We've had our two adorable dachshunds Sam and Foufou since approximately 5 years. Sam is a little girl, very petite, nice and loyal, while Foufou is our sweet boy. He's a very funny yet stubborn dog who weights just a little more than he should. Being a real snuggler, he is always trying to get onto our lap.
Our initial plan was to not let the dogs into to sofa, but just like many other dog-owners have experiences, they just did it behind our backs. After a while it just became a cozy habit, which went well for a long time...
HOW IT STARTED
At the beginning of this year (a really happy start of 2020 ...) we noticed that Foufou did not always jump on the sofa spontaneously anymore, but looked a bit sad next to the it until we lifted him into it. At the time we had no idea at all that he probably already had problems with his back. A few days later my mother-in-law calls me at work. She had gone to pick up the children from school and found Foufou in the office, a place where he hardly ever sits down.
He could no longer walk.
I immediately drove home and contacted my vet. Through a few questions on the phone, they immediately thought of a hernia and referred us to the Orion veterinary clinic in Voortkapel (Belgium). I was also allowed to drop by immediately! So I put Foufou in a laundry basket and drove him to the clinic. My heart was pounding because of course I knew this was not good and that we were probably going to get bad news.
We were well received in the clinic. Foufou was immediately checked and examined. The verdict was harsh (even though it was delivered in the most gentle way): IVDD stage 5, which means the worst possible stage. Foufou had no feeling at all in his legs. Surgery is necessary to relieve the pain. There is then a 50% chance that he can walk back afterwards. If that is no longer possible, a wheelchair is a great solution for a dog to get around.
SURGERY OR NOT?
They could immediately do the operation, but the cost is very high. I was allowed to take 15 minutes to decide whether we are going to pay 2800 €, to be paid within 3 days. With three young children and renovations in the house, that is not an easy decision. I immediately started crying. I called my husband and my parents to ask if they could advance this amount. Fortunately they agreed (afterwards it turned out that my father understood € 800 instead of € 2800 :) ). In the meantime I was standing there with my Fouke in his laundry basket. He looked at me, so sad, and with a big kiss and hug I left him with the sweetest vet I could imagine. You could clearly see that he has a heart for animals, and that is reassuring.
I drove home with a scared heart. Together with my husband and children, and with Sam, we waited anxiously for long hours. Ultimately a redeeming phone call: the operation was successful, but they could not yet say which way it would go. Something positive was that the spinal cord was still pink, which actually means that there is still a chance. Had it been grey, we already knew that going out would be a lost cause. We hoped with all our heart that Foufou could walk again, but very honestly we especially wanted him to continue to live in a comfortable way.
After a few days we were allowed to pick up our sweetheart. I'll never forget his look when I went to get him. So helpless with his big cut on his shaved back. The first few weeks was bench rest ... . We massaged him every now and then and especially let his tail wiggle between the fingers. He was so helpless and endured it. It was also strange for Sam, because she didn't know her playful companion that way.
Then Corona came ... for Foufou actually a great gift because we were all at home all day, so we could also work very well on his rehabilitation.
There has been a long period of cleaning up pee and poop, doing rehabilitation exercises, of hope and pampering, of waiting for every little signal. After a while, wearing a diaper, he was able to shuffle around on his front legs. Dutifully they did all the exercises and regularly took the Foufou to physiotherapy.
Little by little we noticed small progress. I often pitted between his legs to see if he could feel, and with a firm squeeze, there was a reaction. That was a moment of joy because he came from total paralysis. His tail also started to move now and then, and sometimes a leg moved in his sleep. It was slow, it took a lot of patience, but at such moments we were always very enthusiastic.
Things kept getting better. After a while he was able to take a walk again with a sling under his legs. He gradually regained strength and after a while we were able to loosen the sling a bit.
A lot of cuddling, a lot of practice and hope and looking for the right motivation (walking in the forest, for example, is much better than in the garden, if food is brought out of the cupboard he can do more than you just call him. ... typical dachshund story: motivation = everything). A lot of aids were tried: a special harness, paw protectors (because seeing him scrape over the stones like that is quite a painful sight), urinal tapes ... and actually none of that worked. The harness did not go along any sides, so we made slings from towels ourselves, the leg protectors kept coming off so I bought sticky quintiles and that went a lot better, the pee-belt might hold back a few drops, but Foufou left whole puddle so we bought baby diapers. Now we no longer need those tools.
HOW IT'S GOING NOW
In the meantime we are so far that Foufouke can walk alone for a long walk. Sometimes we had to grab it on the way, but that is no longer necessary. He can go back wherever he wants, one day it goes better than the next. Sometimes he is still dragging, other times it seems nothing is wrong. We never dreamed that he would get this far. The most important thing for us is that Foufou is back the happy, crazy dog he was before IVDD.
And we are not there yet. He is still not toilet trained and can do a whole puddle in the house or put a little turd in his basket. And there are days when we sometimes sigh deeply, but above all we are very grateful that we have him back with us in this way! We still see him moving forward. He still goes to the physio every month, with a wonderfully optimistic and cheerful woman who can work wonders with him. We are very happy that we ended up at Orion and that we were helped so quickly. It is a clinic where your pet likes to be seen, where they know him and where they are pampered. It was an expensive and emotional adventure, but our Binkie is more than worth it! We wish all dogs who experience the same a quick recovery!
Sofie & Foufou