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Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Day of Reflection

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since we said goodbye to our beloved Nathan. A day does not go by where I do not think of him and my heart breaks a little. I say a little prayer for him each night before going to bed. On our Christmas tree this year, we have a new ornament. The design was courtesy of Amber DaWeenie, which I turned into an ornament.
 
 
After several months of soul-searching, we made the decision to find Frankie a new brother. Frankie was very sad and lonely without his brother. So, we look online at the several dachshund rescues in our area.  
 
On the D.A.R.E site, we saw a cute little chiweenie named Petey. Petey was a stray, so they didn’t know how old he was. Based on the condition of his teeth, the Vet figured he was about 5. Frankie never liked dogs other than Nathan, so we were apprehensive about getting another dog. We drove over to the foster home with Frankie in tow. The first thing we noticed was that Frankie and Petey were about the same size, same color and had same white marking on their necks, head, feet and tails. More amazing was that Frankie did seem to be afraid of Petey at all. We took all this as a sign and adopted Petey immediately.

Upon bringing Petey home, we discovered he had a talent!   He was a dancer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9EvNbw5d9w
We call it the happy dance!

We took Petey to the Vet and discovered his teeth were far worse than anticipated. $1,300 later, Petey was left with only 15 of his 42 teeth. Not only were the teeth rotting away, but he had abscesses as well. So, he doesn’t get to enjoy hard bones, but we manage to find yummy treats that he can still enjoy. 
 
Petey and Frankie became good friends pretty quickly. At first, Petey was annoyed by Frankie’s constant licking and grooming. After a while, Petey decided he like it and returned the favor by grooming Frankie too. Now, they sit together and groom each other, often simultaneously.  

For Halloween, the boys of course dressed up like a hotdog and a taco!

November rolled around and it was time the Dox-A-Palooza (D.A.R.E’s big annual fund raiser). For the 5th time, Frankie defended his Lick-A-Lot contest title and WON!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b45MvMFjCq0

Now it’s the holiday season and Petey joined our family for his first holiday card picture (Petey on left, Frankie on right).

While I’m still missing a great big piece of my heart, we are grateful that we were able to bring Petey into our home and give him the love and care he deserves, while at the same time giving Frankie a new best friend.




Much love to all our furry friends. Happy Holidays!
-Heidi

Monday, December 31, 2012

Special Thanks & Wishes for a Healthy Peaceful New Year

As New Year's Eve approaches tonight, I wanted to take a moment to thank all the amazing people who sent our family such warm messages for Nathan.  It's been overwhelming all the love we received.  I can't say this past week has been easy, but we are doing the best we can.  We are very focused on Frankie and keeping him busy. 

I'm actually looking forward to getting on with the new year and getting a fresh start.  I have no idea what the year will bring, but I have to think the experience we went through with Nathan will lead to some purpose. 

Once again, thank you everyone for all the support!! And, I wish everyone a happy, healthy new year.

Much love,
Heidi

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Memory Book for Nathan

I wanted to put together a book of my Nathan memories.  I wanted to share it with his friends....


Click here to view this photo book larger
Start your own Shutterfly Photo Book today.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beloved Nathan



It is with deep sadness that we said goodbye to Nathan today. His poor body could no longer support his fighting spirit. Nathan is an angel who deserves to be able to run and jump and play in Heaven with the other angels.

From the moment Nathan came into our lives over 6 years ago, he brought us great joy. From the first moment I held him at the horse farm in Ocala and said “get the checkbook” to challenges of the last year, Nathan filled the room with love. He worked hard to protect us and his little brother, Frankie who followed him around like a shadow. 

My head is filled with “what-ifs”. What if we hadn’t gone to the dog park that fateful day? What if his extent of his injury had become apparent during the day instead in the middle of the night? What if the Vet on that night had told the surgeon that the surgery needed to be done immediately? What if a neurosurgeon had done the surgery? And yet, we can’t turn back the clock, we can only be thankful for the additional time we did have with Nathan over the last 20 months.

For those who will read this while searching for information on IVDD, do not take this as a death sentence for your dog. Nathan’s situation was unique and very extreme. Even as badly as the first surgery went, he still had a pretty good recovery and many happy days afterwards. My advice to those currently experiencing this disease with their beloved dog, never lose hope for recovery. Seek out the best veterinary care available in your area. Treatments are always advancing allowing for better and better outcomes. 

Thank you to all Nathan’s e-friends who supported him and sent him so many loving thoughts. 

-Heidi

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Another week goes by...

