What’s in a tail wag…

Author: Kim  //  Category: Ashas, Isabella, Pompeii, Sasha

I was watching Isabella the other day as she fretted about in her usual flurry upon her mom’s arrival.  As her tail flew back and forth in frantic chaos, it made me realize how different tail wags can be from dog to dog. Ashas has the rotary version of a tail wag, a circular motion of happiness telling the world he is ready to party! Sasha’s tail wag was perfectly timed and balanced, a metranome of tail wags, if you will, stating her approval of just about everything in the world! She was such a happy and well adjusted little girl!

Then there is Isabella’s crooked wizard’s wand of a tail wagging in its haphazard frenzy which exudes her conflicting OCD/NOCD (obsessive compulsive dissorder/no clear direction) attitude about most things. I imagine her thought process to be one of optimistic/pessimistic indecision… she wants to like new experiences but she’s so scared of something bad that she can’t make up her mind how to react and so a frenzy usually wins.

Then there’s the feline tail wag… Hardly worth calling a wag, Pompeii has a gentle swirling motion forming beautuful symmetrical figure eights to an fro, clearly announcing the power position she sees herself in… Make no mistake, this self-appointed head of the household must appear regal and in command at all times!

So just what does a tail wag say?

Well, I’ve not seen much on the subject of tail wags related to cat tails (the feline kind, not the flowering plant kind) but everything I’ve ever read says quite a lot from a dog’s point of view! Dogs (along with those people who have a keen dog sense) know how to tell when approaching another dog if they are friendly, happy, angry, ready to bite the head of the world off, etc.

What a useful function, in fact… Imagine if people had tails we could wag!

Maybe I’d be able to tell before I approach the counter if the check-out clerk is having a bad day! Then I could simply get in a different line and avoid having my groceries thrown so feverishly into my grocery bags, almost as if her bad day will get better just by putting my watermelon in the same bag as my bread!

Speaking of things that don't belong, who put the cat in with my vitamin water???

Of course I could also determine that the clerk in my line with the extremely friendly tail wag will no doubt make a 5 minute checkout last 20 minutes while she fills me in on her last dinner party at which the mother-in-law was in attendance and completely embarrased her in front of all her friends by complaining about how the mashed potatoes tasted like instant when in fact they were homemade and blended in the mixer for a smoother creamier mashed potato…

I can haz mashed potatoes?

And best of all, what about the waiter who is miffed at the table ahead of me because they left no tip on their $96 service for eight… I could decide right away from the lack of wag thereof that I prefer patio seating and politley ask to move before anyone gets hurt! So much good to come from a tail wag!

Back to reality, nothing beats a tailwag for the sheer entertainment factor! Who doesn’t love watching a happy pup’s tail bebopping with excitement as they prance about! And watching our pets do the infamous tailwag chase never get’s old… we should be able to somehow harness some energy from this, like windmills, as they fuel their spinning with determination for the catch! My question is why don’t they ever get dizzy?

Of course, we must not forget the interactive usefulness of the tailwag between species… For example, Pompeii seriously thinks Ashas’ tail is a toy which is attached to her buddy and lies readily available for her personal amusement, even when Ashas may disagree.

The huntress spies her prey, she slowly moves in, then with precision she makes her move!!!

So there you have it, random thoughts about tailwags…

How does your tail wag?

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IVDD, what a pain in the neck…

Author: Kim  //  Category: Isabella

Ok, I willingly acknowledge that my title dangerously borders on the cheesiest of cheesy but sadly, pun or no pun, it’s true! IVDD (Intervertebral disk disease) is a very real and very serious pain in the neck or back. When you have dachshunds, one of the biggest fears you face is hearing the whimper or seeing the twitch and tremble of pain telling you IVDD may be present. It’s not only painful for Fido but can be very painfull for your pocketbook.

I am not a complete stranger to this horrible disease. My sister and niece’s boy Bailey was dubbed “Franken-puppy” after his back surgery to repair a damaged disk. That was some time back and he has since passed away unrelated to IVDD.

RIP Bailey, we miss you and think about you often sweet boy…say Hi to Sasha, hope you’re both having a blast up there!

Over the last couple of years Isabella has had occasional bouts of back pain requiring both pain meds and steroids. Sadly this is common with many dachshunds. When the pain reoccured this summer and continued with little improvement from meds our vet started her on k-laser treatments to give a last non-surgical effort to addressing the problem.

