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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

We're all snuggled up on the couch watching Dick Clark as I have for as long as I can remember (except maybe when I was really little and my grandmother watched Lawrence Welk ring in the new year).

Nathan and Frankie had their annual dental cleanings this week.  I  was very concerned with Nathan getting anesthesia.  But, I didn't want to neglect his dental health.  Turns out he had gingivitis and the vet put him on antibiotics.  Frankie was A-OK.

Not much progress in the last couple weeks in terms of walking.  Still holding steady at one 1/2 mile per day + 2 short walks.  Still working on getting him to try to pee on command.  He can nearly empty his bladder on a long walk thru the park trail marking territory.  He's nailed the fact he gets a kibble for each pee pee, so he does it at least 10 times thru the 1/2 mile trail.   Hoping this translates at some point to normal peeing.

I can't believe its been 9 months since his surgery.   Here's hoping for big progress in the new year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to say a moment to say Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to all!  All I wished for this holiday season was for Nathan to be able to walk and maybe even run a little.  We're almost there.    May the new year bring health and prosperity to everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A pee-pee connection is made

After 2 weeks of intense potty training, Nathan has finally made the connection that when he pees (mainly when marking territory on walks), he gets a kibble.  Now when he does a little squirt, he looks up at me for his kibble.   In the last few days, he's even walked onto our front lawn (when we take them out for quick potty runs) and done a small pee pee, not marking territory.  I think he can feel when his bladder is full now.  But, he can't feel to know when it's empty.  Hoping that with enough training, I can give the pee pee command and make him go enough times to empty the bladder.  Its a tall order, but he a good learner and very food motivated.

He's been walking pretty well this last 10 days.  We walked 3/4 mile last night and he was not ready to stop.  At the last visit, the acupuncturist put him on yet another herbal - Jai Bing Fang.  Sounds like a Star Wars character to me. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Researching on the Internet

It's amazing the information that is on the internet.  I spent hours today researching bowel incontinence and treatments.   We are still working on re-potty training, but no mental connection there yet.  I actually found a very odd research article from a Veterinary college from 1988 about an artifical sphincter surgery on dogs that can resolve the problem.  It was an old article and I could not find any other similar research.  I did find one of the co-authors email addresses as he still teaches at that college.    I also found an article by a vet who does animal chiropractic treatment combined with cold laser for this as well.    Meanwhile, we'll stick to our acupuncture and re-training and hope for the best. 

Our test to move Nathan's acupuncture treatments every 3 weeks failed.  He had a horrible 3rd week.  So, the Vet moved us back to every 2 weeks again.  It took Nathan 3 days to recover from his setback, but he's back where he was again as of today! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Potty Training 101

The vet moved Nathan's acupuncture visits back out to 3 weeks for another try.  This past Thursday was the 2 week mark.  And, like clockwork, things fell apart.  Aside from his decrease in walking strength, he pooped in bed 4 days in a row before even 5am.   I feel like part of it is he may think its OK to do since its been 8 months now.  So, this weekend, I started going back to potty training basics.  Go potty outside, get a kibble.  Unfortunately, this also means scolding him if he poops in the house.  I feel awful about having to do that because I don't know if he can really control it.  But, I think we are at the point where we must retrain him.

I'm curious what other people's experiences in this area have been?  I'd love to hear feedback or suggestions from others whose dogs lost potty control and needed to work to get it back.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lizards better watch out!

Nathan has had such a great week.  Check him out today walking like a and steady!

He's walking almost as if nothing ever happened.  You can hardly tell he has a weak side now. Now that's a happy thanksgiving!

And, happy thanksgiving to everyone!
Warm Regards,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Out of the Blue - Tail Wagging

Who would think after 8 months Nathan would finally start wagging his tail??!!  I came home from work the other day, and Nathan was standing (yes, standing) at the door wagging his tail, really wagging it.  Wow, all this time, he never has been able to really wag his tail.  It would have very small movements, but not like this! I remember reading all those articles about the order in which recovery happens...tail wagging is supposed to be first, then potty control, then walking.   This is just another reminder that recovery continues to occur, month after month.  Nathan continues to surprise me.  He is such an amazing dog!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting to a stable place

So, we are finding that Nathan is now doing best with 2 short walks and one longer walk (limited to about 1/2 mile).   Overall, he's getting about 1 mile of total walking per day.  This seems to keep him from having setbacks while still toning his muscles.  We'll stay at this level for awhile and see how we do.   One bit of good news, over the last week, he has managed to empty his bladder on the long walk a number of times.  With any luck, we can get this happening on the short walks.  Not sure if we'll ever get to the point where we can just run him outside to go potty.   


