Saturday, January 05, 2008

My Dog's Back & Why I Suck

I haven't been around the online world much at all since last Thursday, when my dog started acting strangely. She's a miniature dachshund with a long spine. On Thursday night, she started acting strangely when we'd pick her up - she'd wheeze like she was experiencing discomfort. She also was walking around with her tail down all of the time. This was one of those times I wished my dog could talk. Just that morning, she and I were running around upstairs playing tag with one of her toys in tow. In the evening, when she was exhibiting the strange behavior, my husband and I determined that whatever was wrong with her wasn't so bad that it affected her appetite, bowel movements or her ability to walk around - but I was going to have to take her to see the vet the next day.

Friday morning, after examining Samantha, the vet determined that it was, in fact, Sam's spine that was causing her pain. We have ramps for Sam in the house so she can run up into the window seat when she wants and run back down when she's done. Dachshunds aren't supposed to jump up and down on furniture nor are they supposed to walk up and down stairways. Sam doesn't do stairs at all, but on occasion she will jump up on a couch if nobody is around and will jump off of it when she wants. We tried putting ramps up to the couches, but she just jumps off of the couches instead even if the ramp is there. The vet said that she's seen dachshunds with Sam's issues who never require emergency spine surgery in their lifetimes, but she's also seen dachshunds like Sam who do require the surgery in the end. She did note, though, that she's never seen a lean dachshund that needed spine surgery.

Luckily, the damage to her spine is not so bad as to require emergency back surgery, but Sam isn't in good shape. Vet's orders include a diet (Sam weighs in at a beefy post-holiday 11.6 lbs. when she is ideally a 10 lb. dog), an anti-inflammatory pill twice a day and for Sam to get physical rest. Of those three things, the physical rest seems to be the one that is most difficult to achieve. Sam was already on a weight-control dog food - but we're in the process of switching her to Prescription W/D which is supposed to be even more of a weight-control food than what she's been eating. She's eating it just fine and the change in diet isn't affecting her adversely at all. The vet and I discussed possibly crating her, but since Sam freaks out in a crate and will spend her energy trying to break out, the vet agreed that a crate may not be conducive to physical rest. The vet and I determined that it may be best to block off a part of our kitchen for Sam and confine her to that space when my husband and I are not around to play “dog sofa.” Normally, Sam has free reign of the main floor of our house when nobody else is home - but that won't work while she's recovering. When we take her out to do her business, we have to carry her outside and put her down in a place where we expect her to find an appropriate spot quickly and then pick her up and walk her back into the house and place her in her rest area.

As I write this, I am sitting lengthwise on our couch one way, my husband is sitting lengthwise the other way and Samantha is resting on my calves. I've spent the whole day on this couch with her to make sure she isn't moving around much. I suspect tomorrow will be more of the same. I didn't think there was a whole lot of improvement throughout the morning, but recently she's showing signs of feeling better (yay!). Now, it'll be even more of a challenge to keep her from moving around too much since she's feeling better thanks to the drugs. I'm going to have to break the news to her that the vet said she is supposed to be resting for at least the next week - possibly two. I may have to talk to the vet about maybe prescribing something to make her a tad drowsy or re-think the crate idea if Sam tries to move around too much.

I've been miserable worrying about Samantha since Thursday night. I feel like the majority of her problems are my fault. I didn't stop people from giving her extra treats at the holidays. I'm guilty of giving her bully knots and dried chicken breasts to chew. I didn't monitor her weight closely enough to realize my mini-dachshund was starting to resemble a sausage. Granted, some of her other caretakers are guilty of fattening her up while she was in their care for weeks at a time, even though they were left with specific diet instructions. In the end, though, she's our responsibility. We tried to get her to stop jumping up on the couches - but we obviously didn't try hard enough. Now, we have a pup with a major pain in her back. So you may not see me online on Twitter, Seesmic or Utterz much until Sam's medical issues clear up. I'm just not in the best of moods and I feel like a complete ass. We let our pup down. Hopefully, she'll recover from her injury and we can make it up to her by slimming her down. She may not enjoy the process, but at least she'll have a shot at being around a lot longer than if she doesn't go through it.

1 comment:

Brightpictures said...

I have the same problems with my dachshund. These problems are congenital and feeling guilty doesn't help. It's not your fault. You're doing your best. I feel your pain.