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--Success Story--    



by Debbie

It all began with a phone call on July 5, 2004.  It was a friend in desperate need of help.  Her son's Dachshund had just been run over by a car, leaving a litter of five puppies;  six days old.  She pleaded with me to come pick up the puppies and take care of them.  I have never been known to turn any animal down that was in need, but what was I thinking;  bottle feeding them every two hours, around the clock.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my youngest son, Cory.  He was a trouper, he never missed a time getting up with me to feed them all through the night.  This was my first true encounter with a Dachshund!  I fell in love with all of them, but my husband put his foot down on the quantity I could keep, but I did manage to keep two, Annie (the brown dapple) and Rooter (the brown and tan).  A friend of mine in East Tennessee, Jennifer Peterson, adopted two, Gretchen (the black dapple) and Savannah (the other brown dapple).  Sadly, the remaining baby, Stubby (the second black dapple) died from complications from a tick bite. He was, however, able to live a full year with his wonderful, adopted family in Louisiana.

On October 7th, 2009, I had my first encounter with IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease). Annie yelped as I picked her up and I knew something was wrong. Within a couple of hours she could no longer walk, was trembling in pain, her stomach was tense, and she was not her bubbly self.  We carried her to our wonderful veterinarians, Dr. Don Edwards, DVM and Dr. Amanda Zeagler, DVM, at the Hardin County Veterinary Hospital in Savannah, Tennessee. They explained to us about Dachshunds and their problematic backs, and IVDD.  They took x-rays and confirmed our fears of a back problem.  She was given Metacam, Tramadol, and Pepcid AC.  Then we were to carry her to Dr. Michael Newman, DVM, MS, at Veterinary Regional Referral Hospital in Decatur, Alabama, a three hour drive from Savannah.  After a CAT Scan to determine the extent of the damage, Dr. Newman assured us he could take care of her ruptured disk, she had not lost deep pain sensation.  The surgery went great, and after a three day stay in the hospital, Annie was walking, and she was ready to come home.  After six weeks of crate rest, Little Annie was back to her old self.  However, the same year, Gretchen in East Tennessee was experiencing some of the same problems as Annie was.  She had a great veterinarian at The University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, in Knoxville, Tennessee to do her surgery, and she made a full recovery.

On May 19th, 2010, Rooter started experiencing problems similar to Annie and Gretchen; wobbly legs, pain when picked up and trembling, then paralysis.  My son, Cory, carried him to our regular veterinarians in Savannah.  After an x-ray, our vets diagnosed him with a ruptured disk, we were to take Rooter back to our vet in Decatur, Alabama, for IVDD surgery.  He was given Metacam, Tramadol and Pepcid AC.  But, we had a problem.  I had just received double knee replacements and was in a rehabilitation center for physical therapy.  My brother, Ricky Melson, was gracious enough to accompany Cory on the three hour drive.  After an CAT Scan, Dr. Newman confirmed the diagnoses, deep pain sensation was not lost and Rooter was taken into surgery.  Three days later when Cory picked him up, Rooter was walking.  Another successful surgery, but unfortunately around the same time Rooter was down, poor Gretchen had ruptured another disk, and was taken into surgery a second time at UT College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, Tennessee, with another successful outcome.

If your keeping up, that's four surgeries so far on these little Dachshund's and unfortunately it doesn't end here.  On September 16, 2011, Rooter started having the same symptoms as before, the trembling, the wobbly legs, and tense stomach.  We carried him to our local vet, and due to his history, they asked me to carry him back to Decatur, Alabama the following day, so Dr. Newman could examine him.  They put him on Metacam, Tramadol, and Pepcid AC.  Since he wasn't paralyzed, Dr. Newman sent Rooter home to recover with the medications he was given and he prescribed strict cage rest for six to eight weeks.  However, when we pulled into the driveway Rooter was worse, and when I put him in the crate he could no longer stand.  We called Dr. Newman, and he told us to bring him back that night because if he lost deep pain sensation then he could no longer do the surgery.  Cory once again drove the three hours back, as I held Rooter, praying and crying the whole time.  When we got there, Rooter was tested for deep pain sensation and passed, so the CAT Scan and surgery was put off until the morning.  He was given a strong pain medication in his IV, along with his anti-inflammatory and crated.  In the morning he had his CAT Scan, and was diagnosed with another ruptured disk, in a different location as the first, and was taken into surgery.  When we picked him up three days later, this time he wasn't walking, and he could not urinate on his own.  We were told that sometimes this is normal after surgery, and he just needed time to heal.  I was scared to death learning how to express his bladder, and quite honestly I never got good at it.  I had to take him back to my local vet three or four times for lessons.  After a week at home, we had to carry Rooter back to Decatur, Alabama for further tests, since he was still not walking nor had he regained the use of his bladder, and did not want to eat or drink.  They wanted to do another CAT Scan, for fear he had ruptured another disk during his recovery.  But honestly, I couldn't afford another surgery, so we decided not to do the CAT Scan.  When we picked Rooter up to go home, the doctor that was on call for the weekend, advised us to either put him down or live with his disability. We took him home with little hope he would ever walk again or regain the use of his bladder.  After weeks and weeks of strict crate rest, we started to see small improvements.  I had made a walking harness out of a old bed sheet, which I used for all of the previous surgeries, and we walked him with it while we were walking the other dogs, just so he could get out and enjoy the sunshine.  One day he squatted and peed. We were so excited!  It wasn't much, but he was getting the feeling back in his hind quarters.  It took about six to seven more weeks for him to stand on his own, then the standing turned into walking.  His walk is still not pretty-- he kind of walks sideways at times, but he walks!

After I started writing this article, Rooter stepped into a mole hole and hurt his back again on the evening of June 18, 2014.  His legs got wobbly, he started crossing his back legs, and knuckling his back paws.  The next morning I carried him to my local vet and he was given Previcox for two weeks, Tramadol until his pain stopped (which was about five days),  and Pepcid AC for his stomach.  He was also put on strict cage rest for eight weeks.  As I am writing this article,  he is five weeks into his crate rest and is so much better.  When I carry him outside to do his business, he is standing very well compared to what he was doing, so I feel like we are going to overcome this episode.  Little Gretchen in East Tennessee is going through a similar issue at the current time with a disk in her neck, and she is taking Rimadyl.  So, if you were counting, that's five back surgeries on one litter of puppies.  My only regret is that I didn't know about Dodgers List until the Summer of 2014.  If I had of only known the early signs to look for, and caught the symptoms in time to prevent paralysis, then maybe one of the surgeries could have been prevented by strict cage rest.  I can't take it back now, so I have to move forward.  I am totally convinced that surgery did save my babies lives!  I feel so fortunate each and every day that I have them in my life, and I have chills just thinking about how close I came to putting Rooter down.  I feel like it is our job as victims of this disease, to spread the word about Dodgers List to all of the parents out there who do not know about IVDD and their many options.  I want to thank my sons, Dustin and Cory, and husband, Don, for all of their support in helping me take care for my babies.  On June 29, 2014, my babies celebrated their 10th birthday!