Whew...where to start, where to start? I guess I can begin by asking how each of your holiday celebrations shaped up? I hope Santa was good to you all! For Team Cote, well, our Christmas started out lovely, but ended far from blissed-out.
On Christmas Day, after all the presents had been opened and Christmas lunch was on our minds, I noticed our sweet Tucker-dog was acting a bit funny. He was hanging his head low, shivering some, and just not his spunky self. He'd gotten lots of new toys in his Christmas present that morning and had been going HARD playing with them all. Harder than usual. I, at first, thought he was just totally wiped out and wanted all of us to sit down and cuddle with him, but then I picked him up. He screamed bloody murder and my heart sank. Something serious was up. Of course, with it being Christmas Day, nothing was open but the ER vet. I knew the ER vet would drain our pockets just from walking in the front door, so we opted to make him rest the rest of the day and take him to our regular NC vet first thing the next morning. Cut to our vet appointment next day...x-rays done and verdict in...Tuck is an IVDD dog and has injured his neck. :(
[Our handsome boy a few weeks before his injury]
IVDD (also known as Intervertebral Disc Disease) is common among the Dachshund breed. In fact, it's highly suspected that it's hereditary. Imagine our surprise and dismay when we saw his x-rays and the vet proceeded to show us multiple disc narrowings in his neck disc-space and a few mid-back. Heartbreaking. What's even more disconcerting? Knowing the narrow discs could possibly have been there since birth. Double heartbroken. Our vet concluded that he likely injured it from playing so vigorously Christmas morning (a severe muscle sprain coupled with minor disc inflammation). D and I proceeded to kick ourselves. Why did we try to spoil our pup with fun toys?!?!?!! And why did we ever start letting him on furniture?!?! Parental guilt is a total jerk (even of the fur-child variety). If only we could go back and tell our college-selves to stick to better doxie practices. We knew our pup would forever be prone to back issues because of his stature, but our delusion that it could never happen to Tuck just slapped us across the face. HARD. You live, you learn. Thankfully, Tuck doesn't have a slipped/bulging disc or any major spinal cord pressure...just some disc inflammation & narrowing. So, no surgery needed, no paralysis, no major decisions to be made. Our small silver-lining. The vet prescribed him anti-inflammatory meds, pain meds, and a muscle relaxant and suggested we monitor him, let him rest, and start restricting all jumping off furniture from now until forever...before he REALLY injures himself. Done and done. Except not so much.
Doxies are, by nature, the most stubborn, hard-headed dogs on the planet. We knew this from day one, but trying to keep a dog (an 8-year-old one, at that) that goes from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds from jumping up on the furniture he's be jumping on for years is like trying to tell Kim Kardashian not to have such a large butt. IMPOSSIBLE. D and I spent 5 days trying our darndest to keep him from doing any activity whatsoever without keeping him 100% confined to a crate (which wasn't suggested to us at the time--can you believe it?). We got him a doggy playpen and pretty much lived in there with him and watched him like a hawk, stifling his natural puppy playfulness (SO HEARTBREAKING). Within 3 days, he was acting like his normal self. No signs of pain whatsoever. So, we started to allow him to move around more (no jumping), but still hovered like helicopter parents. This was our first big mistake. We should have given him the full week of rest instead of assuming he was all rainbows and sunshine again. New Years Eve, I picked Tuck up to carry him outside to do his business and BOOM...more blood-curdling yelps. And off to the ER vet we went.
After another round of x-rays and some blood work (precautionary...he had a slight fever, but it went down shortly after he rested at the vet) we still had the same diagnosis of IVDD with disc inflammation...only this time, Tuck was to be strictly crate rested 24/7 for 3-4 weeks. Once again, D and I were devastated and kicking ourselves. Dogs aren't as resilient as they lead on! We took him back home and I sent D off to buy Tuck a new crate. Tuck hasn't been in a crate since 2009. This was going to be a long and heart-wrenching journey to recovery. I couldn't imagine keeping him crated, only allowed out for potty breaks 4 times a day. Seems so cruel, even though it's much needed.
So, this is where we find ourselves today. On day 5 of strict crate rest and Tuck, while whiny from time to time, has proved that you can teach old dogs new tricks, no matter how heartbreaking it is for us to watch! We've had to do some weird things (like placing his crate on the couch beside us or on a table beside our bed so he feels like he's right there with us at all times), but whatever it takes for him to heal and feel as comfortable as possible in the process. He's already seeming to feel great again, but we're no dummies. He's staying in that thing until 1 month has passed and vet gives us the all clear! We don't have another spare $1,000 for repeat vet visits. And we want Tuck to be with us as long as possible, no taking chances ever again. While his IVDD will never go away and we have to change his entire way of living/behaving from this day forward, the vet foresees a full recovery of his current injury. PRAISE THE LORD!
[Our first day with Tuck in 2006...what a sweet little nugget!]
All that being said, we had quite the stressful, worry-filled holiday season. Not what one ever hopes for and not another week and a half I ever want to experience again. There's nothing scarier than thinking you're going to lose your fur-child (aside from a real human, of course) or the fear that he might be adversely changed forever. I wish I could go back and change so much of the last 8 years. Hindsight has us reeling. I haven't cried this much in a long while. We also haven't been able to do or think of much other than Tuck here lately. A total life-change for us all! While it seemed so daunting and impossible to rewire Tuck, he's showing us that with a little faith and by taking on this new adventure one day at a time, we can make it through. Plus, my dad is awesome and currently building pet ramps for Tuck for all his post-recovery activity. This issue totally rocked my parents world, too. They love Tuck just as much as we do! He did live with them for 3 years, after all.
This hiccup is indeed the reason for all the somber tweets and hiatus from the blog recently. We're now back in FL (his injury had my stay extended another week in NC) and we're slowly adjusting to life post-holiday & hardship. I'm emotionally and physically drained, but so thankful Tuck is here with us and on the mend. We'd pretty much do anything for that hot dog! If you're the praying type, please keep our little warrior in your prayers. And us, as well. We've still got a long road and the always looming threat of re-injury to face, but with all the support and love we've gotten and the Good Lord on our side, we will overcome this! Onward to better days...