Sigh. It’s so very true friends: loving a dachshund is not for wimps. About four weeks ago Rufus was attacked by a big dog. His wounds healed nicely, he appears to be no worse for wear and that horrible day is just a distant memory now.
Trying to return to our normal life pre-attack, we were at the beach this week Tuesday and Thursday doing our weekly sunset walk as our source of regular exercise. Late Thursday night, after the beach, I noticed Rufus was walking a little funny. I wasn’t able to really pinpoint the problem initially, but as a devoted and dedicated dachshund dad, I knew something wasn’t right. Friday we waited and watched. The problem did not get worse but also didn’t improve. My personal philosophy is not to wait. If I’m worried about my hounds, I like to take some sort of action. I want peace of mind again. I decided against an emergency room visit Friday night, because the ER staff doesn’t know me and my dogs as well as our loyal vets. So instead, I emailed my vet and asked to come in Saturday morning. They naturally agreed to see us right away.
Friday night, I administered a common neurological test. It’s where you bend the back paws and see if it returns to a natural state or stays bent. Friday both paws returned to normal like a reflex, as one would expect. However, Saturday morning at the vet’s office the back left leg / paw did not return to normal. It’s one of our worst nightmares realized. Rufus is not paralyzed, which is the good news, but it’s clear there’s a lack of communication between the brain and his back left leg. Deep breathe.
Here is the point, I want to share. In that moment when vet and I realized there’s a problem I wanted to cry. There’s a flood of emotions, but I showed restraint for Rufus’s sake. I do believe our darling dachshunds take cues from their humans, and I didn’t want to add to any anxiety that Rufus might already be experiencing. Also, I think it’s important to remain optimistic. One of the main and basic tenets of Dodger’s List (our friends and leading experts on IVDD and other back problems) is that there’s hope! And there is.
Today Rufus got a cortisone shot and 8 minutes of cold laser light therapy. Rufus is able to walk, but his back legs are cross-stepping – which is not good. If you don’t know what that means, it looks a little like he is walking in repetitive circles because that left leg is having trouble getting timely information from the brain. Therefore, he is on mandatory crate rest for a week or longer. As a good reminder here is the definition of crate rest: Rufus is confined to the crate. He is able to walk and stand, but we don’t want him to run, jump or raise up / stand on his hind legs. We basically want to keep his back and his spine parallel to the ground at all times. If we’re sitting on the couch or in bed, Rufus is welcome to be with us, but we have to be vigilant; we don’t want him to hear a noise (like the doorbell) and take off running. We also don’t want him to climb steps – not even a small curb. When he is outside eliminating, it’s ideal to keep him on a leash also to ensure he doesn’t take off running, in the event that he hears our neighbor’s dog barking or something. This is probably the toughest part for both dog and dad. But, it’s imperative to him getting better. Hopefully our commitment and steadfast resolve with pay off. We go for our second cold light laser therapy on Monday.
This is Rufus’ 4th episode of back drama. Most recently, in May 2014, Rufus showed small signs of back discomfort. At that time he passed the neurological test, but we decided to do a series of cold laser light therapy. By mid-June 2014, he was back to his normal self. This is the first time Rufus has ever failed the neurological test, and it does break my heart. He is 11 years old though, as I was reminded at the vet’s office today, and the price for getting older is slower recovery time. Rufus is resting comfortably in his crate next to me as I write this entry. He’s actually sleeping peacefully, and looking at him it’s a challenge not to cry. Our hounds are a tough, loyal and determined breed, and Rufus and his pack have taught me a lot about being strong and bold in the face of adversity. So we’ll put on a good face for Rufus and meet this newest challenge head on. We plan to stay home all weekend with Rufus and hope tomorrow will bring better news.
The two videos in this post are from Thursday night, and as you can see Rufus appears to be perfectly fine, which reminds me, it can all change in a blink of an eye. We’ll update everyone as we know more.
Thanks in advance friends for your support. We continue to write about Rufus’ adventures, both good and bad, because we believe through our shared experiences we learn key life lessons. Have a wonderful weekend friends, and hugs those hounds tight for us. Enjoy each and every day you have together, because for us L O V E is a four-legged word.