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Chillie’s Story
 Steven Michelson

I adopted Chillie a little over 12 years ago. She spends much of her time snoozing on the sofa or the bed, and over the years, has always simply hopped on and off at her leisure. We live in a two story house, and she frequently ran up and down the stairs. Knowing the risks to her back, I did carry her up and down the stairs whenever I could, and I tried to put her up and take her off the sofas and bed, but alas, she has her own mind, and she often did so by herself.
A few times over the years, she has had some minor back pain, which was easily corrected by giving her baby aspirin for 5 days. I only knew about the pain because she was reluctant to jump on or off furniture or up and down stairs during that time. At all times, she was fully able to walk and run. Somewhere around the weekend of October 18, 2003 she starting limping on her right leg. I figured she had sprained her leg or something. I started carrying her in and out, and limiting her mobility. Over two weeks, it got much, much better, and seemed to completely go away. She was once again running around without a problem, and jumping on and off furniture whenever I couldn’t get to her first.
Until the morning of November 4, 2003.  That morning, when she woke up, she was hunched over, clearly in severe discomfort and some pain. She had great difficulty walking (though I subsequently learned that the fact that she had mobility in all four legs was a good sign, indicating that the spinal cord was intact). I took her to an emergency vet, who quickly diagnosed a disc herniation in her neck (based on her symptoms, breed, and age), and indicated that we had two major options: steroids or surgery. I opted for the steroid treatment at first, and left her at the vet overnight. They gave her three injected steroidal treatments over the course of the day, and I picked her up the next morning. She was a little better, though still far from perfect. They sent me home with Prednisone tablets and Pepcid AC, which I was to give her according to a schedule. I started on the Prednisone that night, and minimized her mobility, carrying her in and out. Over the next couple of days, she did not get any worse but also she did not seem to improve. The night of November 6 was awful – she had a severe case of diarrhea, and was asking to go out every half hour throughout the night. Now, not only was she uncomfortable due to the herniated disc, but the diarrhea was unbelievable, and I feared it would dehydrate her if it continued. I attributed it to the Prednisone; the fact that they had her take Pepcid with it was an indication to me that they knew it could cause some type of gastrointestinal problem, and Chillie has long had a sensitive stomach.
The next morning I decided to do the surgery, provided the vet thought there was a good chance of recovery, and that the risks were minimized. I called her, and after asking a lot of questions about the procedure, recovery period, anesthesia, risks, etc., I decided to go through with it.  Due to the diarrhea, they put her on IV to get fluids and nutrition into her body, in preparation for the MRI, surgery, and anesthesia the next day.
Late the next morning, I received a call from the vet who indicated that they had just completed the MRI. She indicated that it was an acute rupture (meaning that some “event” suddenly caused it), and that she would benefit from the surgery, with an excellent chance of a full recovery. Again, I started asking questions (this was my last chance to make sure I didn’t miss any important ones), and was soon convinced that surgery was likely to be a good option for Chillie.
Later that evening, I received a call from the vet who indicated that everything went well. The day after that, I went to see her again, and she was starting to stand up again and her appetite was back – all good signs! The next day, I went to pick her up from the hospital, and she was walking (slowly and deliberately, but walking without pain nonetheless). A week after the surgery she was about 90% recovered, and two weeks afterward, she was bopping around the house pretty much like she used to.  I am now careful, though, to prevent her from jumping up on furniture, or going up and down stairs.
I am convinced that the primary cause of the disc herniation was her constant jumping down off of furniture – the sudden jolt on her front paws when she landed needed to be absorbed by the discs (like shock absorbers), and over time, they weakened and one ruptured. I now have a ramp that I am trying to “convince” her to use, and I would recommend one to everybody who has a Dachshund or any other breed susceptible to disc problems. When I walk her, I use a harness, rather than a collar, to reduce the chance of any sudden pressure on her neck. But basically, I am happy to report that she has recovered quite nicely from this painful and trying ordeal.