You try to keep them from jumping… you have stairs next to every bed in the house, next to every couch yet still, we all know the last thing a dachshund is looking for upon hearing the doorbell ring is a set of stairs to casually make their way to the door. Nope, if your dachshunds are like mine, I propose the person guilty of ignoring the “No Soliciting” sign (clearly displayed in plain sight) in hopes to sell me a home security system has barely removed their finger from the ringer before these little guys are front and center determined to scare away said person with the very piercing ferocious doxie bark. What I find the most disturbing in this situation is that I’m still being offered an alarm system to warn me of impending intruders… as we struggle to hear each other over the comotion!

Noise aside, the situation poses such a horrible health hazard to dachshunds as well as other long-backed breeds. Ashas doesn’t just bounce off the couch as Isabella does. No, he does a swan dive worthy of an Olympic 10.0 Gold Medal! It’s beautiful to see but heart wrenching at the same time knowing his possible future and the damage it may one day cause being a dachshund and prone to IVDD. Stopping him from doing it is a challenge in and of itself, one we have not yet overcome but rest assured we’re working on it and very open to suggestions if any of you have successfully halted this behavior!

As I mentioned, Isabella had already begun having issues appearing over the course of time. We are constantly rubbing and massaging our little lapdogs and standard x-rays showed possible inflammation along her middle back, the same area she had begun to show sensitivity to during the typical back rub so after the latest flare-up, our vet decided it was time for a surgical consult. We had no idea when we walked into the surgeon’s office for the consult on her back that she would in fact be having surgery less than 24 hours later on her neck.

Through this experience, I’ve learned a whole lot about IVDD that I didn’t know. Not that my regular vet had never talked me through it but the way our surgeon explained it opened my eyes to exactly what this disease is all about. For one, I thought it was caused by an injury. I had always heard Dachshunds (and long-backed dogs) were prone to IVDD, but naively I thought it was due to the shape of their skeleton and the length of the back causing the IVDD injuries.

The fact that our surgeon has a dachshund drawn on his whiteboard in permanent marker showing the spinal column for consults is sad evidence of how common IVDD really is with the breed.

What I now know differently, is that IVDD is common to specific breeds purely due to genetics. The disk material in certain breeds has a propensity to lose its moisture and dry out, becoming hard and brittle. The long back comes into play as the animal is at risk for injury frequently caused from the sudden jarring and pressure associated with jumping and most importantly, landing. By “injury” I mean the compression of the now hard and brittle disk material which has nowhere to go but to push intrusively into the spinal cord causing pain and often paralysis. Also, IVDD is a disease which can reoccur as multiple episodes at different areas in the spine over the course of the dog’s lifetime whether surgery has occurred or not. Simply put, even if surgery has corrected one area, other disks can become affected later and require more surgery. A short 30-40 years ago, many cases of IVDD ended sadly in paralysis and/or ultimately in euthanasia. Thankfully veterinary medicine has come out of the dark ages and although it’s expensive, with the use of procedures such as MRI, they can pinpoint where these injuries have occurred and make educated decisions on how to treat them, surgical or not.

Isabella is a great example of the benefit of MRI. The conclusion from her MRI was that while she had some areas in her middle back as suspected, they are quite mild (at least for now) and also not the area most likely to have been causing her pain. Her issue was in her neck where she had a severe disk protrusion into her spinal cord. The chance of this correcting itself without surgery was nil so the choice was a no-brainer. Oddly, she showed no discomfort during phiscal examination of her neck, only the back so this would have gone undiagnosed or worse, we might have chosen to operate in the wrong place if not for the MRI. Of course I got a copy of it on DVD. :-) Here’s a snapshot from the MRI file showing her bad disk with about a 50% spinal intrusion:

Something else I learned… neck injuries are less often to cause actual paralysis however they tend to be more painful for the dog than those of the back. Episodes involving the back start out with some pain but often develop into paralysis at which time the pain subsides. Like either is a more desired outcome? Also, neck injuries, while a much more complex procedure for the surgeon, is a much easier post-surgical recovery event for Fido.

It was a longer surgery than I expected… they took her back at 11:00, to start her prep and it was after 5pm when she finally came out of surgery. They had to drug her up a little heavier than usual they explained as she had already tried to jump down and get lose from her confinement. I guess she had enough and was ready for home?

That’s our girl…Cage Jumper!

When we were finally able to see her she was a pitiful sight. There she was, in a drug induced stupor with her tongue just sadly hanging from her mouth. They tried to show us her scar but we couldn’t see much and what we did see looked pretty small. The procedure was done with an incision below the neck to access the area of involvement and remove all of the diseased disc material. It was hard to leave her there that night. The most consoling news was that she would remain on a pretty high dosage of meds for at least 24 hours and so out of it that she wouldn’t be missing us anytime soon.

