My little sweetpea Gunther, a red dapple miniature Dachshund came to live with me in August 2001 when he was 7 months old. Gunther had been surrendered by his previous owner to a shelter to be turned over to Dachshund Rescue. His is a very interesting story, and I know in my heart we were destined to be together.
In April 2001 my mother, aunt & I visited a pet store in a local mall. There I saw the sweetest little red dapple Dachshund. I held him and he just covered my face in kisses and it was so hard to hand him back to the employee to be put back in that horrid cage. The store wanted $1200 for the little guy. I would never buy a pup from a pet store, but wow did he tug at my heartstrings. I noticed that he had a very unusual arrangement of markings on his back... his dapples were in the shape of a diamond, and he had one tiny marbled area on the inside edge of his right eye. I don't know why these things struck me, but they did.
Life went on and late that summer my friend Elinor phoned and told me about a little Dachshund who was being held in a shelter for clearance to be put into Dachshund Rescue. Elinor knew I was looking for a doxie pup, so told her friend who managed the kennel to hold the pup for me. I went that very afternoon to see Gunther.
He was very timid, but when I knelt down and laid my hand against the chain link gate of his kennel he pressed his face against my hand and wiggled his tail. I knew I couldn't leave without that little boy that day. As I went over the paperwork with the kennel manager I held Gunther and noticed he had a small marbled dappling in his right eye. As the paperwork was read to me I realized that Gunther had been purchased from the pet store I'd met a little dappled pup a few months prior. The woman said that a lady had purchased Gunther for her husband, and the husband died a couple months later. The wife hated the pup, and left him tied outside to a tree for 10 hours while she worked, then crated him the rest of the time. As I listened to how this boy had been neglected I noticed the diamond shaped dappling pattern on his back, and realized that Gunther was indeed the pup I'd held at the pet store back in April.
So Gunther came home with me that day. We were meant to be together.
He turned out to be a bundle of energy and the biggest love-bug I could ever have imagined. Just an all around special guy, not a care in the world, and he loves everyone.
Gunther was a healthy happy little guy until just before Christmas 2004. Right after Thanksgiving I noticed he had a bit of a lag in his hind quarters and seemed to be unsteady walking. A visit to the vet brought the diagnosis of IVDD, and Gunnie was put on prednisone and crate rest. For the first two weeks on the meds he seemed to improve but then two days before Christmas he went completely down. He had no pain sensation in either hind leg and on December 23rd I took him to Veterinary Specialties Referral Center in Pattersonville NY where he underwent surgery. He had a ruptured disk at T-12 & T-13.
The prognosis was 50-50 the surgeon said, and that it would take several weeks before we'd know if Gunnie would get his legs back and start to walk again. When I called on Christmas Eve morning to see how he was doing to my great surprise the vet said, "You can come and take him home, he's a little Christmas miracle!" I was shocked and overjoyed! When my mother drove me out to pick Gunther up we were met inside the clinic by a host of very cheerful clinic staff, all clustered around my little Gunther. Due to the holiday he was the only patient in the clinic and he was the center of attention.
"Look who's here Gunnie!" one of the girls said, and the crowd split and who came waddling toward me on very wobbly legs but my Gunnie bunny! His steps were hesitant and halting, but they were steps just the same. Tears of joy streamed down my face, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the place, in fact.
So I returned home with my little miracle and went about the business of helping him to heal. We did daily leg exercises and massage, and later after his sutures were removed we started doing water therapy. Gunther was a very willing patient and he had a strong will to recover from the start. By his third week post-op he was walking with only a slight limp, though his gait was now a rolling waddle. It brought even more personality to this already very social boy, and I was so proud of his progress.
From there Gunther grew stronger and stronger, and if you didn't know he'd once been paralyzed, well, you wouldn't have a clue. He was 100% within 6 months, but for that permanent rolling gait that gave him such charm.
All went well until late Summer 2006. I'd been hospitalized with kidney problems and a severe infection and my parents were taking care of Gunther and my other Dachshunds at the time. The day before I was discharged Mom told me that Gunther was walking funny and kept stumbling. By the time I got home the following day he was down again and dragging his hindquarters. Off to the neurosurgeon once again, and Gunnie underwent his second surgery in as many years.
This time the rupture was at T-11 & T-12, and there was a lot of debris that had to be cleaned out. The joy of seeing my miracle boy walking day after his first surgery was not to be this time around. Gunther remained hospitalized for four days before I brought him home. We began the routine of physical therapy, massage, strict crate rest, pain meds and TLC. After two weeks Gunnie took his first steps and from there there was no stopping him. Once he got his legs under him his recovery moved quickly, and by Thanksgiving he was cruising along as if nothing had ever happened. I will never cease to be amazed at the tenacity and stubbornness of this breed that carries them through even the worst of times.
By Christmas of 2006 I had my healthy little Gunther back again. Such a joy he is, and such an inspiration. Sadly, after all the hardship the little fella has been through with IVDD Gunther has recently been diagnosed with PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy). Mid-March 2007 he started stumbling and bumping into things and he became lethargic and slept a good bit of the time. A trip to the vet and an eval of his eyes showed he is indeed going blind.
Now we are learning to live a new life with Gunther, IVDD survivor and sight impaired Dachshund extraordinaire. Being sight impaired myself I have a deep understanding of what Gunther is going through, and I'm trying my best to make things accessible for him and helping him adjust to his limited sight. So far he is dealing with this new disability in his usual fashon... with happy wagging tail and constant sweet disposition, nothing seems to dampen his spirits.
And so continues life with the little darling dapple Dachshund who was destined to be my little angel.
Karen and Kanine Krew
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