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Story of the Month - September 2003    




I’m guessing that you are reading this because your doxie is having back issues. I hope Henry’s story will be an inspiration to you all.

I am the owner of Henry, a 6 yr old red shorthair 'tweener'. He has occasionally had back problems since age 2. His first incident was a result of jumping off the bed. In the past, the pain always went away after a few days of steroids (Pred).

However, Henry woke up one day in mid May of this year and was ataxic (spelling?) and in a great deal of pain. He could not walk and could barely stand. He was severely 'hunched' over. I rushed him to our local vet, and he immediately recommended we take Henry to the Univ of Missouri (in Columbia, MO) Vet Hospital. We live in St. Louis, so it was about a 100 mile drive each way.

The neurosurgeon (Dr. O'Brien) did a series of neurological exams and suggested a myleogram because he came to the conclusion that Henry suffered from intervertabral disk disease and either had a slipped and/or ruptured disk. The myleogram showed a fully ruptured disk and they gave me the option of surgery (with an upfront estimate of $1800-$2200) or putting him down. The latter was not even an option, and they gave the surgery a 50/50 shot. Doing nothing would result in paralysis. Of course, I opted for the surgery.

4 hours later, the doctor (Dr. Fox) had completed the surgery. He said Henry's disk had completely ruptured and there were pieces of the disk throughout his mid spinal column. He stated that he had removed as many of the disk fragments that he could and we would then hope for the best.

Henry was hospitalized at UM for a total of 10 days. They had an intern assigned to him, doing daily sessions of PT and hydrotherapy. The intern called me religiously each day with an update on Henry's condition. Henry slowly made progress and they finally removed the urinary catheter and he was able to urinate on his own (with the help of some type of meds for the first 2 days). The following morning he defecated. Obviously, this was great news - regardless if he was ever able to walk again. Well, towards the end of his stay, he starting taking a couple steps - by being supported/balanced with his tail.

On the 10th day, we made the trip back to UM to pick him up. What an exciting day. It was so great to see his eyes light up when he saw me. What a shock to see my boy with all his hair shaved off and 16 staples in his back. We had a glorious reunion.

I took him home and continued the PT and hydrotherapy and Henry slowly began to regain his motor function. Initially, he was very wobbly in the rear – dragging his left foot and occasionally falling over to one side. For the first couple weeks, I supported him by either a towel under him, or by gently holding him steady by the tail. By the 2nd week he was walking pretty well on his own. I can report that it is now 3 months post-op and he his back to about 90% of his old self, walking/running and having a great time. The only change is that I don't allow him on steps or on furniture (jumping is a big no-no).

I hope Henry's story is an inspiration to anyone else who's dach suffers from Intervertbral disk disease. IMO, the key to successful recovery is to identify the problem as quickly as possible. As soon as you see signs of ataxia, hunching, unwillingness to walk and just an obvious display of pain – get your dog seen ASAP by a knowledgeable vet. I highly recommend the staff at Univ Missouri Columbia. To my surprise, his vet bill came in at the very low range of their estimate ($1820). Money well spent IMO.

Thanks for letting me share with you. Henry is sitting here at my feet as I type this and wants to wish the best to those who are reading this.

- submitted by Mike - St. Louis, MO




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