When we went back to see her the next day after work she was doing amazingly well. Much to our suprise, what we thought was a small scar turned out to be a little larger than small… Three days after her surgery we brought her home where she had two weeks of confinement. what a long two weeks. Within just the first week you would never have known anything was wrong with her! Full recovery for this surgery is a mere 9-12 weeks before she can return to “being a dog”…

Not only has she rebounded quickly but the most wonderful change since her surgery is seeing her lay on her back… something she hasn’t been a real fan of for a couple of years and already she’s doing it regularly! She’s also been “sweeter” and more patient. It’s crazy what we miss even though we think we see everything. If only our little fur babies could talk to us and tell us what’s going on. Sadly it’s in their nature to hide things like pain so often we don’t know until things are severe. Having her lay around carefree and more importantly “pain free” reaffirm that the right decision was made to go the surgical route.

We’re at 4 1/2 weeks and at least she can now roam freely around the house and the yard as well as participate in low key activity. She wants to play with Ashas really bad but their playing involves rolling and wrestling and pinning each other down nipping each other’s necks so when they start horsing around we watch and when it turns rough (usually pretty quickly) we put a halt to it. She’s also ready to chase and fetch her ball… another 6-7 weeks to go little girl!

P.S. ever wonder what your dog looks like on the inside? Pretty much like we do! Kidneys, liver, intestines…

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Doggie Paddle…

Author: Kim  //  Category: Adventures, Ashas, Isabella

Summertime is now over, the chill of fall is well in the air and winter is fast approaching.  Sadly, we didn’t find out until the end of summer that apparently our guys have an interest in swimming!  They’re dachshunds which rarely, and even then, barely like baths so who would’ve thought ours would or could swim?!?

It all started last summer (’10) when Tristian bought Isabella a little wading pool to which she has religiously responded with the proverbial dachshund “You’ve got to be kidding” look when presented with any opportunity to use it. Ashas was still pretty young when we got it and for some reason which escapes me now, we didn’t even really try to get him interested.  Mind you the water here in the pacific northwest comes out of the faucet colder than ice water, even in the dead heat of summer, so I suspect I was paranoid about him getting sick exposed to such cold water while so young?

At any rate, fast forward to this summer (’11) when we pulled the little blue puppy pool back out and Ashas showed slightly more interest than Peanut had ever shown.  In fact, the first time it came out he jumped into it himself!  Promising! For about a split second… true to dachshund form, he has proven to mostly just snoop around it, using it as a giant water bowl. If it’s a really hot day he will tolerate a quick dip to run around in a circle and let you splash of the water on his back for a cool down…

If you live anywhere near Seattle, you’ve heard of Marymoor Park.  They have one of, if not the largest off-leash Dog Park in the state of WA.  We started going there this summer to let the pups run some energy off and make new friends.  Actually, we used to go there with Sasha and Isabella before Sasha got sick but we had to stop due to her illness to avoid exposing her to anything with her weakened immune system.  Because of that, it had been a couple of years since going. The park has a beautiful river going through the off-leash area with access for dogs to enjoy the water.  All of our trips through the park and along the trails never resulted in water play for us, we have been happy to just enjoy the sights from the sidelines…we have doxies and everyone knows (most) doxies don’t do water…

Or so we thought…

A few weeks ago we met several friends and their fur-kids at the park for a puppy play-date!  Upon encountering the water area, one of my friends, Linda, who has a sweet larger dog named Roxie, decided to go in the river to let Roxie swim.  Then, another friend of ours, decided to take their miniature poodle in for an experimental swim.  Next thing we know, Ashas was looking like he was going to jump in so Tristian got in with him. Well, one thing led to another and within minutes, we were ALL in the river with our pups, Isabella included!  It was such a hoot!!!

Roxie is a pro at swimming!

This is our friend Coco!

Isabella's splashing up a storm!

That's one wet puppy!!!

This is Panda, takin' it easy!

Coco is a natural swimmer!

Little Abby is covered with ringlets when she gets wet! Too cute...

Abby is gonna get her bow wet!

Ashas is ready to go back in for more fun!

Tristian and I decided the next day to go back for some more fun in the water since they had liked swimming but to make the fun safer and less stressful for us we would invest in life jackets. They did well enough swimming but their short legs tired out pretty quickly so having the floatation of the life vests made for an easier swim!

We can’t wait until next summer… until then swim lessons are on hold. In the meantime, enjoy some clips of Ashas and Isabella doin’ the dog paddle!

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