from work to organise his crate, favourite treats and clean bedding and blankets. I thought the surgery was the tough part, however nothing braced Snicky and I for what the yet to come – the crate rest!
Initially Snicky took to his crate well, as he was really tired and still recovering from the meds the vet gave him. As the first weekend passed since his operation, all appeared to be going smoothly – until we had to head back to work. To keep an eye on Snicky whilst we were at work, I downloaded an app to watch him at home in his crate via my iPad and iPhone (Dog Monitor – brilliant app!). As soon as I touched down at my desk, I looked at the dog monitor to check on my baby. I was soon completely heartbroken – Snicky was in his crate howling and tearing everything in it apart!
I was immediately on the road again heading home, and as soon as I walked back in the house, Snicky was shivering, crying and still trying to bust through those bars! I immediately took him out of the crate, where he hugged up to me as best he could and wouldn’t let go. It was from that very moment we knew the next few weeks ahead were going to be purely about Snicky’s recovery, and both my partner and I needed to take a step back from our daily routine and focus solely on getting him better. We didn’t even need to think about the next few decisions, given that we owed it to Snickers to be there for him and make the months ahead as painless as possible. We arranged with our work places to work half days, and ‘tag team’ between morning and afternoon shifts, to ensure someone was home with Snicky at all times. This work arrangement continued for the next 5 or so weeks.
I was worried when we hit the four-week mark and Snicky still wasn’t walking. One afternoon, whilst Snicky was in his crate I was vacuuming the house and all of a sudden we hit a milestone. Before the accident Snicky hated the vacuum the most out of anything in life, and would often attack and run after it. Now that he was crate rested, I didn’t think it would be an issue. However, as soon as I started vacuuming around Snicky’s crate, he was up on all his legs barking and running around the very limited room he had in his crate – he was walking! And so I turned the vacuum off, took Snicky outside and he walked some more. He was still very wonky, and would fall over, however it was the most progress he made since the day before the operation! After receiving the OK from the vet, I started taking Snicky on small five minute walks up the hallway of our complex, which he managed quite well. I was also given the green light to start hydrotherapy twice a week, which helped Snicky gain the muscle strength he lost in his back legs.
After six weeks of STRICT crate rest, and a routine of physiotherapy and hydro, it was time to lift Snicky’s crate restrictions, much to his (and our) delight! For any dachshund owner, it’s important to note that easing up on the crate doesn’t mean its fine to return to life before IVDD. There was a new normal that Snicky and I needed to get used to. A new normal that banned jumping completely, didn’t involve ‘rough’ playtime, and only allowed him time with our other dog under supervision, to avoid any further accidents. To date, over five months from the accident, Snicky is still a bit wobbly; however this is a small price we’ve had to pay in order to return him back to his doggy life.
Between driving all over Canberra, spending thousands of dollars at vets and on alternative treatments, Snicky was given the all clear by his surgeon. Not only was this the most welcomed news, but it was a sign that never giving up got Snickers through one of the most traumatic events a small dog can ever go through!
In the last five months there were plenty of tears and tantrums and points where I thought I would need a wheelchair for Snicky. Even though Snicky adapted to his situation rather well, it was still heart-breaking to be faced with the possibility that he would never be the same. My advice to any dachshund owner going through this would be to NEVER give up. Each dog recovers differently from IVDD – some take weeks, some take months, some longer. No matter how disheartened you and your little babies feel at times, just hang in there! The dachshund is a small but determined breed that will go on just fine, with or without wheels, for their back legs.
As I sit here and finish writing this story, Snicky sleeps deep inside his sleeping bag after a long walk to our local oval and nature reserve. To him, life after IVDD might be different, but its still full of treats, barking, sleeping, walking, treats, drives, visits to my parents down the coast, oh and did I say treats?
Growing up with dachshunds as a young girl, they always had a special place in my heart and Madeline was my first very own sausage! I remember driving hours one weekend to pick her up. We had the pick of the litter; 8 little tan short haired dachshunds greeted us at the door, Maddie come running up and did a little piddle on my foot, I said to dad, I want her!!!! The most spoilt little girl of the house hold and that started off my obsession with dachshunds, now owning 5!!!!
Early one morning I was out walking the snags before work, a morning ritual. Maddie chased after a pine cone I had thrown for her, when suddenly she made a yelp. I ran over to see what was wrong as she was limping on her right back leg, I thought maybe she had stepped on something. Checked her from head to toe, couldn’t see anything and she wasn’t yelping from any pain. She just trotted off, like normal, back home.