Sunday, November 6, 2011


I need to sidetrack today to brag about my little Frankie, aka Doodlebug, so named for his compulsive need to drink water and subsequently pee.   Yesterday was the Dox-a-Palooza, which is DARE's annual fund raiser (Dachshund rescue).  For the 3rd year, Frankie took home 1st place in the Lick-a-Lot contest (most face licks in 1 minute).  At 152 licks, he beat his nearest competition, which was 93 licks.  Nathan was there to cheer on his best friend....and..Nathan...

is back in good shape after his Thursday acupuncture treatment.  He walked all over the park at Dox-a-Palooza and those who know him from our normal local dog park were rightfully impressed.   It was a fun day for all and I had two very tired doxsies when we got home! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A bit of a set back

After 2 1/2 weeks of Nathan walking like a maniac, Tuesday came and something was wrong.  He could barely walk.  I didn't panic on that first day.  Then, Wednesday, same thing.  Slightly better, but nowhere near where we had been and he really needed to walk with his sling.  So, then, panic began to set in.  Could he have ruptured another disk or was this just extreme fatigue?  He had an acupuncture appointment with the vet on Thursday, so I tried to keep calm and waited for today.  So, I relayed the events of the past 3 weeks to the vet.  Immediately he said, it was probably too soon for us to have switched from every 2 weeks of treatment to every 3 weeks.  He examined Nathan and said he had low Chi.    We will go back to treatment every 2 weeks again.  We gave Nathan a rest tonight, no walking.  We'll slow start walking, shorter walks again tomorrow.  Hopefully, we haven't caused too much of a setback. 

I can't deny I am a bit heartbroken as this is really the first major setback that we have had.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On to the next hurdle

OK, so Nathan can consistently walk the entire distance of our long walks, wobbly at times, but he's got the endurance now.  So, check that off the recovery list.  One thing he still struggles with is the way he puts his back feet down.  He still does a little upside down foot stride before his foot turns to the proper upright position.  Its just for a split second, but its enough to scrap one toe on each foot, more so his right foot, which is the weaker side.  Before each walk, I wrap a little fabric bandage around that toe on each foot.  I had stopped for awhile to see how severe the drag was and I've had to start again.  Its been about 2 weeks now.  Hopefully, we can test it again in another couple of weeks. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He earned a chewy stick tonight!

I'm not sure what's going on this last 2 weeks, but Nathan's walking improvement is crazy.   Tonight, he walked 85% of our long walk, which is close to a mile.  It's almost 60% more than just yesterday.  You can see his confidence growing.  You can see his excitement at being able to go where he wants to go.   Its so strange after 7 months of slow and steady improvement, to see this spike is the opposite of what you would expect.  I keep hearing about the dreaded "plateau", but it doesn't appear to be anywhere in sight.

I don't think this is going to be a hard-candy Christmas!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hiding under the bed, again!

It's the simple things.  Before Nathan's injury, every night before going to bed, he had a ritual.  He'd run around the family room couch, then dart into the guest bedroom and hide under the bed.  Last night, for the first time in 7 months, he did a little run around the couch and then ran under the bed.  I use the word "run" loosely, but he did walk very quickly.  It's a big step that he is making decisions to walk instead of scoot around the house.  Although he walks outside on the sidewalk, he still scoots in the house.  But over the last week, I've seen a big change.  He tries to walk instead of scooting.  

The last 10 days since his last acupuncture treatment have brought marked improvement in his walking stability and endurance.   He also appears to be more confident that he can walks, so he tries harder.   He is consistently able to do 1/2 mile walks outside.  I'm really feeling that by year-end, he will be fully recovered in his walking. 

Unfortunately, he did poop in bed this morning  :(

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crash & Burn? No!

So, Monday came and as I feared, Nathan's 4-day acupuncture high was gone.  He was back to his strength from the prior week.   Tuesday, same thing.  UGH.  But, as it turned out, it was just a couple of days of needed rest.  Tonight, on our walk, he was a fireball!  He was practically running.  He set a new distance record by a bit.   He's even starting to choose to walk in the house sometimes instead of just scoot. 

It's much better now that the temperatures are getting cooler here in Florida because its so much easier on him when he's not overheating.   I'm sure this is helping us quite a bit.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Special Thanks!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who had sent such warm wishes for Nathan's recovery!  Each one is so touching and inspirational.