Tomorrow, Nathan has his 6th laser treatment.  So far, there is very little improvement.  He is still needing pain medicine to stay comfortable.   I thought maybe he was getting some strength back in his back legs, but he still cannot stand on his own.   Whatever the issue is with his shoulders and neck is really making it difficult for a meaningful recovery.

I fear this may not be going the direction I prayed it would.  We've got 8 laser treatment sessions scheduled, so we have another week to assess whether he can be pain-free again.  He has always been a fighter, so we'll keep praying for a miracle.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Tense Week

Today, Nathan had his 3rd K-laser treatment.  He is still on prednisone and his pain meds.  Yesterday, we started to notice the pain seemed a bit less.   He is now at least able to lay down on his own without us having to lay him down on his side.  He still winces a bit when I pick him up.  But, he is better able to move around the room (scooting).   He can't stand up, but when I play with his legs, he will kick them at me.   He definitely has strong feeling in his feet, but no ability to stand.   Now that he can lay down on his own, he is sleeping more comfortably. 

Next laser treatment is on Wednesday.   Crossing our fingers that we start to see some meaningful change to indicate that he will be recovering.

Again, thanks to all Nathan's cyber-friends for sending him e-love!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Rough Night

As the evening progressed last night, Nathan became more agitated and could no longer lay down.  I was having a hard time even laying him on his side to relax.   By midnight, we decided he needed to go get a strong pain medicine.  So, off we went to the 24-hour emergency hospital.   They gave he an injection of pain medicine and gave us Tramadol to take home.  

This morning, we took him first thing to his regular vet.   After examining Nathan, Dr. C felt that the issue was pain in the neck and shoulder area (in front of the area of the 2 prior surgeries).   He gave him an anti-inflammatory injection that stays in the system for a week at a steady level and reduces inflammation far better than the oral prednisone.    He also did a round of laser therapy.  He wants to do 7 more treatments, every other day, and see if Nathan bounces back.  

As of right now, Nathan is still quite uncomfortable, but he did sleep in my lap for a few hours today which was good since he was basically up the entire night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More bad news

After giving Nathan a day off on Sunday, Monday was no better.  In the morning, it was clear he could not walk at all.  I had an appointment with the vet who does his acupuncture on Tuesday, so I gave him another day to rest. 

By Tuesday, he was very agitated and still could not walk.   When the vet examined him on Tuesday, he agreed it was not good.   Of course, the only way to know for sure if it was yet another disk would be to do an MRI.  But, my husband and I agree we would not put Nathan through a 3rd surgery in 1 1/2 yrs. So, there really was no upside to doing an MRI.  We would treat him as if it were a disk issue.  It is possible that it is a very bad pulled muscle, but even today, Nathan is unable to stand.

It's clear Nathan's back is just a house of cards.  He's now taking his Double P, prednisone and valium.  He had acupuncture yesterday and today to try to give him some additional relief.  

It's going to be a long week, waiting to see if he can get any better.   I'm heart-broken.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Roller Coaster Ride Continues...

So, we are 2 1/2 weeks into our new treatment program.   We did not see any change after the first week.  However, after the 2nd treatment (and 1 week on Double P), there was a dramatic change.  Out of nowhere, Nathan starting walking around the house, even on the tile and laminate floors.   It was bizarre because it was so sudden.   He rarely walked on tile/laminate because it was slippery for him.  He'd walk on the carpet, but that was all.

He was suddenly a walking machine.  I let him off leash in our neighborhood (quiet & not a thru-street).  He was like a kid in a candy store.  I can't describe how happy I was!   

Of course, then came the inevitable crash.  After walking great for about 1 week, the last 2 days, he has struggled with his left rear leg (which is his bad leg).   So, we'll be giving him a break today at least to see if its just as simple as he is sore from being a walking maniac.  

Next treatment is on Tuesday.  Looking forward to seeing what happens.

Of course, I also want to talk to the vet about that article that has everyone buzzing......
http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Education/Universities/Cambridge-University-research-offers-hope-to-paralysed-people-19112012.htm

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Testing a new protocol

Nathan's acupuncture vet recently returned from an international veterinary Eastern medicine symposium in China.  At the event, a US vet presented a case study of 12 dogs with IVDD.  Some were worse than Nathan, some were not as bad.   The vet presented his course of action.  He used a much higher level of electricity with the acupuncture than would normally be used.  He also felt strongly that the dog must be taking the herb, Double P II.   The treatments are given at a higher and more frequent level.   My vet said this vet had amazing results.