I headed off to work and returned home later on that afternoon, everyone greeted me at the front door, but Maddie. She is always the first to greet me, so I knew straight away something was wrong! As I walked inside I noticed her dragging her right leg. Straight away I knew the signs where not great, and she needed to see a vet as soon as possible. I contacted my local vet, explained the situation and he said take her straight to emergency in Werribee.
Of course, being a Friday night at 5pm, I had a feeling they would be busy, and thought it may be difficult for me to see a vet straight away, so my local vet phoned them while I was on my way to Werribee.
Thankfully we were able to go straight though when we arrived and be seen by two wonderful vets, who each dealt with dachshunds going down with IVDD on a daily basis.
I was so emotional, expecting the worse outcome, as I knew many stories about dachshunds going down with IVDD. Thankfully my dad was there with me, and I also had the whole dachshund community with me every step of the way!
Maddie underwent examinations and tests, resulting in a diagnoses of level 3, of which the vets said, she was closer to a level 4. They explained everything with much detail, and also gave us a couple of options; one being for Maddie to have an MRI the next morning, and she was to stay at the vets during the night.
Due to her deteriorating to level 4, we opted for her to have the MRI, and if surgery was needed, we would give the go ahead!
My snags are my babies, so I would give up my life to save their lives!
After a terrible sleepless night, we received that dreaded call the next morning, when we were informed that Maddie was now at a level 4. She was currently undergoing the MRI and if we could give consent about the go ahead of surgery if needed. Of course, whatever was required, we gave the consent. After 6 long hours we received the call informing us Maddie was in recovery; the operation took longer than expected, but all went well. She had damaged her T1 and T2, and a disc was applying pressure on her right hip, which resulted in her being paralysed on her right side. They were very glad they had operated, as her spine wasn’t a healthy colour and she was deteriorating quickly.
Due to her anxiety, I opted not to visit for the next few days. I wanted her to rest and the saying goodbye part was just too hard for me! I rang every morning and night to check on her.
Finally, three days later she was ready to come home! So thankful to the wonderful Helga and the beautiful IVDD group, I was all ready for her to arrive home. I was given a wonderful and helpful IVDD pack, and a crate to hire! At times it was so much stress and worry, but having so many helpful people behind me, was an incredible help and I knew I would have everything I needed, ready for her to come home.
All the silly questions I asked the IVDD group were answered and I was given so many wonderful helpful tips to help Maddie during her recovery. The first few days after Maddie arrived home, I never thought she would walk again. She cried and cried, which was just heart-breaking!
Day 5 was amazing, she wagged her tail for the first time since surgery; tears of joy filled my eyes, as I never thought she would wag her tail again! Each day she improved more and more. She was sent home with some exercises and on day 14, visited her two surgeons at Werribee vets and they said her improvement was incredible; “give her another week and we can slowing start rehabilitation with her”.
She had many sessions of acupuncture, warm bath swims, stretching exercises and the massages she received from us. She improved more and more every day, and also started using her right leg a lot more!
It has now been 4 months and Maddie is healthy and happy, fully mobile, with the occasional IVDD skip.
I am ever so grateful to the wonderful IVDD Facebook group. Their stories, constant support and helpful tips made the whole experience of Maddie going down with IVDD reassuring, and I’m truly thankful of being involved with such an incredible and wonderful group of people!
Sharing my story of hope with other dachshund owners, I hope gives a glimpse of hope. During such a horrible and heartbreaking time, seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, is something I went through myself with Maddie; but I know one thing. These beautiful dachshunds are strong and have a heart of gold, they will give their all and will surprise you during the most heartbreaking experiences!
Eryn and Madeline xx
Our encounter with IVDD started with a Yelp! It was the Friday evening of Mother’s Day weekend 2015. I picked Poppy up to put her in the car and she yelped. Oh no. Saturday morning we were at the vet who confirmed it was her back and gave her pain killers and advised keeping her quiet. But, through the day, she didn’t seem to be getting better, in fact, she got worse and worse. At bedtime I thought “We’ll be back at the vet in the morning”, but hoped she would benefit from some sleep. By 2 am Sunday morning (Mother’s Day) Poppy’s back legs had lost function and she was in clear pain. I knew I had to move fast. I rang the after-hours number for the vet and met him at 3am for a very serious discussion.
