When IVDD strikes the focus is so completely on the affected dog but there is often another dog in the household too. At my place there is Poppy and Jess. This is Jessie’s story.
Our IVDD journey started with Poppy and Jess’s favourite walk to the local park which has a bit of indigenous bush in it. There they go off lead, sniffing everything, chasing magpies and each going along at their own pace. Poppy does lots of sniffing, Jess does lots of running and in between they check up on each other and me. They think it’s Brilliant.
By the end of that day Poppy was showing the early signs of IVDD. Jessie tried to sit with her on the couch after dinner, but got growled at and quickly changed chairs. In the morning she didn’t go for her regular walk, which, next to food, is the most important part of Jessie’s day. She hinted for an hour before giving up, only to be Left At Home whilst Poppy went out in the Car (to the vet).
Later, in the middle of the night, she was devastated at being Left Behind in the house whilst Poppy went to the specialist for surgery. When I came home alone it was to a very puzzled and clingy girl. Jessie needed lots of extra cuddles that day.
Once Poppy came home, it was obvious to Jess that the crate was the centre of attention. Attention is another one of Jessie’s favourite things. (If you are patting Poppy, you suddenly discover you are actually patting Jess.) At first she would approach the crate carefully, as Poppy had been quite savage with her when she gave her an enthusiastic welcome home. But each of them quickly adapted to the new normal and soon Jess was working her way into the crate with Poppy.
At first Jessie missed a lot of walks, as I couldn’t leave Poppy home alone in her crate with her cone and her catheter. Then my Mum would come over and Jess wouldn’t stop poking her until she’d take her out. Mum made a huge fuss of Jessie with these walks, really making her feel special. After a few weeks I got a pram and Poppy, Jess and I were out together again. I would clip Jessie to the pram and she learned to walk alongside and not to try to chase birds while clipped on! The resumption of our walks had a huge impact on both dogs. Poppy got out after weeks at home and Jess had her regular routine and place in the pack again. We were back to Normal.
When it came to Poppy’s “at home” rehab exercises, we gave Jessie special tasks too. To make the exercises bearable for Poppy, we used lots of treats. Jessie’s love of food made this problematic so she had to come, sit, stand on 3 legs and walk up and down the lilo too! So it was 2 engaged dogs, having fun, paying attention, achieving and being rewarded for their (slightly different) efforts, not one.
Being included is the most important thing in your dogs life, no matter the circumstances they fnd themselves in. IVDD is a very testing time for everyone, but it can also be an opportunity to strenghthen and enhance the relationships in your pack. Recovery, after all, includes everyone.
Liz & Jessie