So....We are doing that higher level electrical current once a week and using the herb.  We are just going to do a 3 week test to see if there is any incremental change.  Nathan had his 2nd treatment yesterday.  Too soon to tell anything yet.    If there is no change, then more than likely Nathan has hit his plateau.

Stayed tuned....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Four-Time Winner!!


Yes, he did it again!!  Frankie is the 4-time winner of the Dox-a-Palooza Lick-A-Lot contest.  He cannot be beat!! :)

He did 160 licks on one minute.   Next closest competitor was 116 licks.  

Nathan was there to cheer on his brother.   He got some attention too as quite a few people stopped us and asked if they could take Nathan's picture because he is so handsome.

So, all in all, I was a very proud mommy that day!!  A fun day was had by all.

Monday, October 15, 2012

On the run!

Nathan is a walking machine lately.  He's pounding out 1/2 mile walks with ease.   He's even running, or doing his version of it...see video below...takes a couple of seconds, but then he picks up quite a bit of speed!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0OeizuMv4k

I still leave his feet with some bandages on parts of them because he still will forget himself for a moment and drag, scrapping his feet.  I've been slacking off around the house those and haven't been working with him as much to walk, not scoot around the house.  It's crazy that he can walk so well outsite, but then scoots in the house.   Sure seems like more work to scoot than walk??!!  

A few more weeks till Dox-a-Palooza!  It's the big annual DARE event in our area.  Frankie will be defending his title as 3-time winner of the lick-a-lot contest.   I think he's a shoe-in to take the title a 4th time!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Heading into Fall

Yeah!  Made it through the hot Florida summer.  The boys are happy to be done with the 90 degree days.    Nathan has had a really good month for walking.  In the last month, he hasn't had really any days where he couldn't walk and needed a day of rest.   That's the first time since this all started that we've gone this many weeks without some bad days (knocking on wood so as not to jinx us). 

We purchased Steadfast (per Cher's mommys suggestion) about 3-4 weeks ago.   Nathan's been taking his once a day dose.  By the way, its smells absolutely dreadful, but apparently it tastes great!!  So, there could be something to this supplement, since Nathan has been doing consistently well.  I guess the only way to know would be to stop it, which I don't want to do just yet.   The more consistently he walks, the stronger his legs will get, creating a snowball effect, so don't want to stop that momentum now.

Maybe one day Nathan's legs will get strong enough that he won't fall back into his poop if I don't support him while he's pooping!!!  That would be nice!!


  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

National Walk 'N Roll Dog Day

Today is a day dedicated to IVDD and those dogs who are wheelchair bound.  Although they are tied to a wheelchair, they have such great spirit and are such fighters!   See link below to view lots of pictures of these wonderful dogs.  

http://nationalwalknrolldogday.com/

Today, I am thankful that Nathan can walk as well as he can.   And, I'm thankful that I have a wheelchair in the closet that I have never had to use even once.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

We've been home from our North Carolina vacation for about a month now.   Before we left, it was just starting to get really hot here in Florida, but now, we are in the 90 degree everyday place.   Nathan has had a really hard time with this heat.    Since we got back from NC, he had been really struggling to walk.  It was so disappointing after how well he was doing in NC.

His last acupuncture was 2 days before we left and we had a 6-week stretch in between treatments.    We'd gone this long once or twice before, but this time, we really noticed a decrease in his abilities.   Normally, 2-4 days after a treatment, we see a big improvement in walking, which slowly degrades as time goes by.    He had a treatment last Thursday and we were worried because we saw no improvement, even by Monday, which is unusual.  In fact, his walking had deteriorated so much, we couldn't even take him on a walk with Frankie.  Then, as if a switch was flipped, on Wednesday, he was a walking maniac.  This morning, he practically ran down the street on his walk.   

It's a crazy roller coaster ride with Nathan.   It doesn't seem like we are going to be able to stop the acupuncture treatments because he is just a mess without them.   I also have started keeping the one toe on each foot bandaged with the tape all the time now because he is much more comfortable walking that way.  

