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Story of the Month - November 2009



At first I thought my Sammy was having stomach pain, as evidenced by his yelping whenever I touched that area. "No," said the vet, "It's his back," and she sent us home with mild medication and orders for Sammy to "take it easy."

Four days later, on a Sunday morning, Sammy and his brother Frodo exploded out of their crate as usual for their morning walk. When Sammy raced around a corner, though, his backside teetered over, and his back legs quickly followed. He spent the rest of the day trying to make those back legs behave and move as they used to, and I spent the rest of the day trying to stop crying. Neither of us accomplished these lofty goals.

Very early Monday morning, the vet gave Sammy a large shot of steroids, Prednisone pills to take at home, and a stomach protector. She said any improvement would be seen in about 24 hours, and that after that his chances of regaining feeling and movement were close to zero. When we came home, Sammy dragged himself to his dog bed to cuddle with his brother, and I searched for information on the Internet about dachshunds with back problems. I was lucky to find Dodger's List and the wonderful people on it who would guide me through the next difficult weeks.

Reading through the incredible amount of information on Dodger's List, I realized how many mistakes I had made with my dogs. I never should have let them jump onto furniture, and I should have put Sammy on crate rest as soon as I knew he was having back problems. I felt incredibly guilty but obviously could not change the past. I could, however, put Sammy on immediate crate rest and keep him on crate rest for the next 8 weeks.

More challenges followed, such as when Sammy could no longer control his bladder. One vet refused to teach me how to express his bladder, saying it was pointless because he was leaking constantly, and forecasted bluntly that Sammy would probably soon die painfully of a bladder infection. My boyfriend and many contacts on Dodger's List refuted this dire prediction and encouraged me to insist that a different vet teach me to express. This wonderful, IVDD-knowledgeable vet became Sammy's permanent vet from that point on, and she checked on Sammy's progress almost every other day. She echoed the Dodger's List advice that "I've seen these little guys come back! Don't give up hope!" She was right, too: just a few days after I learned to express him, Sammy's bladder started working again. I never would have thought I'd cry tears of joy when my dog managed to "water" the lawn, but I certainly did, repeatedly! (re-pee-tedly?)

Then, during week 5 of his crate rest, Sammy nonchalantly lifted his back leg to scratch his ear. Was I hallucinating? No --my boyfriend verified this seemingly miraculous sighting -- Sammy was moving his back legs again!

Sammy has just finished his 8 weeks of crate rest, and I am thrilled to report he is walking! We're taking it slowly, and his back legs are wobbly, but I could not be happier with his progress. My once-paralyzed boy has come so far! He can even perform a revised version of his "corner dance," where he energetically celebrates the arrival of his breakfast.

I've learned so much from Dodger's List and received so much caring, knowledgeable support. Most importantly, I know now that dogs can and do have quality of life, even if they remain paralyzed. After all, Sammy could still snuggle with his brother, beg for cheese, and flip over for a tummy rub, whether he could use his back legs or not.


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