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Story of the Month - December 2002
When 5 year old "tweenie," (a Dachshund weighing more than a "miniature" - 11 pounds or less; and less than a "standard" - 11-16 pounds) Winnie arrived at her new foster home on Sunday, June 9, 2002, she was partially paralyzed and grossly overweight at 21 lbs. Although she could intermittently hobble (with one leg dragging behind her), for the most part, she could not walk on her own. It was during those frequent times when Winnie had no choice but to literally drag her butt across the floor in order to get around.

Due to the fact that the previous owners hadn't the financial means, nor the time, to provide surgery or after-care, they were going to be forced to have Winnie put to sleep if she still showed no signs of improvement once her prescription medications were gone. In the interim, the owners posted a courageous last-minute plea to save Winnie on The Dachshund Rescue Web Page. A visitor to that site then forwarded the owners' email to the Dodgerslist discussion list.

Representatives from Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue responded and were then able to arrange to have Winnie successfully surrendered and placed in the care of her new foster family (just two pills and two days shy of being put to death), during which time, an appointment with a quality neurosurgeon had also been made for the following day.

Between Winnie's ability to feel extreme pain upon having her back touched, and do bathroom duties without any help (in expressing her bowels), Dr. Pothoff, chief neurosurgeon at The Animal Neurological Clinic held high hope upon seeing her on Monday, June 10, 2002. Although she had been experiencing recurring back discomfort and paralysis for the past 9 months, he remained confident that, because there were messages still being sent from her brain to the spinal cord, her chances of recovery from the surgery necessary to repair what he surmised were disc herniations of her midback were very good. Winnie was officially admitted to his care on that day. Later that afternoon, diagnostic "CT" (computed tomography) imaging of Winnie's cervical and lumbar discs from T11-12 through L3-4 revealed a large extruded disc at T12-13, that was located under the spinal cord.

Winnie's 5:00 PM surgery involved a hemilaminectomy procedure (drilling a window in the bone so that disc material can then be removed from the spinal canal) was performed at discs T11 through L1, allowing recovery of a large quantity of extruded disc material. T11-12, T12-13,T13-L1 and L1-2 were fenestrated; whereby a small window is made into the outer fibrous ring of the disc, and the material in the center of the disc is removed. Fenestration is done to reduce the possibility of the surrounding discs from herniating and causing the animal problems in the future.

Winnie was ambulatory but weak during her three day post-op hospital stay.
Upon arriving home on Thursday, June 13, 2002, Dr. Pothoff's favorable prognosis proved accurate. Within three days, although a bit wobbly, Winnie was walking!
During the next eight weeks of recuperation, except for potty calls and daily doses of hallway and yard walks (for therapeutic purposes), she was kept very quiet.
Winnie now shows no signs whatsoever of discomfort or weakness and found her permanent home with her foster mom. She has lost half of the excess weight that she arrived with, and is extremely happy and well-adjusted. She runs, plays, jumps (on the rare occasion when nobody is able to catch her), wags and wiggles her entire body. She has this unique ability to "talk" in a whimpered fashion when she wants something, and when having her belly rubbed, which, next to food, has to be her favorite pastime. Her favorite playmate, besides her mom, is a dapple Dachshund named Paco, who is about the only dog in her home that gets away with a daily butt-check or two (all in fun, of course).

- submitted by Jeanne Fazio
York, ME

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