We have 2 dachshunds; Dobie is a standard smooth black and tan and Rocket is a tweenie smooth with a brown coat. They are both 11 years old this year.

In June 2015, my husband and son had just come back from a short trip to Melbourne, where we had spent a few days before a conference I had to attend. They had picked up our 2 sausages from the kennel earlier in the day and that night, my husband commented to me over the phone how strange it was that Dobie did a poo as she was having her dinner. If only we had known then that that was one of the early symptoms of an onset of IVDD. I often think what we could have done differently had we known more about IVDD.

He called me the next morning as I was getting ready to head to my Melbourne conference to say that Dobie wouldn’t, or couldn’t, move out of her bed. He rushed her to our vet who immediately referred her to PVS in Osborne Park. Luckily, the specialists were on duty that day and Dobie had an MRI that confirmed a level 5 IVDD and that one of her discs had blown and she needed surgery to remove the fragments that were embedded on her spinal cord. We left her in the good hands of Dr Tim Caporn.

The surgery itself was a success but Dr Tim put her chance of walking again at 50-50.She had no deep pain sensation. She was bowel incontinent and we were taught how to manually express her bladder at the end of her week-long stay at the hospital. The 2 months that followed were difficult. Dobie wasn’t crate trained. While she was not anxious or stressed being in the crate and despite having her fur brother Rocket to keep her company, she was bored and resorted to tearing up her pads, bedding and eating her poo, a habit she has unfortunately kept til today. I also found her rehab and bladder expression challenging, given at this time, I was 8 months pregnant and I found it difficult to bend down and squat to her level. Both my husband and I were working and we also had a 3 year-old human child to look after and then a month later, a newborn baby as well.

The next few months were a blur in terms of what we were doing with Dobie. All I remember was the wave of emotions as bursts of happiness and hopefulness when she would make small gains were replaced by sadness when she would stagnate or even regress. I refused to get her wheels because I wanted her to walk again on her own hind legs! I would search for miracle stories of level 5 IVDD sufferers walking again and clung to that hope. I just wanted my old dog back.

Fast forward to now, Dobie still can’t use her hind legs but she is happy, healthy and most importantly, pain-free. She went through a period where she battled constant UTI’s and was continuously on antibiotics but thankfully we have now kept that under control for almost 2 years! She gets regular acupuncture from Rowena at Acupaws and uses the aqua treadmill with Carmen at Active Pet Rehab. We are lucky that we could afford to hire help and we have someone that visits her during the day when we are both at work to express her bladder as well as do rehab exercises every week. This is important to keep her muscles from wasting away. She has her wheels which we use for walkies and when she’s at home, she just scoots on her bum like a seal (we have tiled flooring in the house). It took me a while to realise that my old dog never left. She is still the same as before, smart as ever! She still barks like a Doberman and she still loves all her squeaky toys 🙂

Sari & Dobie
(March 2020)