After each acupuncture treatment, Nathan usually has 3-4 days of amazing strength.  Then, we typically see a bit of a decline from that high.   So, it will be interesting to see where we land tomorrow.  As for today, I am absolutely thrilled at his progress.  He now can walk the entire length of our shorter walks.  No more having to carry him home.  In addition, he's is walking slightly more than halfway on our longer evening walks.  Since we live in hot Florida, we reserve the longer walk for the evenings.  Nathan wears out much faster in the heat now, so we don't push as hard during the midday walk.  The shorter walks take about 15 minutes in total.   We do two of these a day.  This is the first time I've felt really confident that he will be able to fully recover his ability to walk.  We don't have full potty control yet, but I'm hoping that with strength in his legs will come better control to hold in poops and empty his bladder.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Acupuncture Day!

I love acupuncture day! I can always count on super-Nathan after his treatment.  Tonight, Nathan walked a full 1/2 walk distance unassisted for the first time.  This was about 20% further than yesterday and about twice as far as about a month ago.  Walking at normal speed, 1/2 walk is about a 10-minute walk at a good clip.  Of course, it takes us about 20 minutes now, but who's counting!  Now the acupuncture vet wants to move his treatments from every 2 wks to every 3 wks.  We've done a total of 7 treatments over 10 weeks so far, along with using the chinese herbs I previously mentioned.  As the Monkees once sang "I'm a believer"! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back to using the sling

Although Nathan's walking has become steadier over the last 2 weeks, his endurance has not increased much.  He has a set distance he is able to walk before he wears out.   So, we are testing going back to using the sling to supplement the length of the walks.   Once he appears to be unable to walk unassisted, we put the sling on and see how he does.  We tried this for the first time last evening.  He was SOOOO excited to be able to motor along.   I could barely contain him.  When I picked him up to give him a break, his little feet were still moving like crazy in the air.  The sling (which as I've mentioned is just a thin scarf) just barely supports him, but that 5 or 10% of support allows him to really walk.   We are going to test this for a week or so and see if it increases his overall endurance.   Fingers crossed....  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A slow week

It's been a slow week for progress.  Nathan is walking a bit further and a bit steadier, but definitely not a banner week.  Today, we went to the dog park.  This is the only time Nathan actually empties his bladder.  He's overcome by all the smells.  When we first got there, he literally did a normal squat and peed for a long time.  It was so strange, because it looked like a normal pee that a healthy dog would do.  But, at home, he has yet to do that.  He peed at least a dozen times at the park, marking everything in site.  I wish I could take home those smells to my front lawn!   His best friend (other than Frankie, of course), Apollo, was at the park today and they played for quite a while.  When Apollo saw Nathan from across the park, he came running over.  Nathan was sooooo happy!  They are just like children.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Do Chinese Herbs work?

This is a question that I've tried to research over the internet over the last 6 months.  There is little in-depth information on these as they pertain to dogs.  Double P II was prescribed for Nathan at the time of the injury by the vet who was doing the acupuncture at that time.  What little research I found on that drug suggested it was toxic over time.  So, I did not use it for more than 1 week.  The vet who is currently doing Nathan's acupuncture prescribed Ba Ji San, and on this most recent visit, Hindquarter Weakness.

With all the therapy going on at the same time, its impossible to isolate the impact of these herbs.  That being said, Nathan has been on the Hindquarter Weakness herb for almost 5 days now.   I do see some improvement in the strength of his weaker right leg.  His gait is steadier now than it was a week ago, although his overall endurance has not increased measurably.

In any case, the boys are both ready now for Halloween!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Another new therapy to consider?

Nathan may not like his acupuncture visits every other Thursday, but I do.  He always is a bundle of energy afterwards and walks like a maniac. 

At this Thursday's visit, the vet told me he discussed Nathan's case with another acupuncture teacher and neurosurgeon in our area.  This doctor is leading the way on platelet/stem cell treatment for animals (using their own platelets).   As doxsie owner himself, he told my vet that if it were his dog, he would do the treatment.  He has had good results in situations like Nathan's, esp. where his recovery is hindered by one leg being weaker than the other.  The treatment is done on the weaker leg.  My vet said he would do it too, if we aren't were we want to be in another 5-6 weeks.  So, need to begin considering that treatment.  I've read very good things about it on the internet in treating arthritis in animals.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The 6-Month Mark

