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Baxter Boo

by Shari Harrell

I grew up with dachshunds and come from a family of dachshund lovers.  I always knew dachshunds were prone to back problems but had no idea how serious back problems could be until Baxter Boo's first episode in 2009.

Baxter Boo was born August 20, 2003. 

In May 2009, Baxter Boo showed signs of limping, I thought he had just hurt his leg.  We restricted his movement and one night he could not walk.  We rushed him to an emergency vet at 3AM in the morning.  The emergency vet said he showed no signs of deep pain sensation and said he was paralyzed and without surgery he would never walk again.  We could not afford surgery.  I was a mess.  We had just moved to Akron, Ohio and had not found a new vet.  Later that morning, my husband and I drove three hours to our old vet for a second opinion.  Our old vet understood IVDD and prescribed medications and crate rest.  Eight weeks of conservative treatment, Baxter Boo made a full recovery and was not paralyzed. 

After the 2009 episode we made modifications to prevent future injury.  We put the mattress on the floor, built a ramp down the back steps, blocked off all access to stairs and furniture Baxter could jump on. 

January 2013, Baxter Boo was sitting on the floor by the kitchen table when two of the cats got into an argument.  Tasha jumped on the table to get away and slid off the table directly onto Baxter's back.  He yelped with pain.  He then started walking funny and was in extreme pain.  We immediately crated him and the next morning took him to the vet.  He had two injured discs in his neck.  We started conservative treatment and medications. 

It took over a week to find the right combination of medications to eliminate the pain.  It was a long first week.  In 2009, we were able to find the right combination of meds immediately and this time I felt like we were never going to find the right combination.  I hated seeing my baby in pain.  Once we found the right combination things were going well until we tried to taper prednisone to every other day.  The pain returned and we continued daily prednisone a little longer and the second attempt at a taper we were able to go to every other day and then tampered completely off the meds. 

I have learned a lot about IVDD. 

During the 2009 episode, I learned if you are not happy with the vet's recommendation, get a second opinion and find a vet knowledge about IVDD.  If we had not taken Baxter to our old vet for a second opinion, that stupid emergency vet would have us put Baxter down.  With the 2013 episode I learned keep constant communication with your vet, our vet was great working with us (seeing Baxter on short notice and working us in) to find the right combination of meds. 

Conservative treatment can work if done correctly.  In 2009 it was his lower back and he made a complete recovery.  This time it was his neck and he made a complete recovery.  Conservative treatment is a long process and is not easy.  I missed Baxter Boo sleeping with us, sitting on the couch with us watching television, etc.  As Baxter Boo has felt better, it is hard when he gets fussy  to leave him in his cage.  But I remind myself he is recovering and we cannot risk re-injury. 

This time we have modified the bed further, the mattress is still on the floor but we built a barrier around it so he cannot even jump off the mattress. 

As with the 2009 episode, when his eight weeks is up, we will gradually re-introduce activity.  Counting the days until March 15th.

February 2015 update:

One year ago today everything changed.  Baxter Boo suffered his 3rd episode and this time loss the use of his back legs and during the past year suffered two more episodes. 

A year later he is still not walking but has made wonderful progress.  He can now wag his tail (it is a slow wag but he is now wagging his tail). 

He does weekly water therapy and can move both back legs in his water therapy.  He can almost stand on his own. 

After three episodes and three series of 8 weeks of crate rest, he has been off crate rest since October 22nd with no problems.

He is sleeping with us once again, and in the evening either in his cart or his drag bag and playing with his brother and sister. 

It has been a very long year but Baxter Boo and my husband and I stuck with it and he is now a happy and pain free puppy. 

He may or may not walk again but as long as he his pain free and remains pain free, I am happy.