Electrical Cord Bite Injuries
Monday, 09 March 2015 08:07

We’ve all heard the stories of critters being electrocuted when they chew on electrical cords. But, in all my years in dogs, I’ve never had a cord chewer, or really any dogs (or puppies!) that destroy much of anything they shouldn’t. I know I am lucky, and I cannot tell you why they don’t chew. Anyway, I recently learned the hard way you don’t have to have a cord chewer, per se, to have a dog get an electrical cord bite injury.

Sansa, a few days after her injuryFriday, February 27th, I was working from home, so all the dogs were out except Sansa’s not-quite 7 week old puppies and my Afghan Hound, Fiona. The puppies were in their weaning pen in the sunroom. I’d just put Fi in her crate (in the same room), because she was in and out, tracking melting snow everywhere; she is such a snow hound she will literally stick her head in a snow drift and rub it around. I was de-cluttering the sunroom over my lunch break, and I’d moved a toy bin from its temporary place in a corner by the weaning pen. It was covering a slightly exposed electrical cord on the outside of the weaning pen that led to the heating pad for the puppies. The pad was carefully positioned under the thick washable puppy pads in the pen, and the cord was woven up between the expen and taped to the weaning pen board so the puppies couldn’t possibly get to it. It came out on the adult side of the pen for about 5 inches, and then went to an extension cord on the other side of another expen that protects our potted plants from dog “watering.”

I came up the basement steps with some laundry. Sansa and Arya were wrestling in the sunroom, near the corner where the toy bin has been since the weaning pen went up. I took the laundry to the other end of the house. I planned on folding it and then going back to the dining room to get back to work. I was folding, and all of a sudden, I heard a sound come out of Fiona I’ve never heard before, and then a low, weird sound…kind of a commotion. Fiona kept up this weird screaming and I headed toward the other end of the house, wondering what the heck was going on, yelling as I went. I thought, is someone heading towards a fight? I got to the sunroom, and I could see Sansa’s butt, her back on the floor, in the corner where the toy bin had been earlier in the day. Arya and Ryan were on top of her. For a split second, I thought they might be ganging up on her, but the body language wasn’t consistent with a fight. I moved them out of the way (after the fact, I realized they had been hovering over her, concerned) and to my horror, I saw Sansa’s teeth clamped hard around that heating pad cord. Her whole body was stiff and vibrating, and her eyes were rolled back in her head. I am pretty sure I screamed, and put my left hand in her mouth behind the cord, trying desperately to pry her jaws off the cord and break the circuit. I was thinking, “No, no, no, not THIS bitch!” The heating pad cordIn retrospect, that’s kind of funny, since I am pretty sure I would have thought that no matter who it was. I shocked myself, and then thought, “Unplug the cord! NOW!” I grabbed the end of the extension cord, which also had the webcam plugged into it, and yanked. I felt the plug release, and reached back into Sansa’s mouth to get her mouth off that cord. I got shocked again, and her mouth was still tight on the cord. I had no idea why that was happening; I only knew I HAD to break that circuit. Somehow, in a split second, I was able to yank the heating pad end out from under the weaning pen. It had probably taken me 10 minutes to originally weave that darn thing under there, but somehow I got it out in a second. Holding the heating pad end, I did the only thing I could think of; I gave the cord a very quick, incredibly hard fling toward the floor, and it was enough force to break Sansa’s hold on the cord. She was close enough to the floor she wasn’t flung very far, and at least she wasn’t still being shocked. I am usually pretty calm in a dog emergency, though I might be a bit loud. Not this time. This was the scariest thing I had ever seen in all my years in dogs; that tiny girl clamped down on that ^$&%* cord with her bladder and bowels evacuated; the image flashes in my head and still makes me break out in a cold sweat. Perhaps because I didn’t know exactly what to do. I was definitely NOT calm.