Hard to believe 6 months ago yesterday was Nathan's surgery.   Time to reflect on what he can and cannot do:
Can Do's
  1. Spinal Walk about 10 minutes unassisted.
  2. Hold in pee pee and poop, if tended to timely.
  3. Mark territory with little pee pees
  4. Play in the house
  5. Snuggle
Can't Do's
  1. Empty his bladder
  2. Walk for more than 10 minutes unassisted.
  3. Jump or climb stairs
Hmmm.....pretty darn good!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Penny videos

HOPE.  I've lived on it for 6 months now.   If you are going through this with your dog, there will be ALOT of days when you feel like there is no hope for recovery.   The amazing thing is, just when you are having a few of those days in row, there will be some form of improvement out of nowhere.   While I was searching for hope in the form of YouTube videos, around the 3 1/2 month mark, I found Penny.  The first video of Penny was at 3 months.  She was exactly in the same point in her recovery as Nathan, just starting some steps of spinal walking.  After a bit more looking around, I found a second video of Penny, this one at 9 months.  Low and behold, she was spinal walking like a pro.  She was getting around perfectly.  I thought, well, if she can do it, so can Nathan.   Penny became my poster child of Hope.  Below are the 2 video links for those who have a day (or ten) where they need Hope.

at 3 months:

at 9 months:

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Time to retire the sling.  Nathan is walking unassisted 50% further than he was just 2 weeks ago.   We've stopped using the sling now.  Nathan has enough strength and coordination now in his back legs to be able to walk without falling over every 10 feet.  He also seems to have learned how to compensate for his weaker right leg.  His biggest struggle with walking was falling over to the side of this weaker leg.  But, now it doesn't stop him.  I also hardly ever have to lift up his butt to get him walking.  He's now able to stand up on his own, even if he falls over.   I think part of the improvement also comes from his gaining confidence in his abilities. Walking without the sling is good for his confidence and is also forcing him to improve his balance.  

Can't wait to see where we are a month from now!!  It's a competition to get as well as Penny....I'll tell you about the Penny competition tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Apparently, we should go away more often

I'm so amazed by Nathan's progress in the 5 days we were away.  On our walk this morning, Nathan walked further unassisted than ever before.  Did he need a break from us?  Were we pushing him too hard?  Maybe.  Perhaps a few days of taking it a bit easy gave his body time to rest and rebuild.  This is something to keep in mind as we continue to work towards recovery.  Not much progress on the potty front though.  He does squeak out little pee pees, but still can't empty his bladder.  I'm hopeful that these signs of small pee pees are a stepping stone to normal bladder function.   Another improvement is the amount of steps Nathan takes around the house.  Although he walks outsite, he tends to scoot around the house on the carpet.  I've noticed him making an effort to walk instead these last 2 days.  And, he had a pretty darn good wrestling match with Frankie last night. They haven't done much wrestling since the injury.  It's good to hear Nathan making his Chewbacca sounds.  Yes, he sounds like Chewbacca from Star Wars when he wrestles.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Home Sweet Hot Dogs

Vacation is awesome, but there's no place like home!   The best thing of all was seeing that Nathan is actually walking BETTER now than just 5 days ago when we left!   So, if there was any doubt that he was getting the proper amount of exercise while we were gone, that doubt is gone!  We went for a walk as soon as we got unpacked and Nathan walked much steadier, fell over less and needed hardly any assistance getting back on his feet.  I can't even put into words what a relief and joy that is.    Looks like we have a pet sitter to stick with!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Talked off the wall

So, after my day of panicking yesterday, I decided to go ahead and call the tech last night and see what was going on. I know, I am overprotective. She told me they had spent the day at the park and then went to visit the vet's office to say hi to everyone. She emailed me some pics of the boys. They were supposed to go to the park again today. It was a huge relief to know they weren't spending every day in their room. After all, they aren't dogs, they are short hairy humans!! Can't wait to see them tomorrow night!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A very worried mama

So, we are on day-3 of our out-of-town trip. We have a doggie-cam in the room where we put the dogs when we go out. The vet tech staying at our house was supposed to walk the dogs 3 times a day, plus spend time with them and stay there overnight. This was so the dogs wouldn't be stuck in their room too many hours at a time. Every time I view the camera, the dogs are in their matter how late, no matter how early.  I guess no one will care for your babies the way you would. If only Nathan would get his potty control back, we'd have so much more flexibility for doggie care.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mrs. Brown, you've got a lovely daughter...

That's the song Nathan and Frankie will be singing for the next 5 days.  Tomorrow morning, we leave to go out of town for 5 days.  A vet tech, who is also the daughter of Dr. Brown (the vet who did Nathan's water therapy) will be staying at our home caring for Nathan and Frankie.   We've never had anyone stay at our home with the boys because we used to put them in their favorite doggie day care facility.  But, Nathan can't go there now.  