Having attended a lecture on IVDD by Dr. Charles Kuntz of Southpaws in February of 2015, I already had an idea of what IVDD was and what could be done to remedy the damage. Also, an idea of what it would cost if surgery were required. But the most important thing I learned was that IVDD is a TREATABLE condition with a very good outcome for the dog. So that really took away my thought that if my dog had it, then that was the end. IVDD became a solvable problem.
So when, in May, my vet suggested surgery, I had made the decision ahead of him and said Yes. By 4am we were at Southpaws Specialty Surgery.
Surgery was Poppy’s only option. Crate rest was not for her as things were too bad. She had no deep pain and, going into surgery, she had a 50% chance of walking again. The surgery went very well and she had deep pain when she woke up, greatly increasing her chances. She came home the next day with a cone on her head, and a catheter at the other end, and a very large piece of sticking plaster in the middle. She was so relieved to see me.
In between I had been busy. Thanks to an excellent friend who had been through IVDD with her dog, I had a crate, some wee pads, a water bowl, some blankets and most of the things I would need to look after Poppy in her crate. We were also given some Rosehip Vital in a lovely care package from the Pay It Forward scheme.
Poppy could support herself with one back leg after 2 weeks (so the catheter could come out) but it took ages for the other leg to start to function again. We went to hydrotherapy to build up her muscles and this was terrific. The team at Dogs In Motion Canine Rehabilitation were brilliant, carefully staging the sessions so that Poppy could handle the work. We had ‘at home’ exercises to do every day also and began to go for small walks, using the sling to support the back end. Bit by bit she healed and began to improve.
IVDD in your dog is a terrible event to witness, and the more you know about it before onset the better. You need to recognise the symptoms and react quickly in getting experienced veterinary help. Delay makes recovery longer and less certain.
Recovery is all about your Team. Our Team was the Surgeons, the Rehab, the Friends who supplied the crate, the pram to get her out and sniffing, the words of wisdom and kindness (and the chocolate), my Mum and the Community of people of the DISA Facebook page with their stories and experiences and confidence that things would improve. The overwhelming fear at the beginning gave way to the “new normal” routine, which leads to the recovered dog, whatever that recovery is, in whatever time that takes.
Poppy is now walking and running and pain free. She is cheeky and naughty and bright. Her left hind leg functions but is still affected (15 months later) and probably will always be weaker. We now have a ramp and non- slip floor coverings. There are also still small improvements. She can now trot for quite a distance, before breaking into a bunny hopping canter. She is fit and healthy. She barks at everything. Thanks to our Team.
My name is Lynne and I wanted to share my IVDD story with you all, in the hope that it can give you some hope and inspiration on your path through the tough journey. My boy’s name is Frank and he is a smooth haired miniature and he was 4 and 1/2 when he went down.
It was Saturday 19th March 2016 that I first noticed he wasn’t himself. He seemed very swollen in the mid region and couldn’t get up onto anything. He didn’t seem like he was in pain, and I thought he may be constipated. I took him straight to the vet, where they checked him over and found nothing. Monday morning he wasn’t himself at all, so I took him back again to the vet, where they said they will keep him in for the day and do x-rays and blood tests. I went back that afternoon to get results; they found nothing at all. I put him on the floor to walk out and that’s where it was the first sign of the “drunk walk”. My heart just broke and I asked the vet why he is walking like this. She panicked and said he was not like that all day. She referred me straight away to either South Paws or Werribee Hospital. When I got home I called Southpaws straight away, but they couldn’t see me till the Wed, so I panicked and took him to Werribee as I wanted an answer straight away.
I had absolutely no idea what I was dealing with and felt lost. He spent the next 2 nights there, where they did an MRI and he was diagnosed with IVDD. I was given the option of conservative treatment or surgery, and was so upset and confused I had no idea what to do, as I couldn’t think straight. That’s when I decided to put a post onto the I Love Dachshund Melbourne Facebook site. The response was unbelievable and it’s then for the first time, that I didn’t feel alone through all of this. It’s there I was also introduced to the DISA Facebook site. It was still a very hard decision to make, but through the encouragement of people who have been through it, I opted for the surgery.