I assessed her, and while she looked like hell, she was still breathing and had a slow heartbeat. I quickly started flinging adults into crates, and I did the first thing I could think of; I called Christine. I was spluttering and crying, because I didn’t know if Sansa would even live. As I said, I knew very little about electrical cord bite injuries, and she had been clamped on that 110-volt cord, conservatively, for at least 30-50 seconds. Poor Christine was at work, and couldn’t even understand me. I finally blurted out “SANSA WAS ELECTROCUTED!!” Then I managed to get my head on a little better and said, “She’s still alive. Call my vet and tell them I am on my way.” I got in the car, no purse, no coat, my girl in my lap. Her eyes, which had been rolled back in her head, were now looking forward, but were totally glassy and she had drool coming from her mouth. Her body was so stiff. On the way to the vet, I could feel her heart returning to what felt like a more normal rhythm. Every few minutes, she would swallow, hard. Right before we got there, she sighed deeply, but her body still felt weird and stiff. I was praying she would be okay. The team at my veterinarian's office were waiting for me, thanks to Christine, with oxygen and the whole works. They immediately took her from me and ran her in the back to assess her condition. By the time they brought her back out to me, she was wagging her tail for treats and doing her cute little stretchy dog thing. She looked totally normal. The only evidence anything had even happened to her were the severe, bloody burns to her little mouth, one on each cheek, to one side of her tongue and to the outside corner of her mouth. The burn to the right side of her mouth was larger than a quarter. My vet put her on pain management and a week of antibiotics, all for her mouth. She said her heart and lungs sounded good, and that she should be fine, but I was to watch for a pulmonary edema (fluid in her lungs). The lungs often fill with fluid within twelve hours of an electrical cord bite injury, due to the electricity rupturing tiny capillaries in the lungs. After this information, *I* had to sit down. I couldn’t feel the tip of my middle finger, it had been shocked so much, and my whole left arm was numb. Even worse was playing the whole thing over and over in my head.  I couldn't imagine how Sansa felt if my arm felt so weird; after all, she was shocked WAY more than I was.  But here she was, acting as if nothing strange had happened.  Dogs are my heroes, truly.

When I returned home, I realized when I yanked the cord out of the extension, I yanked the webcam out totally, but the heating pad was only partially unplugged, which is why the circuit was still completing and was so difficult to break.

Fiona, our sweet heroine!While I wasn’t right there when it happened, I am pretty sure Sansa got her mouth around that cord in the act of wrestling with Arya. She is not a chewer, and certainly not in the middle of a play session. If it hadn’t been for Fiona alerting, it would have been likely a lot further along before I realized anything bad was happening. Fiona truly was a hero (heroine?) in this situation. Dogs are so incredible in so many ways, and I am grateful. Grateful that Sansa is okay (her mouth is healing), grateful that Fiona recognized something was wrong and yelled about it, grateful Ryan and Arya were concerned over Sansa rather than attacking her in a moment when she was obviously completely vulnerable. Grateful for Christine, and my vet and her team. Grateful to the powers higher than me that this lesson didn’t have to be a *really* hard one.

A lamp cord covered with 1/4 inch split loom tubingI have decided to cover all exposed cords in areas accessible to the dogs with split loom tubing. I bought ¼ inch for regular cords, and ¾ inch for thicker cables and cords. One hundred feet of each was only $22 on Amazon. Chances are, had there been tubing over the heating pad cord, I wouldn’t know more than I ever wanted to about electrical cord bite injuries, which is really the way I would have preferred it. A great in-depth article, including first aid, about electrical cord bite injuries can be found here

Last Updated on Monday, 09 March 2015 10:00
 
Bad Breeder? Think Again.
Friday, 02 January 2015 13:30

I don't often talk here about the problems that ALL breeders have with Animal Rights Extremists.  These folks are NOT about Animal Welfare; their goal is the elimination of all companion animals, among other issues.  They are full of hate, they have no open mind, and they paint all breeders with the same brush, whether they have one litter or 500.  I don't generally talk about these people here because this is my safe space for myself, for my little dog family, for people who love Dachshunds and for those who might need help or information.  I fuss about ARists on my Facebook page quite often, but even then, I don't think it often sinks in for people who see my posts, even with fellow show breeders.  They think, "Oh, my dogs are sooo well cared for, no one would ever be able to accuse me of being a bad breeder." 

Think again.

I was recently accused of being a bad/inattentive breeder and threatened with being "reported" and I didn't even KNOW it until yesterday.  Wanna hear the story?  You should, because even though this was relatively minor, it shows how people can misconstrue what they think they are seeing, and this could have EASILY been a major problem for me.  Very often, regular people get caught up in the AR talking points without even really knowing what they are saying.

