Buddy is a Dachshund/Beagle mix. He is 8 years old. His main
goal in life is FOOD - such an expert scrounger. He walks with
a little 'skip' - nobody can figure out why.
Buddy had his first minor episode last September,
and at the time we knew nothing about IVDD.
He was tossing his ball around one day, then
a bit later, he just stood still whining and not willing to
move. He was still able to walk, but very slowly.
The vet took x-rays and told us it looked like
a ruptured disc in his neck - he put him on Prednisone. . we
still didn't know about IVDD - the vet didn't elaborate about
it on that visit. (I wish he had, we would have started taking
more precautions then!)
After a few days Buddy improved a lot. It took
him only a couple weeks to get right back to normal. We thought
it was all over, but as it turned out, it was NOT over.
Three months later, on New Years Eve, our family
went out for a few hours. We came back to a happy, healthy dog,
racing around with joy to have us back home. All was well, but
not for long. That morning at 5am Buddy suddenly started screeching.
No reason we could think of, he hadn't screamed last time so
we didn't connect it right away.
Again, he was unwilling to move. His back was
hunched in the middle this time. We rested him and watched him
for a couple days, no change - so back to the Vet for more x-rays.
He saw a calcified disc in his neck, probably from the September
The vet went over the options - cage rest/meds
- surgery - euthanasia. He said most people don't opt for surgery,
and it is not available in our Province. He recommended the
rest/meds to start. We didn't consider surgery an option - Buddy
wasn't a young dog, there were risks involved, it meant shipping
him to another Province, and the expense of that, plus the MRI,
tests and surgery was more than we thought we could handle.
Knowing that the only other alternative was Euthanasia, we stuck
with the rest/medication for 2 months. Buddy was on Prednisone
and Robaxin - we kept him quiet and confined - carrying him
outside to do his business. He walked unsteadily at this point,
and had some knuckling on one side which concerned us.
This time around, Buddy did not recover quickly.
There would seem to be improvements, he would be more perky
and walk better outside, less knuckling, the screeching would
stop for a day or 2, leaving us hopeful that the meds and rest
would do the trick in time. Then after a few good days, he would
relapse again, more trouble walking, scream a little, some neck
'twitching' - and he'd have a couple bad days.
During most of the winter, we were on an emotional
rollercoaster with the good and bad days - couple days of good
appetite, better walking, better movement, some hope - then
another relapse and back to despair.
I read every IVDD article I could find, I kept
in touch with the vet, kept track of everything on paper, his
good/bad days, how well he walked, how many times he screeched,
his appetite, etc.
A few times during this very long, cold, upsetting
winter, we discussed giving up. We didn't want him to suffer
any more, we started to lose hope. Incredibly, it almost seemed
as if Buddy could hear us, as he would almost ALWAYS improve
drastically right after our 'Euthanasia' talks, so we'd hold
on a bit longer again.
One big concern was his rapid muscle atrophy.
He'd always been a solid, well-muscled, small but HEAVY dog.
Now he was like a bundle of mush when we picked him up. He'd
lost a lot of weight and was very unsteady on his feet, sometimes
falling over outside.
After 7 weeks, the improvements stopped. Buddy
declined quickly. Typically for Buddy, he still had a good appetite!
But he couldn't stand at all anymore and his right front leg
stayed straight , as if he couldn't bend it - his rear legs
just sank when we put him down. He never lost bladder control,
but could no longer get around outside well enough to do his
We knew this was it, the decision now had to
be made. If he hadn't kept improving on and off, we never would
have waited so long, but he had never been this bad before.
Well, we couldn't do it. Suddenly, we decided
that we couldn't give up on him after all this - he was too
precious to us, even more so now, after such a tough time -
constant care and worrying. So what was NOT an option - suddenly
became our ONLY option. We'd do it somehow, now we were just
angry at ourselves for not doing it sooner. We contacted our
vet to get things going.
We flew Buddy to the Western Vet College in
Saskatchewan for surgery. All by himself, which was really tough
on us and him. Every day we waited and fretted and spoke with
the Vets there. We believed things would go quickly now. Not
so! There were delays, and he wasn't responding to all the tests
as expected, they weren't even sure if it was only a disc or
something else as well. We were going insane with worry, thinking
Buddy must be suffering there, and he'd decline physically even
more before surgery was done.
They did an MRI and confirmed it WAS a disc
and nothing else. He had an 'Enormous' amount of disc material
around his spinal chord, they said he must be a real tough little
Finally, the surgery was scheduled for the next
day, exactly a week after Buddy had left home.
We waited by the phone for the 'post surgery'
call. What a relief!!! It was a raving success!!! They got almost
all of the material out, plus did fenestration on a few more
discs in his neck. The vet was very optimistic about his recovery
Finally, after 12 days away, Buddy came home
to us - extremely excited, and in amazing shape! ...This time
he was screaming with JOY to see us!!!
We had thought it would take months for him
to recover from his long, difficult winter and the surgery.
Not so at all!! He was walking very well, quite wobbly of course,
but a million times better than we'd imagined. He didn't even
need cage rest, because he was walking, the vets put him on
'house rest' and supervision. Nor did he need physio - short
walks and his activity within the house was his therapy. We
phased out his Prednisone slowly.
Buddy has now been home for 7 weeks - he is
BETTER than 100 percent!!. Full of beans, voracious appetite,
acting younger and more full of zip than BEFORE the last episode.
The only sign he went through anything at all - his shaved neck
fur hasn't grown back much yet!
Now that we are VERY aware of IVDD, we are much
more careful. He is not allowed in the car or on our beds anymore.
He has two comfy beds on the floor. We now use a harness instead
of a collar to help protect his neck. - We've tried to keep
him off the couches, which has proved next to impossible - but
we do what we can to limit his jumping, and hope this doesn't
While we went through this with Buddy, I read
and re-read the stories from Dodgers List. Loved looking at
all the great dog pictures, while searching for similarities
to our story - I found plenty (aside from the long improve/decline
cycle - that seemed a bit unique).
This website was so helpful, not only to educate
about IVDD - it also gave us comfort that we were not alone
in this experience - and best of all - Hope - as most of the
'surgery' stories were successes - which definitely helped us
make our final decision.
We have never regretted it for a second. We
are so grateful to have him back and well - we are so glad we
sent him for the surgery. It was more than worth it!!
And I think Buddy would agree.
- submitted by Debbie Wickens
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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