On December 30th 2022, our journey began when I returned home with my niece and nephew and noticed that Dougie, our beloved Dachshund, didn’t follow me outside. Worried, I called him, but he didn’t come. I realized something was wrong and immediately took him inside, where I started searching for his symptoms online. Initially, I thought we could wait for the vets to reopen after the Christmas and New Year holidays, but I eventually decided to take him to their emergency team, who suspected either a paralysis tick or IVDD. The vets prescribed rest and medications, and Dougie returned home with us.
However, Dougie’s condition worsened two days later, with both his back legs becoming paralysed, and he became incontinent. I contacted the vets again, and they advised me to keep a watchful eye on him and come immediately if there were any changes. Dougie’s condition remained the same, so we went back to the vet for a neurological exam, which revealed that he had no deep pain sensation, indicating IVDD. X-rays were required to confirm the diagnosis, and I admitted him to the hospital, thinking I would pick him up the same night.
But the X-rays revealed that he had two ruptures in his T10 and T11. The specialist, who was seven hours away, discussed the options of euthanasia or surgery with us. After five days in the hospital, a CT scan was arranged, which showed the severity of his condition. We went from less than a 60% chance of recovery to over 90%, making the decision to proceed with surgery an obvious choice.
At 5 am, I picked up Dougie with an IV bag and catheter bag hooked up to my car and drove him for 7 hours to the specialist. Once we arrived, I called the nurses to take him straight out the back and change his IV and catheter as I still hadn’t held him after a week.
After waiting for an hour, I saw the surgeon and then drove back home. The surgery went well, but Dougie spent two weeks in the hospital, and it took him a week to gain slight voluntary movements while still relying on a catheter and bladder expression. The team that took care of him fell in love with his need for attention, and I had warned them that he was a vocal dog.
It’s been a long journey with many ups and downs, and I have shed many tears over the past 10 weeks since the surgery, of which he has been at home for 8. He’s been making progress at a safe pace, and his physiotherapist isn’t worried about anything. We have physio sessions every fortnight through Zoom and are about to start home hydrotherapy sessions. Dougie is finally overcoming his separation anxiety and is comfortable being left alone for a few hours when I go to work.
I knew this journey would be hard, but I never realized how emotionally exhausting it could be without a supportive team behind me. Fortunately, my sister, her husband, and my mother have been my absolute rocks throughout this journey. My sister would take care of Dougie initially so I could have time to buy groceries or grab a coffee and relax. My mum would take care of him during our visits so I could eat or shower without him losing it because he couldn’t see me. A kind lady paid forward a pram that has been the best thing I have ever owned.
Dougie can now walk on his own, albeit wobbly and still working on his foot placement, but we are going farther in our assisted walks. His personality is shining through again, and his tail hasn’t stopped wagging since he’s been home. During our last physio session, our therapist was overwhelmed and pleased to see him as his happy, quirky self, and she agreed that the pain medication he was taking made him very sedated.
The other day, Dougie got into trouble when he found his way into the garden bed while I was filling up the water bowl for our other dogs. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but it’s been such a rewarding journey watching him progress.
Lexie & Dougie