I mentioned last time that our dachshund, Sam, was undergoing a bout with Intervertebral Disc Disease. This is one of those breeder produced diseases that comes from those in the dog show world trying to mold living creatures to some imaginary “standard”. In addition to IVDD these ailments include glaucoma, hip or elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, Cushing’s disease, cataracts, hydrocephalus, cardiomyopathy, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, patellar luxation, retinal atrophy, upper airway syndrome, and to mention just one more result of breeding to produce a desired body shape, English bulldogs can no longer give birth naturally because of the artificial selection of narrow hips and all pups must be delivered by caesarean section. This list is unfortunately but a few of the conditions caused by generations of inbreeding, and if you are a dog lover it should horrify you. But it is the standards embraced by the show dog circuit that have led to these problems and have cut short the life of many an animal that those in the dog fancy profess to love. Personally I think what they are in love with is self-aggrandizement in much the same way parents lose all control when pushing their children into sports or other activities that they wish they had excelled in themselves. But all that is a rant for another day. See http://avetsguidetolife.blogspot.com/2014/08/messed-up-breedswere-responsible.html for more information from a veterinarian. This entry is an “up close and personal” account of one dog and his owners coping with one specific disease.
Early last spring I got the first warning sign but didn’t recognize it. I had Sam out for a walk and just as we started, instead of eagerly plunging ahead, Sam sat down and refused to go further. I reached down to pet and reassure him and noticed his body was quivering. I picked him up and carried him back to the house and sat down next to him on the floor rubbing him and helping him relax. I thought that he was having a very mild seizure. I had owned other dachshunds that had occasional seizures – maybe once or twice in their lives – it seems that this is a breed thing and doesn’t require medical care unless it is regular and persistent. So finally Sam stopped quivering and relaxed and spent the rest of the afternoon napping next to me on the couch. Life went on and the incident was nearly forgotten. Then two months later the other shoe dropped. Coming home from playing at a wedding on a Saturday night we noticed that Sam didn’t come running to greet us. Instead he just sat on the floor panting loudly. Then he would get up and pace as if looking for something. It was definitely atypical behavior and touching his back I could feel what I now could identify as muscles spasms all along his back and sides. We had no idea what to do, so after a quick call to an emergency vet, at 9:30 at night we piled into the truck and away we went. At the vet’s he got a spinal x-ray which looked normal and his spasms stopped so we were told to keep him from vigorous activity and sent home with some pain medication.
Two days later we were back at the emergency vet with stronger spasms and it was now evident that Sam was in pain. A different vet saw him and then we heard the dreaded diagnosis “herniated disk” and told to give him strict crate rest for three weeks. Again his spasms gradually receded and muscle relaxant was added to his meds. We set up the ex-pen in the living room and began the routine of carrying him outside to do his business. Three weeks later he seemed normal and enjoyed another three weeks of regular activity. We didn’t know it but we had just been through a warm up for the main event.