On January 19, 2008 I
left to visit my daughters at college, leaving Ollie and Heidi
with my husband. At this point, Ollie was, as far as I knew,
healthy and just getting older, with a little gray around his
muzzle at age 7. When I arrived home the next day, the dogs were
understandably excited to see me walk in the door and Ollie got
up on his hind legs to meet me at the gate. He made a horrible
scream and laid down on his side with his back arched, panting.
We went to our regular vet since he was open at that point and
he took an x-ray and sent us to the emergency vet up the street.
He said that Ollie had ruptured a disc at T11-T12 and was on his
way to being paralyzed. He explained that he was not equipped to
do surgery but the emergency vet was. It was implied that if the
surgery didn’t work or we didn’t do it Ollie would have no
quality of life and basically we would be acting selfishly if we
didn’t put him down.
By the time we got to the ER it had been approximately an hour
from Ollie’s disc rupture and he was paralyzed. He lost bladder
and bowel control along with deep pain soon after arriving at
the ER. We were informed that they were also not equipped to
perform surgery on him and offered to call around to
neurologists to see who was available. They found a surgeon an
hour away who would attempt the surgery for $8,000 but due to
the speed in which he lost bowel/bladder control and deep pain
they gave him a less than 5% chance of the surgery being
successful. At that point we opted for conservative treatment
because of his poor prognosis. They put him on Prednisone and
TraMadol for pain and told me even though I was totally
devastated that nursing care is very hard but it is doable if I
made the commitment. She emphasized that he would not
permanently be in pain and would adjust to his situation if
given the chance.
It was very hard at first. It became my job to problem-solve and
comb the internet for answers and solutions. After finding the
Dachshund Rescue of North America (DRNA) site and writing a very
nice lady named Yolanda who had a post seeking a permanent home
for a paralyzed doxie she rescued, I asked her for help. Yolanda
told me about Dodger’s List. Ollie went straight to his crate
for 8 weeks, only coming out for potty breaks. After a couple
weeks we weaned him off his pain medicine. He was very
comfortable and his personality started coming back full-force.
This is when I knew for sure that everything would be ok whether
he walked again or not. He didn’t care he was paralyzed. He
cared that he was comfortable, fed and loved.
At this point in time it has been 2 1⁄2 years and Ollie is still
making very small but steady gains in function. He can move his
feet at times, has shown improvement in bladder and bowel
control (slowly getting better but still needs expressing) and
wags his tail sometimes. I think that’s what I missed the most,
the tail wagging. Ollie has a cart and is still OCD about
fetching the tennis ball whether he’s in the cart or scooting in
the house. He runs like the wind and even now it still makes me
happy to watch him run. We still do water therapy at home and
also range of motion exercises to keep him in shape as his
nerves continue their attempt to reconnect.
Ollie will never give up and neither will I. We are a team.
Somewhere along the way what was once very hard has become
routine and normal to us. Ollie was just one of the rare dogs
that have an injury so severe that it results in long-lasting
problems. Most dogs do regain function during the crate rest
period. My point of view is that, like some people, some dogs
have different mobility and capabilities and if they are happy
and pain free, they are a true success story. Thank you so much,
Dodger’s. Without you all we wouldn’t have stood a chance. The
support is invaluable and you are a constantly flowing source of
great information and solutions.
cape, Oct 2010
[Editor's note: Pam has shared directions for Ollie's
protective blue scooting garment]
July 2011 update: After 3 1/2 years
of no movement in his rear legs he has started moving them in
walking movements and trying to stand up when he's really excited
like when he's waiting for me to put him in his cart to go
outside! We just came in from "swimming" in the baby pool and his
back legs were doing the doggy paddle for the first time EVER. Not
small movements where you don't know if you imagined them, full
range of motion kicking!
was diagnosed with a very advanced state of untreatable
cancer. Ollie inspired so many and will continue to do so from
another world. He left us with wonderful memories and
hisjoie de vivre. We'll never
forget you Ollie.