Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

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Bailey’s Story – The Naked Truth About IVDD

Posted on Oct 12, 2011 by Lisa Ricard Claro   9 Comments | Posted in bailey · dachshund · dogs · inter-vertebral disc disease · IVDD · rigby
Every so often I allow one of my pets to take over my blog. For today, I’m handing the reins to Rigby, our wise and happy Lab who you might remember from last April’s A to Z Challenge.  Rigby—you’re on!
Hi! I’m Rigby, a yellow Lab mix and member of the Claro family pack. This means I’m loved and spoiled which really rocks, especially at snack time . . . although lately Mom’s handing out carrots instead of Beggin’ Strips. What’s up with that? Anyway, I was rescued a few years ago, and as it turns out, in addition to being a great squirrel chaser, I’m also a pretty good blogger.
Last Wednesday Mom promised you an inside look at the life of Bailey. He’s a sweet Dachshund who suffers from IVDD (inter-vertebral disc disease), and Mom met him at the Howl-O-Weenie festival. If you missed that post, click HERE.  I’ll let Bailey tell his own story (shhh, don’t tell Mom . . . she didn’t okay an amateur writing on her blog), but first, here’s a little general information.
Hansen I (ruptured disc) IVDD is most often found in the little guys with short legs, like Dachshunds, Beagles, and Pekingese. Hansen II (bulging disc) is more often associated with big guys like me—Labs, Golden Retrievers, and Rottweilers. Hansen II sets in over time and can usually be treated conservatively with rest and anti-inflammatory medications.  But the onset of Hansen I can be scary. It comes on suddenly, can be quite severe, and commonly causes wobbly gait or paraplegia.  Surgery is often required to relieve the spinal cord pressure.
What causes IVDD? Well, when the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spine rupture, material from the disc breaks through, causing compression or damage to the spinal cord. This leads to swelling of the spinal cord which inhibits the operation of normal neurological signals. The result is pain and possible damage to nerve function; paralysis may also occur, leading to incontinence of bowel and bladder.
What do you do if you suspect your dog is suffering from IVDD? If you share your life with a big guy like me, you’ve probably noted development of the condition, so a treatment plan has evolved accordingly. I’m only four, so I don’t have any problems right now. But if you live with a furry old guy and suspect a spine problem, take him to the vet. (Um . . . your dog, not your husband. I’m guessing your husband will need a different kind of doctor.)
Now, if your furry kid is afflicted with sudden onset, the first thing you should do is crate him so he’ll be safe and quiet, and contact your vet immediately. In severe cases where he is unable to move, take him without delay to a veterinary surgeon, especially one with the ability to do a myelogram (an x-ray that allows the disc material to be visualized).  
All of this sounds really scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Mom says learning about stuff is a good way stop being afraid, so I visited these websites. You should too:

One of the most important things I learned is that dogs with IVDD can live happy, healthy lives. Even “down dogs” (paralyzed) can have wonderful lives. This requires a willingness on the part of you, the human, to make special allowances. What kind, you wonder? Well, I’ll let Bailey tell you all about it.  He’s an expert.

Thanks for visiting with me. Now, here’s Bailey!
Hi there! My name is Bailey, and I’m a 9-year-old Dachshund who got really lucky back in July of 2007. Well, first I got really unlucky. Here’s what happened.
I was only 5 back then, but IVDD left me immediately paralyzed. It was like, one minute I was fine and romping around, and then—boom!—an acute disc extrusion paralyzed me. I was hurt so bad that I couldn’t move my rear legs or even feel them. That was really scary. The lady who loved me was disabled and couldn’t care for me with my injury, so she brought me to the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. The neurologist at VMRCVM performed emergency surgery, but my initial spinal cord injury was so severe that my rear legs never got better. I was left paralyzed.
Now here’s the lucky part! My rescue Mom, Renee Barber, was a 4th year vet student there! She fell in love with my sweet disposition and handsome furry self.  She brought me home and worked with me, doing physical therapy with me in the hope that my legs would get better.  It didn’t work. I’m still paralyzed, but I get around just fine and—hey! Do you want to see my wheels? I love these things! You should see me go—zoom, zoom! Like the wind, baby!