RUSTY
Connie

One night when I came home from work, my little Rusty was not acting like himself.  He didn't want to move. He just sat there when I called him. So the next day I took him to go see the vet. At this point he was walking well.  The vet leave him and he would run some test and take x-rays in the morning. When they called me to come pick him up they said he was not walking and had disc compression of 3-4 and 5-and 6 disc. They sent me to a neurosurgeon. She stated that she could get him back to 75% to 85% with surgery but the surgery would cost$5600.00.  Being a single parent I could not afford that and then stated that the best thing for Rusty would be to put him down. I cried all the way home a she gave me no hope at all. so a few days later I took him back to his vet and they put him on an IV and injected him for 24 hours.  My vet said there is others things you can do.  Get him a wheelchair. So I asked the kids what they wanted to do with the Christmas fund that we have. They said lets get Rusty some help with it. So I sent away for a wheelchair for him. I was determined that rusty was going to walk again. One night I was on the computer and just happened to come across a doxie site and emailed a lady Linda and she told me there are other things we do for our babys like acupuncture,  So the very next morning I made an appointment  and took Rusty there that day. Rusty has had 9 treatments now and it has been 2 months since Rusty went down.  He is now walking. We took him to the vet on Tuesday the 6th and  the vet asked how is was doing and I lifted rusty off the table and she started to cry because he showed her that he was walking. We are all very happy that my little Rusty is now WALKING once again. so please if you have a down baby please try acupuncture it worked for Rusty.
                                                CONNIE AND RUSTY

