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Friday, July 10, 2015

Post # 29: The Back!

When you adopt a dachshund you learn that their long backs are their weak point.  Henry was a young, athletic dog.  He caught possums and birds.  He would fly off the couch to confront any new sound that might threaten the household.  And we worried about the toll our stairs, steps, and his flights onto and off of the couch would take on his back.

For my part, I built ramps.  We had a ramp for every couch in the house and for our bed. 
I had a series of ramps built so our dachshunds could come into and go out of the house without jumping or climbing steps.
A small ramp led from the mudroom up to the doggy door in the wall.  Another short ramp led from the doggy door in the wall to the backyard porch.  And then a rather long ramp carried the dogs from the porch to the backyard lawn, four feet below the porch.  We put a fence and a gate around the porch so PD and Henry wouldn’t be tempted to take the steps.  I put a lattice fence along either side of the long ramp so they would not be tempted to jump off when they were only half way down.

Still, dogs don’t always make the best decisions.  Henry took one of his flying leaps off of the couch one evening and hurt himself.  He didn’t let us know he was hurt until later.  Not until he had aggravated his back by going down the front steps.

Henry was hurt bad.  We were scared.  He never cried, he just wouldn’t/couldn’t use his hind legs.  We took Henry to our vet and had him checked out.  Henry was given some pain medication and we took him home.  Henry did the mandatory crate and rest routine.  He got better.

And then, Henry hurt his back again.  Henry had no feeling in his back legs.  He was walking on his “knuckles.”  We went back to the vet.  The vet told us that there was a place in San Antonio that could do the back surgery on Henry.  We were also told that there were more failures than successes with back surgery.  Our vet was also not in favor of putting Henry in a wheelchair.  He reminded us that dogs in a wheelchair needed a lot of help with bodily functions/elimination.  He suggested we keep Henry crated for a couple of more days and that we watch him. 

So we did.

The next day, Henry seemed a little better.  And then he got worse.  I called the vet.  It was time to try surgery.  I got the name and phone number of the hospital that did back surgery on dogs and gave them a call.  We were at the hospital three hours later.

The new vet examined Henry and determined that he would be a good candidate for the surgery.  We left him in their hands.  It was a long, sad drive home.  But at least we had hope.

We returned a few days later to pick him up.

Poor Henry.  They had shaved off a large patch of hair down his back, and he had a lot of staples over his spine.  One of our friends had put their dachshund through the same procedure.  She had described her dachshund as looking like a football after the surgery.  She was right.  With the bare skin and staples, he really did look like a live football.  Henry was so glad to see us, and we were equally happy to see him.  It didn’t matter what he looked like.

We were warned that Henry might not get back the full function in his rear legs.  We watched Henry over the next few months as he got better.  He was wobbly at first.  Sometimes it looked like he was trying to walk sideways.  And standing on three legs to pee was a challenge.

But Henry got stronger and he regained his footing.

I knew Henry had made a good recovery when he caught his next bird.