I felt like a crazy neurotic woman making this list of all the things I wanted the tech to know.   I have a full typed page of all kinds of instructions.  I even pre-cut strips of bandages to wrap around his toes that get scraped up when he walks.   I'm sure I've forgotten something.   It will be interesting to get her email updates each day!   Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My fire dog

Nathan is a fire dog, at least that is how the acupuncturist describes him.   When he enters a room, you know it.  He commands attention.  Nathan has learned that the vet gives him lots of treats during his acupuncture.  At today's acupuncture appointment, Nathan would not stop barking at the vet until he got his treats.  It fact, he kept making such a fuss, the vet had to give him a B-12 shot in his head to calm him down.  

This past week had been a tough one because Nathan has begun pooping 3 times a day now (which is actually how often he used to go before all this happened).  Over the last few months, he had only been pooping 1-2 times per day, which we got by using the ice cube trick.   This 3rd poop has been coming at all different times during the day, sometimes when we aren't home, and causing a mess.  Looks like we will have to do a mid-day ice cube.  I conveyed all this to the vet today and he felt it could be that Nathan was actually improving his motility and therefore getting back to his "normal" poop count!  So, maybe good, maybe bad, depending on which way you look at it.   In any case, I cleaned up a fair amount of poop this week!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nathan, the sheepdog?

Since Nathan was a pup, he insisted on the "family" walk (mommy, daddy, Nathan, & Frankie).  Although, he would still enjoy a walk with whomever took him, he clearly had his preference.  If my husband went to put on Nathan's leash and I was in the other room, Nathan would run to find me and start poking me hard behind the legs with his nose, herding me into the other room.   While he can't herd us right now, he still makes his feelings known.  When I walk him alone, he acts like he can barely walk.  And each time he does this, of course, I panic.  Is  there something wrong? 

Tonight's family walk renewed my confidence that he still has lots of improvement ahead of him.  He was full of energy and set a new record for walking unassisted, going about 1 minute further, and then completing the balance of the long walk with his sling.  Since he began walking unassisted about 2 wks ago, he hasn't been able to complete the long walk.  So, tonight was a great accomplishment!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Is it Thursday yet?

I am counting the days to Nathan's next acupuncture treatment.  I was a skeptic, but I have to say, I'm convinced that the electro-stimulation acupuncture has alot of merit.   The key is finding someone who is an expert (this vet, as I have previously mentioned, is also an instructor).  Nathan has had 4 treatments, each 1 week apart.  Each time, post-treatment, he had increased endurance and strength.  After our last appointment, the vet wanted to skip a week to see what would happen.   The first week, Nathan maintained his steady improvement.  But, clearly in this last few days, there has been no marked improvement.  We are now 12 days out from the last treatment.   Yes, it could be my imagination, but I really don't think so.   The test will be how Nathan does after this Thursday's treatment. 

Is it Thursday yet?????

Monday, September 12, 2011

Those no-progress mornings

I hate mornings like this.  In the back of my mind, I hear the doctors saying "one day Nathan will plateau".  When I have one of these mornings where he seems to barely be able to walk, I have to remind myself that like anyone recovering from an injury, there will be bad mornings.   But, it doesn't make it any easier to push back the feeling of frustration and know this morning is just a blip on the radar.    But, the last 2 days have not shown any progress.  At this point in his recovery, it's important to look at progress based on a week at a time, not a day or 2.   You'd think by now, I'd be an expert at doing that, but not so much! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting close to the 6-month mark

In the back of my mind is always the guideline that a dog will be at about 80% of where they are going to be at the 6-month mark.  At this point, we are at 5 1/2 months and Nathan is not recovered to the point that I would want to consider 80%.  So, we continue to work hard with him each day to ensure that he makes progress each week.  In fact, he does make progress each week. Some weeks, the progress is small, some weeks, it's amazing.  It's Sept 10, and Nathan can now do 3 5-minutes unassisted walks each day.  He is now steadier, he falls over significantly less as he walks unassisted.  Today, on our morning and afternoon walks, he walked 1-2 minutes further unassisted.   I worry each day about him plateau'ing.  I know that day is inevitable.  We have exactly one week until our trip to Cancun.  We want to have Nathan as healthy as possible for the vet tech who will be staying at our house taking care of the boys.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Walking without the sling begins