Scooby's Story
Jami

Scooby is a 3 ½ year old smooth hair, black and tan dachshund. Scooby’s back problems started in 9/03. I woke up one morning and Scooby was not acting like his usual self. He had gone to the bathroom in the house 4 times, which was very unusual, and he wouldn’t eat. I left for school, not thinking about the fact that the night before he had been whining, wouldn’t jump up into bed, and had been shaking. At the time, I didn’t know the symptoms of IVDD.
When I got home that afternoon, Scooby seemed to be limping. We had just moved to CA, didn’t have a new vet yet, and it was almost 5 pm on a Friday night, so I called the closest vet I knew of and took him there. By the time I got there, Scooby was starting to drag his back legs, and by the time we left, his rear end was totally paralyzed. The vet explained what was happening, took x-rays, gave Scooby a shot of prednisone, and sent me home with a prescription of prednisone, the x-rays, and a phone number for the nearest ER vet. She told me that if the steroids were going to work, Scooby would be at least 50% better by the morning, but if his condition deteriorated during the night, I should take him and the x-rays to the Pet Emergency.
I took Scooby home, and for the next two hours, he didn’t move. He just laid on the floor, with a look of horrible pain and confusion in his eyes. I called the ER vet, and they told me to bring him in. The vet explained that not all dogs require surgery to recover, but in his opinion, Scooby needed surgery. However, he told me that Scooby would need to be examined by a surgeon before I would know for sure if surgery was necessary. He told me he could call the surgeon on-call, from Veterinary Surgical Associates. The surgeon agreed that even though Scooby still had deep pain sensation, his paralysis was very acute, he had no bowel or bladder control, and he was unable to wag his tail, so surgery was the best option. But, he felt it would be better to do the surgery in the morning with a full surgical staff, so Scooby was admitted that night, treated with pain meds and steroids, and had surgery the next morning.
The surgery went much longer than anticipated - apx. 3 hours. There was a lot of disc material, and the surgery was very tedious, but Scooby made it through fine. I went to visit him later that evening, and I was not at all prepared for the state he was in. He was still coming out of the anesthesia and was on a lot of pain medication. His jaw was locked shut, his tongue was hanging out of his mouth, his eyes were glazed over, and he was whimpering and moaning a lot. I don’t even think he recognized me at first. I spent about 20 minutes with him, but he seemed to be getting more and more uncomfortable, so I asked them to make him comfortable before I left and was told I could take him home as soon as he regained bladder control. That night I called to check on him before I went to bed and was told he was doing much better. He was starting to move his legs on his own, and he was able to stand on his own after being lifted up. I was so relieved.
The next morning I called to check on him, and the vet I spoke with was concerned. He said Scooby was no longer moving his legs at all and couldn’t stand. I visited Scooby later in the evening, and his condition hadn’t improved, but he seemed to be feeling much better. He was so excited to see me, and trying so hard to scoot to the door to go home with me. By now it was Sunday night, and the surgeon was due in the next morning, so we both agreed Scooby should stay until she could re-evaluate him. Monday morning I spoke with Scooby’s new surgeon. She had spoken with the surgeon who did Scooby’s surgery, and they both agreed that something was not right. She wanted to do another myelogram on him, but only if I would agree to let her operate again if she found something. She didn’t want to put Scooby under needlessly, but felt he was strong enough to make it through another operation if necessary. I had already borrowed nearly $5,000 for the first surgery, and I didn’t think there was any way I could afford a second operation. There was no way my parents were going to loan me more money. They wanted me to put him to sleep at first, which was not an option. The surgeon suggested I come visit Scooby because seeing me might motivate him to move his legs – maybe he was just depressed. He was definitely happy to see me, but couldn’t move his legs at all, and of course, once I saw him I knew I had to do whatever I could to make him better. The surgeon told me about Care Credit, so I applied, and I was approved.
The surgeon did another myelogram, but she wasn’t able to tell what was going on for sure. She said Scooby’s spinal cord was extremely swollen, even more so than before his first surgery. She told me she’d like to do “exploratory surgery” so I told her to go ahead. Sure enough, Scooby had ruptured another disc, and this time, one of his nerves was entangled in the disc material, so she told me his right leg might be a little weaker, but she still expected him to fully recover. She cleaned out all the ruptured material, and as a result of a discussion we had regarding fenestration (which I learned about on Dodger’s List) she fenestrated as far down as the spinal cord was swollen. In the end, Scooby had surgery on discs L3, L4, L5, & L6.
Scooby stayed in the hospital a few more days, but finally came home after nearly a week. He still didn’t have bladder control, but the first few days I was able to express him. Then he became too difficult to express, so I had to have him catheterized three times a day for nearly two weeks. Scooby regained bladder control about three weeks after his surgeries. In the meantime, the first week Scooby was home he was on prednisone, which tapered off after 5 days, tagamet for his tummy, torbugesic, and a fentenyl patch. He slept in a play pen during the first week and stayed in it while I was at school. He seemed to know that he needed to be in there at first, but after about a week he refused to stay in it any longer, so I had to begin confining him to my very small bathroom. When I was home, I kept him right by my side, on the couch with me, in his bed, or in a laundry basket.
His recovery was a day to day process. Each day, he seemed to get stronger and would be able to do a little more. I would play with his tail, and I could feel him using his muscles to try to wrap it around my finger. I would take him out to sniff and try to go potty with his sling, and pretty soon he was able to take a few steps on his own. Then one day I saw him scratch his ear. The day he wagged his tail was so exciting! It was pretty crooked for quite some time, but is now back to normal. Within a couple of weeks, he could roll over, jump up on my legs when I walked in the door, walk, and even run! Once he was able to move well enough to get out of the way if I were to roll over on him, I let him start sleeping in bed with me again. His recovery was really much speedier than expected, and it wasn’t long before keeping him quiet became the most difficult task. As soon as he could do more again, he wanted to walk, run, play, etc. and didn’t quite understand why we had to take such short walks or why he was still stuck in the bathroom all day. After 6-7 weeks of confinement, I got the okay to let him out, and gradually, we began increasing our walks and his level of activity.
It has been just over 13 weeks since Scooby’s surgeries, and he is 95% back to his old self. He can no longer jump up on the couches or the bed, but that’s a good thing because I don’t have to worry about him getting hurt when I’m not home. He’s beginning to use the ramps a little more, and I’m hoping with time he will learn to use them regularly. The only other difference is that he can’t quite tell when he’s done peeing, so sometimes he leaves zig zags down the sidewalk, but it’s really kind of cute.
Taking care of Scooby was difficult at first, but once we got a routine going, it was more time consuming than anything else. The worst part was the emotional roller coaster ride, and the nearly $9,000 in debt I’ve incurred, but it was worth every minute of heartache and every penny I spent. Scooby now has a long, happy life ahead of him, and I definitely don’t regret opting for surgery – twice.
If you are contemplating whether or not you can handle this ordeal, I promise you – you can! As a first year law student in her first semester, in a new state, all alone, it was not easy, and you shouldn’t expect it to be, either, but every time I look at Scooby I know I wouldn’t take back a thing. He never gave up the fight, and even when he couldn’t walk, he was still so happy just to be with me. You’ve found the right place for all the support and information you need to help you get through this, and when you do, you will be so glad you didn’t give up, and every time you look at your precious pup, you will get all the reward you need! 
Dodgerslist would like to thank Dr. Elisabeth Richardson, DVM, Diplomate ACVS and Dr. Bill Szon, DVM, DACVIM in San Rafael, CA for helping Scooby to recover.

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