I finally broke down and bought a ramp that sits on top of the steps to go in and out of our house.  Nathan will not likely ever be strong enough to go up and down the stairs, so this way he can walk on his own which makes him very happy.   We are in training mode now.  He's learning how to use the ramp as it is a bit steep.   He doesn't like new objects that were not there before, so he is very suspicious of the ramp.   So.....kibbles to go up the ramp and kibbles to go down the ramp!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2 Weeks into our North Carolina adventure

We rented a house for 3 weeks in the North Carolina mountains.  I wasn't sure how Nathan was going to do walking around here since all the walking areas are up and down hills.  But, 2 weeks in, Nathan has gotten quite a bit stronger by walking these roads.   The attached video shows him walking up a big hill this morning.  It's a bit hard to see just how steep the hill is, but it's pretty steep.  We also have a small set of rock steps leading in and out of the house.  He can actually walk down the steps.  I'll try to get a video of that too.  It's the very first steps he's been able to do, so it's really exciting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

3 Months Past Surgery #2

It's hard to believe 3 months have gone by since Nathan's 2nd surgery.  As of this week, his walking stamina is where it was prior to the surgery.  He is back up to walking about 1/2 mile again.  He doesn't seem to drag his back paws much anymore.  I never have to wrap them anymore.  That seems to be a result of improvement from this 2nd surgery.  

He has developed a very bad habit of scooting around the house.  We are battling with that.  There really is no excuse for scooting around the house when you can walk 1/2 mile outside.  So, we play games of walking around the house for treats.   We are still doing cavalettis and he's pretty darn good at them now.  I truly believe this exercise has made a world of difference.  He actually is starting a get a little butt!!   And, its a pretty cute butt!

But, no, potty control is not returning... :(

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tug-of-War

Sometimes you just need a break from exercises and therapy.   Nathan rarely plays tug-of-war with Frankie anymore because he isn't as mobile as he used to be.  But, this morning, out of the blue, Nathan had a wild hair and was roughhousing with Frankie.   Play video with sound to get the full effect. 

It's always good to see Nathan acting like a "normal" dog!!  Everything was fine until the stuffed animal's ear pulled off!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViJfofRclJY&feature=youtube_gdata_player


Friday, May 18, 2012

Cavalettis!!

We've starting working on cavalettis with Nathan to continue forcing him to shift weight to his back legs.  He can do about every other one near perfect.   He gets tangled up sometimes, but everyday is a little bit better.  He's walking pretty well now.   Still have not gotten potty control back, but he is peeing alot more on his own, leaving less to be expressed.   Poops still are not being controlled.

Video of cavalettis.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEEWE-UawaI

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Video update at 7weeks

We are 7 weeks post- second surgery.   See Nathan's video.   He's doing pretty darn well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgIpoRUuUik

We have started doing cavalettis to strengthen his back legs.  I'll get a video of it soon (as soon as he gets a bit better at it).  This exercise is basically where the dog has to step over something, like ladder rungs.  This forces the dog to pick up his front leg shifting weight to the back legs.  Nathan is pretty clumsy at this point but already after just a few times, he's getting the hang of it.  We are also having him eat dinner with his front legs up on a low step with weight on his back legs.  All of this is to stop him from hunching forward all the time.   Prior to going to this neurosurgeon, we were not aware of how important this is....but we know now!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Swimming Pool therapy

Part of Nathan's rehab therapy this time again is swimming in our pool.  In Nathan's case, its to get him to move his back legs apart from the front legs, which doesn't happen while walking.   He has developed a bad habit of shifting his weight to the front legs.  So, swimming is supposed to help this. 

Of course, Nathan HATES the pool.  He has hated it from the first time 5 yrs ago went we taught him how to get out of the pool in case he fell in while running around it.   Anyhow, when we put him in the pool and let him swim on his own now, he moves his front legs, but not the back ones.  So, we are forced to get in the shallow end with him.  My husband holds up his body and I move his back legs while he moves his front.   Well, actually, Nathan scrambles like a maniac with his front legs to try to get out of the water.  After a minute or 2 of me moving his back legs, he starts moving them on his own.  We go thru this exact same routine now each afternoon. 

He is almost back up to being able to walk his 1/2 mile walk around the park trail.  I'm guessing another 2-3 weeks, we'll be at least back to where we where before the 2nd surgery, which is completely amazing to me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nathan gets his 5 week post-op check up

The neurosurgeon examined Nathan this morning.  He is 2 days short of 5 weeks from this second surgery.   She was pleased with his progress, but he's got a long way to go.   He is leaning his weight forward rather than giving equal weight to his back legs.  We have exercises to do to force him to put more weight on his back legs.  One exercise is putting his front legs on the first step of doggie stairs forcing him to stand on his back legs.  This can also be done by just lifting him up on his back legs on forcing him to support himself on the back legs.  So, in addition to working on getting walking again, we will be focusing on building stability on the back legs.  

Nathan sure does like being the center of attention!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A quiet week

We are at exactly 4 weeks post-surgery.  Nathan is about the same as he was a week ago.  We are needing to use the sling on longer walks.  He can walk on a short walk without.   Unfortunately, he is definitely being lazy around the house and defaulting to scooting without even trying to walk first.  We are trying to play the "walk around the house for kibbles" game alot to remind him that he can walk.  I think we are battling a little bit of depression on his part.   Seems like its going to take a bit of effort to get him out of his current state of mind.

