there is LIFE, there is HOPE
Last August, my terrier Henry, of 14 years, died. It was so sad, and I believed my heart could not handle having another dog. My husband reminded me, “Never say never!” Although I did make concessions for him because, he is a Dachshund guy. When he was a child, he had had ‘Fritz’ for 13 years, and someday, he wanted another Dachshund. I said I could be convinced to change my mind if the dog was a “she”, was a “full-grown” dog, and dropped out of the sky!
Well, that is exactly what happened in January of this year. Maria had had several homes in her four short years of life. In her last home, she lived in a backyard with a dominant male who was twice her size. (Whew, poor thing!) The family needed to give her up because of their expanding family. Upon meeting her at the “rescue house” of my sister, my family fell in love with her. She was so sweet and gentle, and the most beautiful little lady we had ever seen!
We would have taken her right then, but she was still weaning her two female puppies. She and her two little puppies were spayed and adopted with the help of the local rescue group. We adopted Maria in the middle of January. Her name had always been Maria, and we were not going to change it because we felt she needed all the stability we could give to her. We gave her the middle name of “Rose”. She fit right in with the family. When we came home, she always greeted each and every one of us at the door with kisses.
As it happens with IVDD, one minute she was fine, and the next minute she was not. We knew something was wrong with Maria when we noticed those first symptoms. She yelped when we lifted her, and she would shake. We thought she may have fallen and had a bruise or something, so we just let her rest. It regressed rapidly by the hour until she no longer wanted to stand up. When she did get up, she walked around with that “hunched- over” look. She would lay down often to rest.
We took her to the vet the next morning and, since surgery was not an option for my family, she was prescribed steroids with a taper schedule and strict crate rest. The vet told us to carry her out to do her business. Over the next few days, we watched as she regressed even more until she was not able to walk and her knuckles hung down. During this time of regression, I found Dodgerslist.
I scanned the main page with my eyes until I focused in on this: “Is your dog paralyzed? Not sure what to expect regarding quality of life? View Tabby's and Clark's video before you make any decisions that you cannot undo!" The first video I saw on the Dodgerslist site was the one of Tabby. I watched it over and over again, and I was stunned and amazed at how happy Tabby was. I showed the family the uplifting video, and we all knew that we would keep Maria Rose as long as she was not in pain and did not have random elimination all over the house. (Upon learning about bladder expression on your site, we all realized even that could be managed.) We all decided, then and there, that it was all going to be okay. So, I stuck my head in Maria’s cage and I told her, “We will love YOU even if your legs don’t work,” and I got sloppy wet kisses in reply!
I kept the vet informed of Maria's deterioration throughout the weekend and took her back to the vet on Monday morning. Her back legs did not work at all anymore. When I handed Maria over to vet tech, I cried like a baby. I knew she could not bury herself under her covers and I did not want her to get cold. I asked him to please make sure that she stayed covered up. He was so nice.
She went through a series of Dexamethasone shots with overnight care. I share a car with my daughter, and she had it for school that next day. I did not want Maria to think she was abandoned again, so the next day, I rode my bike to the vet to give her a kiss. I also gave her t-shirts that the family had worn to give her comfort.
We picked her up on Wednesday evening. She was no longer in pain and was still able to eliminate on her own. While following the Dodgerslist recommendations for crate rest, we watched and waited for healing to take place. Time heals a bunch of woes.
During one of her potty breaks, Tabby’s video was confirmed to me when I realized Maria just wanted to be a dog in any way she could be. When I was holding up her paralyzed back legs, she was trying to dig a hole with her front legs! That cracked me up!
Each day, I would read the list of Dodgerslist emails to and from folks as a way to educate myself. I found that knowing what could happen took a lot of the scariness out of it for me. I read about many people working through various issues, step by step and one day at a time, with a massive support system in place. I got tips to keep her occupied and answers to questions I didn’t even know to ask. But mostly, I received a calming spirit from all the folks on the list. Somehow they knew if I was calm and educated, then the pup gets better options! Thank you to all who moderate this list and for all the folks contributing stories, information, and photos. It helped us not to panic.
To make her time in the slammer more productive for healing, we kept her in the same routine and rolled her crate from room to room as she would have done could she have walked there herself. She “followed” us all to the spots she would have normally followed us to. She was right there with me in the kitchen when I was cooking, the TV room, folding laundry, and watering the flowerbeds. Keeping her in her same routine took much of the stress out of her day. She ate chicken-broth popsicles that would spin round and round in the bowl as they melted. We tried to make the crate rest as normal as possible for her. (Meanwhile ..... it was a riot watching the members of the household opening the door of her cage and sticking in their faces and rubbing her belly as she gave them kisses! We all figured it was something she needed.)
I really want to thank the leaders of the group (and the masses) for ALWAYS using the word “STRICT” when referring to crate rest. I would see Maria in her cage, and when she looked at me in “that SAD way,” the only thing I wanted to do was to have her snuggle up next to me on the couch and give her little kisses. The word “STRICT” flashed in my mind like a NEON SIGN, and I resisted my temptation to do so. I would have been so sad if I had caused her any more pain and grief!
Every few days, Maria would hit the next milestone of recovery. She started with little spurts of standing, then she started the reciprocal movement of her legs with knuckled down feet. Then, she became able to place her feet normally. Then she started wobbly walking which eventually became more stable walking; and then, she got rid of the sling!
She is an official graduate of the Dodgerslist eight weeks of crate rest! She isn't exactly totally “free;” however, it is nice to once again snuggle up on the couch, and watch her slowly get her “sea legs” back. She is happy and healthy, and we owe so much to this group! I no longer feed her in her crate. I opened the crate this morning, and Maria sort of bounced out of it, almost saying "Good Morning World, I feel GREAT!" She still cracks me up!!
Maria is still crated all night long and if we are not home. During the day, I watch her for signs of fatigue. When I think I see that she is tired, I put her “back in.” She loves her crate. I am teaching her to STOP at steps. Now that she is feeling better and doing most of her walking to potty, it is easy to forget the Dodgerslist "No Steps Rule!"
You all know the feeling of helplessness and fright when that little sweet critter goes down. Tabby's video, on the main Dodgerslist page, was instrumental in my whole family understanding that Maria could live a happy life. As a “rescue,” she just had to be given the chance. She had already been through so much.
I pray this is her only “episode”. I pray that all of the pups who suffer from this will all have the happy ending of no pain and the companionship of someone who loves them like crazy!
I think back to that first
day when I found Dodgerslist and I read, “…before
you make any decisions that you cannot undo!”
I remember what my mother taught me when I was
Where there is LIFE, there is HOPE.