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Story of the Month - March 2004    



This is a story about a special little dachshund named Willie. He is a disc disease and back injury survivor. We hope that this story will give dachshunds and dachshund lover's everywhere encouragement and hope when faced with disc disease.

Our adventure started on Nov. 17th, 2003. Our oldest dog, Willie, woke up that morning and was not quite himself. He acted as if he was experiencing pain around his lower back and abdominal area. He was hunched over and walking very "light-footed" and skittish. We always watch him and did not recall anything he could have possibly done to injure himself. We observed him all day and found that he was progressively getting better at walking. That evening, he took a turn for the worse. He started yelping with pain and stayed in a hunched over position. Convinced it was his back, I rushed him to the Pet ER.

Knowing how important the timing is on a back injury, I immediately told the doctor that my doxie had a possible back injury and I instructed the nurse on how to pick him up and keep him still. When the doctor came in and examined him, he told me I was wrong with my back injury diagnosis. He stated that it was a severe abdominal infection and he gave him several shots and antibiotics to take. I then asked the doctor if he had ever heard of the Dodgers List. He was not familiar, therefore I talked to him about how I have been working with that group to help educate people about dachshunds and their backs. I also talked to him about how a dachshund's back injury could be mistaken for an abdominal injury because of the hunched over position. He replied that he was sure it was an abdominal infection and not his back. He stated the blood work he had done was off in certain areas to indicate that. My husband and I skeptically and very carefully carried our little Willie back home.

The next morning, Willie could not walk. I tried not to cry in front of him, but it was so hard. I immediately rushed him to my vet for another costly evaluation. The doctor received the blood work report from ER and stated all of it was in normal range. It was definitely his back! I was so confused about how the injury could have happened and also how it was so clearly misdiagnosed. I told the doctor that we did not recall anything that could have injured him and he replied that with degenerative disc disease, like what Willie had, it is just a matter of time before he injured his back. A slight sneeze could have triggered it. My vet then called the University of TN Emergency Vet Hospital to set up a surgical team. They said Willie was really bad off. They gave me 15 minutes to decide to go ahead with the surgery or not. Time was so important at this point. The surgery was going to cost $3000.00 on top of the ER Visit and all the follow up care visits. Things looked really bad. It was a lot of money and he only had a 50% chance of recovery. We took the chance….he is worth it!

Surgery went well. He spent several days in the hospital. The first few days were so hard because we would visit him and he did not know we were there. He was so drugged up that he just stared strait ahead the whole time. On the third day, we knew we had our Willie back. He was so happy to see us. He made mounds of progress as soon as we got their. Oh, what a relief!

At this point, he had a 6-8 week recovery period before we would know if he would ever walk again. It did not matter to us. We would get by because Willie was back!

Now, Willie is doing Excellent. He is walking, barking, and "strutting his stuff" again. We take extra precautions with him, but allow him to lead the most normal life allowed. We are so grateful and proud of our little Willie ! He has inspired us and encouraged us to go with our heart, always fight for our pet's rights and never give up hope…
-Stephanie Wheelock, mother of 4 super special Dachshunds and owner of

- submitted by Stephanie Wheelock

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