It was time to start testing Nathan's walking abilities outsite without his sling.  To our surprise, he was able to walk about 4 minutes completely on his own.  Then, we continued the walk with his sling.  So, this became our new walking procedure.  4 minutes unassisted, then the balance using the sling.   He was not able to walk as far even with the sling after the 4 minutes on his own.   Having to work so hard to keep his balance appeared to be wearing him out faster.   It seemed worthwhile to do a shorter overall walk in order to have those first few minutes of unassisted walking.   Nathan was also doing quite a few little squeaks of pee pee on these walks.  At our Sept 1 acupuncture visit, the vet was very positive about our progress.  So much so, he felt it was time to move to every other week of treatments instead of every week.  He felt that Nathan now had a good chance of making even further improvements.   Woo hoo!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crest Lake Park

It had become our normal Saturday morning ritual to take Nathan and Frankie to the dog park since they were puppies.  Hard to believe, but its been nearly 5 years of our Saturday ritual.   Since Nathan's injury, we were no longer able to go to the park.  Once Nathan was able to take some steps with his sling, we began taking the boys to the dog park again.  Although Nathan preferred to scoot on the grass rather than walk, he did like to mark his territory, so the park was the only place that he made any attempts to empty his bladder.  This was the main reason we began going to the park again despite the fact Nathan could not walk or run around.  It was August 27th, and now, Nathan could walk steadily with the help of his sling.  So, the park was fun again!  Nathan made laps around the park and marked everything in site.  It was awesome to see him peeing!  Our old Saturday ritual was back in place.

August 25th - Treatment #3

Nathan had his normal Thursday 2pm acupuncture treatment.   Later, after dinner, we all embarked on our normal long family walk.  Just like the after the prior week's acupuncture treatment, Nathan was fired up!  He walked the entire distance of the long walk, assisted, of course.   Here we go again, we thought.  We'll have 3 days of super-Nathan, then the crash.   Next day, long walk.  Day after that, long walk....except... it kept going.  No day-4 crash!  We officially retired our life-saving pet stroller!!!  We no longer needed it.  Nathan could walk, with the sling, the entire length of the long afternoon walk.   It felt like a miracle.  We could feel the muscle tone building in his back legs.  Not only that, he was squeaking out pee-pees during these walks.  While he could not empty his bladder, he was showing signs of being able to pee on his own again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another 3 weeks

The vet acupuncturist was booked 3 weeks in advance. So, after this initial consultation, we had to wait another 3 weeks for our first treatment.   Nathan continued to walk with his sling and slowly was increasing the distance he could go.  At the time of the first treatment, he could walk 1/2 of the distance of our long walk, using his sling.  So, Nathan would walk his 1/2 walk, and ride in his pet stroller on the way home.   Finally, it was time for the first treatment.  We didn't have any high expectations, so we were not disappointed when we did not see any changes.   The 2nd treatment, 7 days later, was exciting.   For the 3 days following that treatment, Nathan experience frenzied behavior.  He had significant energy and wanted to walk and run, of course, using his sling.  We were elated.  The day following that treatment, Nathan walked the full distance of our long walk.  Same the next day.  After the 3rd day, he crashed.  It was heartbreaking.  We were right back where we were the week before, 1/2 walks.   When his 3rd visit rolled around a few days later, I described the week's events to the doctor.  As I cried in his office, he explained that this was normal.  That did not make it any less heartbreaking for me.  After that day's 3rd treatment, everything would change....

Monday, September 5, 2011

The famous pet stroller

We became well-known in our neighbor for having the dog who rode in the stroller!  People would all stop and ask how Nathan was and ask if he was getting any better.   By mid-July, Nathan could walk, with the sling, about 25% of the distance of our long walk.   He did not appear to be regaining potty control.   We were getting desperate to try anything.   The vet who did our water therapy had mentioned a vet who did acupuncture in our area who was actually also a teacher at the Chi Institute in Florida.   He was supposed to be an expert, so I emailed him and asked about acupuncture, specifically for potty control.  He responded that he'd had good results and we should bring Nathan in for an exam.   He was booked up 3 weeks in advance.   When we finally got in to see him, after examining Nathan and hearing his story, he gave us only a 50-50 chance.    He recommended that we give him 5 visits to treat Nathan and see what happens.   So, we did...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Frankie is sad too, the stroller saves the day