Yesterday, I received this email:

I just found your webcam this morning.I have been watching the little puppy in the cage. His litter box is full, not just one day's worth, but many. He has no food or water. Someone came into the area, not on camera, but did not ever go to the cage and hold him, nor did they give him food or water. Other viewers have commented on this litter box being full. This poor little pup needs some attention. He needs some food and water.I am going to continue to watch and monitor this situation and report it if I see that it continues.You need to clean his box every day.

Watcher in Illinois

I emailed this person back and told him I didn't know what he was talking about.  I don't currently have baby puppies and I haven't since mid March through late May last year.  I do live stream my litters on The Pet Collective channel on YouTube, as a way to both keep tabs on my litters while I am at work and to educate people that most breeders don't have puppies living in squalor.  However, that stream hadn't been up since late May 2014.  I cautioned him against assuming he could really have a true handle on what was going on from a webcam.  I wasn't quite sure this wasn't some kind of scam, though his email appeared to be from an legit individual (I am in Data Security and have my ways!), so I asked him not to email me back. Later in the day, this kept bumping up for me.  So, I emailed him again:

Actually, the more I think about this, the more ticked off I am. WHO are you? Where did you get my email address? I don't currently have a webcam up and I haven't had one up for almost a year! That said, I would never ignore a puppy (my God, other things fall to the wayside b/c I spend so much time with my pups when I have them) or let waste pile up.

But the worst thing for me, besides the fact that you are totally targeting me when I don't even have an active webcam up, is that you think by watching a webcam for a few hours that you know exactly what is going on at the other end and you feel you can just start calling people out based on something you thought was going on. Something like that can tell a totally different story than reality. Kinda like you thought I was the person with the webcam.

He responded:

Dawn-Renee I appear to have reached the wrong person. Let me explain how I got your email.

I was on a webcam site,  earthcam.com and saw a puppy in a cage, barking, litter box full, with no food or water. At the bottom of THAT page, it said it was in  a place called Ruger Dachshunds located in Colorado.  It said if you were interested in dachshunds, to go to a page and gave the web address of rugerdachshunds.com.  When you go to that page, it gives the persons name, Dawn-Renee Mack, and an email  anderuel@rugerdachshunds.  It appeared that that was the person who maintained the webcam. That is the email I used and the email that you have responded from.

I noticed, when watching the cam, that in the comments section below it, several other people had made the same type of comment. That the litter box was full, the puppy cried non stop, no one came around etc. I was not the only person who had noticed that. Others had spoke of trying to report it.
 
As for you asking me to stop emailing you, I only emailed you  once.
 
I am only sending this so you know how/where I got your email. I apologize again for upsetting you, but I (and others) were concerned about this puppy on the camera. Perhaps if you know where this puppy is, you can look into it. It appears to be a live feed, but maybe it is not.

I will not contact you again, don't worry.

So, I went to earthcam.com and searched "Dachshunds."  DANG if a loop of my old webcam didn't come up!  When I was live streaming, I did see this link, but they were positive, so I didn't fuss about The Pet Collective stream being redirected.  However, once my live stream went down, this site continued to stream a loop of a random section of the stream, unbeknownst to me.  It appears to include time while I was at work, and puppy Emme, recently by herself because Sprocket went to his new home, is fussing about being in the pen.  She has a litter pan, with a layer of litter in the bottom (one poop, I think), a very clean puppy pen with lots of toys and an open crate.  She has water, and the empty pan from her breakfast, which she likely inhaled in 30 seconds.  She alternately fusses and cries for less then 15 minutes, and then falls alseep for the next almost 4 hours.  I guess at some point someone picks her up and loves on her, but I didn't watch the whole loop.  Here's the link: http://www.liveanimals.tv/dogs-and-puppies/wiener-puppies-dachshunds-webcam

Read the comments.  And then read my addition from today.  It doesn't even take DOCTORED photos or video for ignorant or uninformed people to start thinking that a dog is being "abused."

Frightening.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 January 2015 19:46
 
The Last Year, In ONE Post
Monday, 22 December 2014 06:19

arya fuzzyface
Yes, I suck.  I know.  I haven't updated this site in over a year.  But, I am trying to be better.  If you really want to know what's going on with Ruger, you may just have to head over to Instagram (@anderuel) or Facebook.