Living in East Bentleigh, and travelling back and forth to Werribee was very stressful in itself, so under a very high recommendation, I took Frank to Southpaws where they operated on him on the Wednesday and I picked him up the next day.In that time I was speaking with Helga from DISA quite a lot, and she was so wonderful in guiding me as to what needed to be done. So that night I met Helga in person, where I collected an IVDD kit from her that has everything you could possibly need, when your head doesn’t think clearly enough to take action. When I picked him up, I had the very good news that he was standing and going to the toilet on his own, and the surgery was successful. What a relief!! And I was also prepared at home in everything that I needed for his 12 week crate rest.
I had spent the whole 3 months 24/7 with Frank and I was lucky that my job flexibility allowed me to work from home to be with him. There were days where I had him out of the crate and in bed with me, as it killed me to see his little face in the crate. But I never ever left him unattended!
So currently up to date now, on the 10th of August 2016 I am walking Frank daily almost up to an hour. You would never guess that he ever went through this unless you knew him. He believes he is better again and trying to jump up and down on things, but I limit him, and am trying to change his ways as I never want to go through this again.
But as I learnt on this journey, you are not alone in this, and the DISA Facebook site was my bible. It’s just so lovely to speak with people who are going through this and give them inspiration on the other side. The knowledge I gained from the information provided by DISA is just wonderful. I am forever grateful to everyone involved and now every one new that I meet that owns dachshund. I am introducing them to this knowledge, and encouraging them to be aware of IVDD and get onto the DISA site.
I hope that my story will inspire any of you that are currently going through this to never give up, and remain positive and strong. You are not alone in this. Also one other thing is that I have had pet insurance since Frank was 8 weeks old, and cannot stress enough how important it is. I would not have been able to do the surgery without it, and thank god I did, as I believe Frank’s recovery was much quicker through this.
I wish everyone all the best, and both Frank’s and my love and thoughts are with all beautiful dachies who go down to this dreadful disease. If I can help in any way, even just by telling my story, then it’s a step to making people more IVDD aware, if not to the current dachie owners, but to the potentially new owners out there who are thinking of getting one. They sure do change your life for the better and I would not change one experience I have had with Frank; even the IVDD, as our connection is even stronger and I cannot love him anymore!!
Thanks Lynne and Frank xxx
To be touched by a fur child being struck down with IVDD at the age of about 6 is just devastating, but to have it happen to Dasha again three years later takes your breath away knowing she has to go through all the health issues, crate rest and rehabilitation again.
Dasha survived without ever complaining, and was in wheels about twelve months, before she passed over Rainbow Bridge at the age of 14 1/2 on the 7th November 2013.
Back then I was not on FB, so there was no information out there to help with the knowledge that was needed to help out our precious girl; to give me a better understanding of this dreaded disease. We miss Dasha every day, and she will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Well as they say, strike while the iron is hot, and this is exactly what I did. Ebony was operated on that afternoon by Ralph and the amazing team at South Paws. It only took her 4 days to achieve the drunken IVDD waddle, and with exercise and strict crate rest, after four weeks she now struts with a very petite IVDD waddle.
I cannot stress enough that every dachshund owner become a member of DISA, as it is imperative to have the knowledge, care and understanding that team DISA can provide to us all. The crate and pack service set up by DISA and held by members around Victoria has been a god send for many owners at a time in need.
DISA really do have our dachshunds backs
Daisy is a five year old black n tan standard and her journey with IVDD began one morning at the end of February, waking up to her completely paralysed from the waist down. It just happened overnight, with no warning signs at all. She was rushed to the local vets, to be then referred to a specialist vet. I was told that she was presenting with stage 3 to 4 and was operated on straight away.
Her operation was deemed to have gone well and she was required to stay in hospital for a week. Once she was home, she was on strict crate rest and only allowed to have toilet breaks outside her crate. After two weeks she started to show signs of movement in back legs, and still had deep pain sensation. After 4 weeks, she was starting to lift herself up and taking steps. Then out of the blue she started shaking and seemed to be in a lot of pain while in her crate, so she was rushed back to the specialist and I was told that the disc they had operated on had fractured and a splinter had gone into the spinal chord. They did another emergency operation, which now left her in a very bad way. She was now considered to be stage 5, with no deep pain sensation, no toilet function and paralysed.
It’s has now been about 4 months since her second operation, and she’s starting to pick herself up and walk a few paces. She also attends hydro once a week and I have found it to be great. I still have a long way to go with her recovery, but the one thing I have learnt, is not to give up because the determination our fur kids have is amazing. I hope by sharing my story it gives other mums and dads hope and understanding that our fur babies are capable of recovering given time.