Our other dachshund, Frankie, had never been without Nathan.  We got Frankie 6 months after Nathan, so Frankie was by Nathan's side from when he was a pup.   He followed Nathan everywhere.   When we brought Nathan home from the hospital, Frankie was afraid of him.  He wouldn't go near him.  Even sadder, Frankie had no desire to go for walks or play without his very best friend.   Until Nathan was actually able to move around, Frankie would not interact with him.  Finally, Frankie started licking on Nathan again once Nathan was starting to move around.  The side effect of Frankie refusing to go for walks with Nathan was he began gaining weight.  His 13 lbs shot up to 16 lbs, at which point, he got put on a strict diet.   We needed to come up with a way to get Nathan back involved with our walks.   We found an inexpensive but sturdy pet stroller at   It was a lfe-saver!  Nathan was terrified to be in it at first.  He was shaking like a leaf.  But after a few times, he began to love it!  He was a true prince riding around in his carriage.  And, Frankie was happy again!  The pet stroller gave Nathan and Frankie back their beloved walkies.  

Entering the 4th month

As July came and went, we realized our hopes for a quick recovery were slipping away.  With the help of the water therapy, Nathan had regained the ability to walk several steps unassisted.  This was significant because it now allowed us to effectively use a sling to allow him to walk distances assisted.  The problem was, Nathan, being, well, Nathan, he wanted nothing to do with anything under his body.  As soon as we put a sling on, he froze up and refused to move.   I puzzled over how to make a sling that he would not really notice.  One day it came to me, His normal harness runs across the bottom of his stomach.  If I could hook something around that and run it back between his legs, one piece on each side of his tail, that might work.  But, it would have to be very thin, yet strong.  I found a long thin scarf of mine that fit the bill.  SUCCESS!  Something he didn't mine having on him.  Soon, we were going on short walks using the sling and after he got tired, the pet stroller.  Oh, I guess I didn't tell the pet stroller story....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our New Daily Routine

One thing we learned was part of our new routine was dealing with the lack of potty control.   I became an expert in emptying Nathan's bladder which I did about 5 times a day.   We were going through about 150 pee pee pads a month as I found it was much easier to do inside with him laying on his side.  I also learning a life-saving ice cube trick from a women on the handicap pet website who had a dog in a similar condition.   If you rub an ice cube on the dog's butt, it causes contractions and makes a poop come out, if there is one.   This significantly reduced indoor accidents by allowing us to control when Nathan pooped.   It did not eliminate the issue, but at least reduce it to none or one times a day.   Unfortunately, as we learned, regular doggie day places will not take a dog who cannot go potty.  So, when our 10th wedding anniversary long weekend came around, we were left scrambling to find a way to not have to cancel that trip.  We found someone who would take the dogs into their home and empty Nathan's bladder.  But, as it turned out,  Nathan was just too high maintenance at this point, and his feet got badly scrapped up scooting around on is own.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

5 Weeks Pass

After 5 weeks, it was clear that this was going to be a long road.  Nathan still was not able to empty his own bladder.  He was still having indoor pooping accidents.  He couldn't walk or even wag his tail.   We had read quite a lot about water therapy on Dodger's List and we called our vet to ask if he knew someone good in our area.   He gave of the name of a vet who specializes in rehab, including water therapy.   We immediately made an appointment.   It would be this therapy that would turn the tide for us.   Nathan did water therapy - first swimming pool, then treadmill, for seven weeks.  His appointments were twice weekly.  By the 3rd week, he was ready for the treadmill.  By the 7th week, he was doing 20 minutes on the treadmill.  It was nothing short of a miracle.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rehab Begins

As soon as we brought Nathan hoped, we began laser therapy.  Our regular vet was a certified laser center and had seen great results.  Nathan had 5 laser sessions over the course of about 10 days.  It would be difficult to say if this had any impact as he was so paralyzed at this time.  At the same time, we began acupuncture treatments to attempt to bring back deep pain sensation.  After 6 sessions, it did in fact appear DPS was returning.  Of course, it was hard to say if it happened naturally or was a result of laser and acupuncture.  After these sessions were completed, we focused on doing home physical therapy.  We were about 3 weeks out from the surgery at this point.  Our final visit to the neurologist was a disappointing one.  He told us Nathan would likely never fully recover.  He would never be able to run or jump.  And, it would be months before he would even be able to walk.  Now, the real work began.