I don't blame him for giving up a bit after going thru so much and starting over again.   But, he is a fighter, so on we go......

Friday, April 6, 2012

3 weeks post surgery #2

Nathan is doing well at 3 weeks.  He can walk unassisted on a short walk but he is very wobbly.  So, on our longer walks, we are using his sling.  He requires almost no support from it, but just enough to keep him steady.  His legs have the strength, they just don't have the coordination yet. 

We are looking for signs of potential increased improvement from where he was prior to this 2nd surgery.  One small, but interesting sign, is he does not appear to be scuffing up the top of his feet by his toenails.   We had been limiting the walking on cement and had been doing our long walks on the park trail where there is dirt instead of cement to decrease the scuffing on his feet.  But, I'm not seeing that now as we have been doing a bit of street walking.   I'm hoping that is a sign that we will have some additional improvement from where we were.   Not sure what to think on the potty control front.  Some days, I think its better.  I see more pee pees.  But, no clear signs there.

We are going have to work on the scooting around the house habit, again.   Maybe he's just trying to get me to play the chase the food kibble game around the house!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Nathan walking video 3-30-12

My miracle dog.  He'll come into view on the video at about 18 secs in. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igWDof0gbo8

WOO HOO!

Free at last!  Nathan had a great check up with Dr. Chauvet!  He's out of crate rest and allowed to walk....which amazingly, he can do already.    I'm amazed that he can walk.  He's very wobbly but he can do it.  13 days after surgery.   It's crazy.

Let the road to recovery begin...again....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Only a few more days of confinement to go

Can't wait to see the surgeon on Friday morning!  Just 2 more days.  Nathan can definitely stand up on his own and support his own weight already.  He's walking OK with the sling (just for potty runs).  He is somewhat unsteady and his left leg is noticeably weaker than his right.   This is ironic because up to this point, his right leg had been the weaker one.   We are all anxious to be able to get him walking again, but these 2 weeks are going faster than I thought they would.   The surgeon used the dissolving sutures rather than staples, so the surgery site already looks really good.  There is one small spot that is not fully healed, but the rest of the surgery site is already healed up. 

He had an acupuncture session yesterday as that acupunture doctor felt it was important to do a treatment right away.   We'll be back on our every 2-3 week rotation with that for a bit now.

Look for news on Friday afternoon...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One week down, one to go

Made it thru the first week of crate rest.  One more week to go. Nathan is ready to go.  When we go outsite for potty runs, he practically wants to run.  If I didn't have the sling on him, I think he'd take off.   It's really as if he did not have any surgery last week.    I can't wait till this next week is over to see where we stand in his recovery.  

It's truly amazing the difference that a skilled surgeon can make.  Nathan could not even lift his head up after the first surgery.  This time, I don't think he even knows he had surgery.   I can't help but wonder how the last year would have gone if we had the right surgeon.....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day Four comes to a close

I'm amazed how well Nathan seems after this surgery compared to the last.  Although he is on crate rest, he is allowed to walk with a sling to try to go potty.  His back legs are moving pretty darn well.  He can't fully support himself, but he definitely can move those back legs.  He appears to be full of energy so the next 10 more days of rest are going to be tough.   It's as if he did not have surgery at all. 

One thing on this surgery that I wanted to mention.   In addition to fixing the disks, the surgeon also did the fenestration procedure.  This reduces the chance of another disk rupturing from up to 20% down to 1%.  So, she assured me there is little chance of further incidents. 

I'm feeling really positive about what the outcome of this will be.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day Two begins

It was a relief to bring Nathan home yesterday.  I can't believe his hair is all shaved off again.   He is definitely no worse than he was before this surgery, which is a huge relief.  I'm really hopeful now that he will actually be able to improve more than he had. 

He is on a 14-day crate rest though.  14 days is not too bad.  Also, he is allowed to stay in a playpen size area, rather than a confined crate, so its really not too bad.  We made a furniture fort so he can stay in the family room with his normal bed, so he's not too freaked out.  I am able to work from home this week, so I've got my PC and phone right in the area where he is confined. 

The doctor has given us a long list of to-dos for the next 14 days.  Range of motion exercises, massage, ice, etc.  He is allowed to walk with a sling on the front lawn to go potty.  That's how I was able to see he can still walk.   For me, that's amazing since after his first surgery, he literally could not even move his body the slightest bit.