P.S Specialist now expects her to make a full recovery.
Alison & Daisy xx
There were several occasions when Lulu had a sore back, she was trembling and hunched up. After a vet visit we gave her pain meds and anti inflammatories and, with crate rest, she came good. When do you go that step further and get a scan? No one can tell you….the last time it happened it was worse. Within 30 mins of taking the meds she couldn’t move her back legs….we were devastated; not sure if it was the valium the vet gave her to relax.
After a sleepless night for all of us, we rang the vets as soon as they opened…told them she had no movement in her back legs. We were referred to PVS and I had her there at 9.30am. Dr Punke saw her and informed me she needed an MRI and then an operation that afternoon…we said ok do whatever you have to do to fix her. We visited her that evening, and she was still out of it. The nurses in PVS were so nice and we could visit whenever we wanted, night or day. She recovered really well and was home on Monday (op was on Friday) but she still couldn’t stand. The really stressful part was she wasn’t weeing! We went to PVS to get her bladder scanned to see if her bladder was full;I tried to express her but failed…so after a few very worrying days she eventually did a wee on her own. I was sooooo happy…that was the turning point for us.
Seeing her now, you would never know she went through what she did. We are still very careful with her; no jumping on or off furniture; when we walk I only let her walk for about 25 mins then in the pram for a rest. She has her last visit to Carmel next week; it’s been a learning curve for us all but at the moment she is great. Fingers crossed she stays that way but with IVDD no one really knows.
The support and help you get from all the dachshund groups is amazing, I wouldn’t like to have gone through this on my own. I have learned so much and with IVDD Knowledge is Power…
From Adele and Lulu….
Our lives were forever changed on the Saturday of Easter weekend. 26/3/2016.
I was already a member of the IVDD group, not out of necessity, but because I knew Chrissy and had friends who’d had their precious ones go down to this and just wanted to support the group in any way. We’d also had a Dachshund go down with IVDD over 20 years ago and I didn’t know there were options then. I had also had spinal surgery just this past January, and had been a Paramedic for 30 years, so I had a good knowledge of spinal conditions and what to expect. I felt for these fur babies.
Then the (almost) unthinkable happened to us. Rocky had been fine. No previous injury or any indication of any prior events. We were careful about ramps up onto the lounges and onto the bed. No jumping allowed! We thought we had it covered. But there was a blue face heron that used to annoy our dogs (3 Dachshunds) by pecking at the window. Rocky had seen him this evening, and went racing out the door to let him know he wasn’t welcome! He scooted on the loose mat in front of the door and slid sideways but bolted out the door like lightning. There was much excitement and barking and a squeal. At first I thought he was just over-reacting to the heron, then came those words from Bruce, my husband “Rocky’s hurt! he can’t move his legs”; immediately my heart sank.
And just as immediately I knew what needed to be done. Immobilise and keep calm. (him or me?!) A quick check over soon showed me he certainly had extreme pain and deficit of lower limbs and tail. A call to Rosalia James. “Rocky’s just gone down with IVDD” and she straight away put the processes in place to get him to the optimum care place for best outcome. We live at the Sunshine Coast and nothing was open that weekend! So Rocky was placed in a washing basket with pillows under and around to keep him aligned and cushion the road trip bumps and off we set for Gatton UQ. Fortunately, we had a friend staying. She doggy sat out other 2 for us. Coco, Rocky’s best mate, was beside herself. She wasn’t going to let us take him away. She made such a fuss.
We arrived at Gatton 2.5 hours later, driving through storms! (What’s that about it don’t rain but it pours?!) The team were already expecting us, and after a quick consult, it was decided that emergency surgery was indeed required. We left him in their capable hands. Dr Jayne McGhie rang us at 0430 to say they’d finished the surgery. It had been an explosive disc at T13/L1 (yeah… that’s when I found out they’ve got a few extra vertebrae in there, than we humans have!) The spinal cord was quite purple and there was no response to nerve stimulation. He had deep pain sensation prior to surgery.