Tremors and Fever

We managed to survive the first night of Nathan being at home again.  As morning arrived, we realized that Nathan's condition was getting worse.  The tremors were worse and he seemed to have a fever.  He was crying and could not be consoled.  We scooped him up and drove to the hospital where the neurologist was on staff, instead of going back to where he had the surgery.   It was a LONG 40 minute drive.   Once at the hospital, he was examined and admitted into the ICU.   The neurologist would not see him until the next day, so we waited, painfully, until then.   The call from the neurologist confirmed our fears.   He could not be sure Nathan had any deep pain sensation.  He felt the tremors were from a reaction to the mylogram dye.   And, he gave Nathan only 50% chance of recovery.   Could it get any worse?  Time to start considering whether Nathan should be put down or not.  We couldn't do it as long as we had hope.  So, we waited out the 5 days in the ICU.   A variety of IV and oral meds, and time, finally cleared his system of the tremors and he began to stabilize.   By the 5th day, the neurologist cautiously stated Nathan appeared to be regaining some DPS and was ready to go home.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

The next few days...

Visiting Nathan at the hospital over the next 3 days was dreadful.   He could barely move at all.  To make matters worse, his bad reaction to the mylogram resulted in horrible tremors.  He looked like an advanced parkinson's patient with severe tremors.  The doctors did not know what was causing them or how to treat them.  His surgical scar ran down nearly his entire back.  All he could do was cry.   It was heartbreaking.   By day-4, they told us we could take him home since there wasn't anything they could do for him there that we couldn't do at home.  He had a half dozen different medications each day.   He had no potty control, so we had to manually empty his bladder.  And, poops, well, they came when they came.  At this point, he wasn't able to hold in urine, so he'd have to always be on a pee-pee pad to catch leaking.   Since he couldn't move, we'd have to turn him over every few hours to prevent bed sores.    We didn't think things could get any worse.  Our regular vet suggested we take Nathan to the neurologist as soon as possible.  We made an appointment for the upcoming Monday, but it turned out we could not wait that long....

Day 2 - A new term - Deep Pain Sensation

The surgeon called us around 8am.  Nathan would have to have surgery immediately.   The next few hours were endless.   The surgeon called around 11am.   Nathan came through the surgery OK.  There was a badly damaged disk which the surgeon repaired.   That was the only good news we'd get.  The mylogram, a dye test that shows the surgeon which disk is damaged, did not go well.   They could not get the needle in and had to keep poking him.   It also appeared that Nathan had no deep pain sensation.     This is a term we would become all to familiar with.   As a dog's disc deteriorates, first they lose the ability to walk normally, they begin dragging their back feet.  Then, they lose the ability to have potty control. Next, the ability to wag their tails.  Lastly, they lose deep pain sensation.   This is caused by severe damage to the spinal cord from the pressure of the exploded disc.   Dogs who lose DPS, are less likely to recover the ability to walk.   We would find out, as we researched this disease, that time is the enemy.  There is a 12-hr window between the injury/start of symptoms and time of surgery.   By waiting until morning to operate, we had crossed this window.   The surgeon was unsure of what Nathan's recovery would be, but it wasn't good...

Day 2 - 2am - the nightmare begins

Something woke me at 2am.  I checked on Nathan who was sleeping in our bed.  He couldn't move.  I scooped him up and went into the bathroom and turned on the light.  I put him on the floor and he fell over.   My stomach dropped.  What was wrong?  I woke my husband, threw on some clothes and we were out the door on our way to the animal hospital.  The 15 minutes drive seemed like hours.  When got there, it seemed quiet, so we were hopeful the wait would be short.  45 minutes later, they finally took us back to see the doctor.  She examined him and informed us it was a disc injury that would likely require surgery. She left to call the surgeon at home and we waited.  When she returned, she told us based on what she decribed to the surgeon, Nathan could wait till morning for the surgery.  This would turn out to be a tragic mistake...

Day One - Everything seemed OK

Our Vet examined Nathan, checked his back, checked his neck.  Nathan was already breathing normally again.  Just to be safe, Vet gave him an injection of an anti-inflammatory in his hind legs.  With that, we were off to the dog park.  Nathan played in his usual style.  After our designated hour at the park, we stopped by a street pet fair where the boys gathered up a fair amount of treats from the various vendors.  Nathan was his usual happy self.   By nightfall, he seemed a bit lethargic.   By 9:30pm, our last potty run, he was limping a bit, but we passed it off as a reaction to the shot earlier inthe day.   A few minutes later, we were all in bed, unaware of what the next 24 hours would bring.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day One - The straw that broke the camel's back

March 26th started like any other Saturday morning.  My husband and I saddled up Nathan and Frankie for a morning at the dog park.  What we didn't know was Nathan had a disk in his back that was about to give out.  As we got the boys into the car, Nathan's harness was yanked back.  He began choking.   Out vet's office was only 5 minutes from our home so we jumped in the car and drove like maniacs.  By the time we arrived, he seems better.....