I use the wheelcair mostly when we go for walks and to play outdoors. I don’t use it much in the house. It’s kind of bulky and gets caught on furniture sometimes, so it’s easier for me to ditch the cart and pull myself around without it when we’re inside. It’s all cool. My chest and front legs are very strong, and I’m able to get around just fine. I have developed calluses on my legs and feet that keep my skin protected when I pull myself around the house.Yeah, I know. I’m a macho kind of guy.
My life is awesome! I’m part of a loving pack. Here I am with my furry brothers and sisters.
The first month or so that I was home with my new pack was tough on all of us. See, being paralyzed doesn’t bother me, but I need special care and it took time and patience to establish a routine, especially since I can’t control my bladder or bowels.
This problem is true for a lot of us with IVDD, and our humans must learn to manually express our bladder. That sounds icky, but it only takes a couple minutes a few times a day, and once learned, it’s no big deal at all! I do get urinary tract infections sometimes, because I can’t potty by myself. That means Mom has to check my urine for infection periodically to keep me healthy. She’s great at it, and I’m a very happy, healthy boy!
Because I’m so happy, I get excited sometimes. That means I have to wear a couple diapers so I don’t accidentally mess up the place. I wear a baby onesie to keep the diapers in place, and baby wipes, baby powder and baths all keep my skin healthy and my fur sweet-smelling. In fact, sometimes I wish I didn’t smell quite so nice. It cuts into my macho image, you know?

The diapers get changed whenever Mom and Dad empty my bladder. Dad loves me so much that he built me a special stand out of PVC to help with the process and keep me comfy. Look at this crazy contraption! Isn’t it cool?

All of this sounds like it would take a long time, right? But it doesn’t! It only takes a couple extra minutes a few times a day to keep me healthy.    
And just look at me! Aren’t I adorable?
I hope my story has shown you that you don’t have to be afraid to keep and care for a dog like me with IVDD.  You’ll only spend a few extra minutes each day, but your IVDD pet will give you love and devotion and licky-kisses and snuggly-cuddles all the time.  It’s true. Just ask my Mom!

My rear legs may be paralyzed, but my heart? It beats perfectly, and it’s overflowing with love.

Thanks for visiting Writing in the Buff. And special thanks to Bailey and his rescue Mom, the amazing Renee Barber, for being so generous with photos, information and inspiration. Bailey is proof that IVDD does not mean a death sentence for your pooch. There are choices and options. Learn and love.

See you next for Book Blurb Friday –

Please note:  Photos courtesy of Anne Yarborough Photography are so noted on the photos.

9 Responses to "Bailey’s Story – The Naked Truth About IVDD"

  1. Comment by Anonymous
    October 12, 2011 at 5:57 am  

    Lisa–The last two lines of Bailey's story: priceless. Your post–oops, Rigby's post–was extremely informative. Bailey's story should be in a Chicken Soup anthology, if it's not already.Sioux @

  2. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    October 12, 2011 at 6:27 am  

    Lisa, what a precious and informative, heart touching post. Thank you and the pooches.

  3. Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
    October 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm  

    Sioux – Thanks. Bailey is a special little fella, isn't he. :)Linda – Thanks!

  4. Comment by Kay L. Davies
    October 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm  

    Delightful, in a heartrending kind of way. Our much-beloved Lindy has one vertebra that is badly misshapen. She'll have to have another X-ray next year to see if anything has changed. Golden Retrievers do get hip problems, too. We'd do anything to be able to keep Lindy in our lives.Thanks for the inspirational story, Lisa and Rigby. Bailey is adorable.

  5. Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
    October 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm  

    Kay – Poor Lindy. She's fortunate to have human companions who love her so.

  6. Comment by Karen Lange
    October 13, 2011 at 8:24 am  

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa. Love the license plate!

  7. Comment by Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy
    October 13, 2011 at 10:33 am  

    Lisa, what a special and informative post. Those people are very dedicated to keeping their baby alive and happy. Thanks for the effort that you put into this post.Kathy

  8. Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
    October 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm  

    Karen – Thanks. Yes, the license plate makes the whole set of wheels complete. :)Kathy – You're right, they're amazing. I talked to several people with "down" dogs and they are all people who truly adore their dog. They all also said that once you get over the initial shock and learn what to do, it really isn't much of a problem. I still think they've earned a special place in heaven.

  9. Comment by J.L. Campbell
    October 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm  

    I'm glad I stopped by today. This has been interesting and informative. It does take special people to care for these dogs.

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