Then a word I’d never heard of came into my vocabulary. ‘MYELOMALACIA.‘ It’s a haemorrhage into the spinal cord and causes a softening of the cord resulting in permanent paralysis. The risk is, it can spread up &/or down the cord and the nerve supply at each level is affected as it progresses. Rocky was high risk for this because of the sudden catastrophic event that led to haemorrhage and disc material out of place in the spinal canal. His wasn’t a slow degenerative condition, which generally recovers better, as the nerves have had time to move and compensatory efforts from the dog, have protected the area. The further away from surgery date we got, the less the risk became until after a couple of weeks, we were finally given the all clear. It was a worrying time. Rocky had to stay down at Gatton for nearly 4 weeks having intensive therapy and teaching them that if you come close enough, with your mouth open, I can get my tongue down your throat!
We felt sad and guilty and mixed with “we know he’s in the right place for now, but what if he thinks we’ve abandoned him?” and every emotion in between! If you’re reading this and have just started on your IVDD journey, then do yourself a favour. Allow yourself to feel EVERYTHING! Yes! It’s YOUR IVDD journey too. It’s ok to be strong one moment and a melting moment the next!
I’m not going to give a blow by blow account. It’d take too long. But I do need to say, the staff at Gatton UQ were nothing short of amazing. Everyone, from the admin to the students to the physios and surgical team a huge THANKYOU. They gave regular (daily or twice daily) updates and accepted calls for every little query at any time. And trust me, being Nurse and Paramedic and spinal patient, I wanted to know everything. I asked for surgical reports and scans etc etc and they were most obliging.
Some status reports on Facebook read that their daxie was making incredibly fast recovery, some were taking longer. What I knew from my own spinal problems and subsequent surgery was that each case is SO individual. There’s no set pattern. You just don’t know how much, how fast, the progress, if any, will be. The other stories are all encouraging, and this is why I am writing this for you! Rocky didn’t walk out of there. His progress is S-L-O-W! He gets frustrated. I get frustrated. (It certainly didn’t help my recovery having to tend to his needs. The lifting, the bending, the stress…) But I gotta say…Rocky has been an incredible inspiration to me. We really are on this journey together!
We got a pet stroller pretty well much straight away. For him, and for me! I needed to be able to manage him at a good height and try not to bend! (Yeah right!) The stroller is great. It’s sturdy and can take the constant off roading required where we live. He has his cuddle rug (thanks Pay it Forward Dachshund Scheme) and he can come with me to the yard, the chooks, garden, room to room etc. A real back saver for me and he just loves being a part of wherever we’re doing life this day.
We seemed to hit a wall at about the 10 week mark. The progress just fizzled to almost nothing. I was still doing all the physio at home as we were instructed to do. The nerve stimulation with toothbrushes and different sensations etc but this just seemed to be all we could get to. No Deep Pain sensation. No movement in hind quarters. Time for wheels. I researched and asked around about which ones would suit us best and I was put in touch with Jo Wooley, Aussie Dog Wheelchairs who fitted Rocky out with a great set of 4WD wheels, suitable for the farm.
See…this is where our IVDD community comes into its best. A simple question or status and you have the information instantly. There are files for information, but the hearts of the folk here are just beautiful. Everyone wants to help. What has worked for one; what pitfalls to avoid. And what I found is, that if everyone puts their 5 cents in, you’ve soon got a full bank account of treasure tips.
Then another dachshund furmum suggested acupuncture. We now have this amazing Vet & Chiropractic/ Acupuncture/ Alternative Therapy Specialist come to visit us at home every fortnight and give Rocky acupuncture, physio and massage. (Yes! Paid for by Petplan!) I was blown away at the difference it made to Rocky. For a start it just zones him out for at least 30 minutes afterward! He’s so much more relaxed for days after it. Then he started to lift himself up on his back left leg. Then he started to stand while he was feeding out of his bowl or drinking.
The hallway that leads to our car garage has a mat at the lounge end. The other day when I came home, the baby gate was shut and the door open so I could see down the hallway and there’s my Rockstar standing up wagging his tail welcoming me home. What a welcome!! It was a very wobbly stand. Only one leg is really working. But he was so proud and wanted to show me. I was proud of him too.And now when he’s in his wheels, he uses that one leg to push himself along. The other one is starting to react a little too. This is still very much a work in progress. He may never walk or run normally. It may be a ‘spinal walk’ but he has such determination, that whatever he ends up with, he will make the best of whatever he has and be his happy self all the same. Thanks my little Rockstar. You’ve taught me well.
(NB We were so fortunate to have pet insurance. The total for the surgery and hospital stay was just over $9,300. So far, with equipment and ongoing physio and other medical help it adds up to over $11000.00. Cost to us has been the $150 excess! Phew!)