So two years ago something scary and traumatic happened to us. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you got cancer, I hear you roll your eyes. Well no….well yes, of course that happened, and yes that was scary and traumatic (I reply rather defensively). However it’s not quite what I was referring to, not this time anyway.
In late July of 2013 our very precious dachshund, Frank, had spinal surgery for a prolapsed disc. A pretty common ailment for dachshunds explained the specialist vet as we watched him poke and prod our little boy. The conclusion that the very kind vet, a dachshund owner himself, came to was that on a grading system of very bad backs, Frank’s was at a level 4, with the most severe and often irreparable being a level 5. For us, the anxious parents of dear Frank, it was devastating news. We had watched him deteriorate within a matter of days from a happy monkey chasing, gecko hunting, Olympian gate sprinter to little more than a shadow of his former self.
By the time we got him an emergency referral appointment with the specialist he had lost complete control of his hind legs and his bladder. Both Pete and I stood in that examining room wide-eyed, and I admit rather teary and completely helpless hearing that the only option for our dear Frank was surgery to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord, in order to give him a chance of being able to walk again.
Now just to give you some background to our much loved two furry kids… they joined our family a few months after we moved into our home in 2009. We had gone to “just have a look” at the daxie puppies we were told by a friend were a pet shop just down the road from us. Having absolutely NO intention at that stage of considering getting any pets, we left the pet shop a short time later with two of those gorgeous little bundles…one brown and one black.
We couldn’t help ourselves. We fell in love with them pretty much on sight. There they were, the last two pups in their cage; playing together rather sleepily and completely oblivious to everyone passing by. We spent the rest of the morning rushing around buying everything we could think puppies would need: collars, leads, name tags, toys, beds, jerseys, food and water bowls, treats, oh yes and FOOD. We were like brand new parents…without the added benefit of a nine month preparation….clueless but totally besotted!
Frank was very small for his age and we really only noticed that when we got him home…a real runt… but with such a strong will to live…and an appetite to match! Noodle was the epitome of the annoying little sister, the instigator and the brains behind all their daily adventures. The two of them never cried at night like most pups do when left on their own, they did what they clearly had done in that pet shop, cuddled close together under their blankets and went to sleep. In fact they have continued to be a strong unit ever since, with a Hollywood power couple name to match: Froodle!
And since the first day they put their tiny paws into our house, they have ruled our home and our hearts.
So as we stood in the vet’s office hearing that he would need to perform urgent back surgery on Frank and highly recommending he do so with immediate effect, we didn’t have to confer or even take any time to think about it, we asked him to do whatever he needed to do to help our little boy and his bad back. Frank was operated on that same day and released a few days later into our care.
Surgically the operation had gone well; unfortunately Frank still could not walk on his own. He and I went to doggie physio, an hour away from our home, over the next few weeks for him to start learning to walk again. He was furnished with a harness that allowed us to hold up his back legs so he could use his front ones to walk assisted into the garden wee and poo. It was a tough recovery, on all of us, especially Frank who couldn’t quite understand why he couldn’t run after Noodle or those darn monkeys! He was confined to cage rest for a month and only allowed out every few hours for bathroom breaks.
Slowly but surely that determination he displayed as a pup shone through and he was able to start moving his wobbly back legs. He was then allowed more freedom to move around, first in a closed room and then having the (run) of house but with supervised toilet visits to the garden. He was still on this recovery phase when I received my diagnosis less than a month and a half after his surgery.
He got stronger and stronger while I was recovering from my own surgery and I have to admit, his good humour and speed of healing put me to shame! But lucky for me, he never ever brought it up 🙂
He and Noodle were literally at my bedside through some really bad days, and there was nothing nicer than coming home from treatments, walking all three of us down to our garden and soaking up some much needed vitamin D!
So, having to make last week’s trip back to the spine specialist with a very sore and sad Frank on the back seat was awful. Hearing that he may need to have another back op, and that he had signs of dehydration which had them concerned about his kidneys, was frightening. Leaving him there on a drip and driving all the way home with an empty back seat was tough; and getting home to a tail wagging Noodle checking the car for her brother was simply heart-breaking. In fact it may be the first time I have cried in quite a while.
Chemo, radiation and surgery seem like a whole lot of nothing compared to seeing a piece of your heart lying in your arms in pain.
So, 5 days in doggie hospital, one pining Noodle, an MRI scan, and a call from the vet this morning indicates that the cage rest has helped. His back has stabilised a little more and another 10 days of cage rest is recommended, rather than another surgery.
So please excuse me while I go and tell Noodle the good and the bad news: that her brother is doing well, but that he still won’t be home with her for quite a while just yet.
Get better and come home soon Frank. We miss and love you!
P.S. Noodle does NOT love being an only child.
“Dachshunds have their own agenda and can be stubborn about seeing their plans through to completion. What Rosie lacked in consistency, she made up for in enthusiasm. Most of the time when I called her name, she sprinted back, her long ears cocked and flying like a little girl’s pigtails. Each encounter was a glorious reunion, even if we’d been parted for only a minute or two. I had never felt so loved.” Mary Doria Russell
“Abandon a dachshund and upon your return, you may well be confronted with a small token of her displeasure. This, for the dachshund, is an undignified but necessary form of training. Eventually, you will learn your lesson, which is to take you with her everywhere. When you have finally accepted this, you will be generously rewarded for your good behavior by a jaunty, joyful companion.” Mary Doria Russell
“But failure has kept Curt at home like a nice warm dachshund.” James Purdy
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
“Nothing will turn a man’s home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund.” Victoria Magazine