SO....the big thing.  Maximus is pretty much 100% of his old self.  It took him about 5 weeks to get his legs under him,but then he improved rapidly.  You would never know now that anything ever happened to him, and he's back to being a regular dog.  This protocol (+patience) really works; it's worked on my 3 and countless others.  Familiarize yourself with it before you need it.  It makes IVDD that much less scary.  If you have a Dachshund, it's just mandatory to educate yourself prior to having an issue.  Then hopefully you never have one.

Then, I started a new business, Oui Naturals, because I hated that I cringed and worried about what they were ingesting everytime one of the Dachshunds licked my freshly-lotioned legs.  We had a litter of two puppies by Cyndy Senff's Stig - CH Dynadaux Storm of Swords MW out of GCH Ryan.  One, Emme, a red smooth girl I would have liked to keep, is with some dear friends who are working her in obedience and eventually agility, and I will show and breed her if she turns out. She is incredibly smart; one of the smartest Dachshunds I've ever had. Hopefully, we can show the boy, Sprocket, who is up in FoCo with the parents of one of my sweetest dog friends ever.  I co-bred a litter out of Shelby (GCH Gator x DC Evie) sired by the same boy, and I took Arya, pictured above.  This puppy is a HOOT.  She likes everything except nails and baths, and she tolerates those just fine.  No one is a stranger to her, and we suspect she is a Golden Retriever changeling.  lol.  We have a new adult girl, Sansa, Dynadaux Winds of Winter MW, who is Stig's litter sister.  And we placed Finn with a wonderful family with two young boys.  We weren't looking to place Finn, but this family was so loving, and so deserving, and no one else would consider them because of the boy's ages.  They are just awesome, and Finney was the perfect fit for this family not interested in a puppy.

The site is woefully out of date, and that's something I am going to try very hard to rectify in the new year.  Love you all!

Last Updated on Monday, 22 December 2014 06:55
 
Lessons in Gratitude
Friday, 27 September 2013 08:50

Maximus in his sweaterSo, for years, I’ve talked the talk. I’ve said over and over that IVDD is not a death sentence, except in rare cases. Dogs don’t give a flying fig if their hind ends work or not; they don’t have the same hangups to which humans are prone. I’ve said, here is the best protocol. Follow it. I’ve said, patience is key for the humans. Until now, I’ve personally had two Dachshunds with IVDD, FC Tania ME ROMX (at age 6 and currently she’s 11), and her daughter, CH Evie SE (at age 5 and she’s currently 6). Evie was linebred on her dam before any problems were known. I’ve rehabbed or been closely involved in the rehab of countless others, both in and outside of my extended Dachshund family. There has never been one treated conservatively and immediately that didn’t get back up on his or her feet fairly quickly. Until now. I must walk the walk; or roll, as it were.

DC Maximus ME ROMX is down.

Maxi is fine otherwise…I want that to be clear right up front for anyone reading this who loves Maxi. However, I made some very significant mistakes this time around which endangered his life. Not only do I want to be very honest about this situation in general as an owner and a breeder, I think there are very specific lessons to be learned from my mistakes. Also, please be aware I have two very distinct sets of emotions regarding these events; my emotions as an owner, and those as a breeder. I will try to describe the events, then talk about the very significant impact this will have on my breeding program, but don’t be surprised if I wander back and forth between the two sets of emotions. It’s nearly impossible to keep them separated, but I will try.

Maximus in the grassOn August 15th, Logan was guarding the still-in season Fiona. Afghans (at least THIS Afghan) seem to stay interesting to the boys right up until they go out of season. Of course, she was totally out of season two days later. Logan and Maxi got into a little skirmish. I wasn’t right there, but Jody said when he was trying to split them up, Logan briefly hung by his teeth from Maximus’ right foreleg while Jody was holding Maxi up in the air by his scruff. Even though Logan outweighs Maxi by about two pounds, this was nothing that should have caused anything more than a little bruising, straining or stiffness. I couldn’t find any of those things, even two days later, on Maximus. I am not telling this part of the story to make excuses, but for full disclosure. The following Monday, Maximus was on our bed at bedtime, and something landed near his head (a pillow?) and he yelped. I went over him, and found nothing. He had acted perfectly normal all day, so I moved on. The next night, he did the same thing when a sheet fluttered over his head. This time, I found painful muscles right near the junction of his thoracic and lumbar spine; right behind the ribs on his right side. The very next morning, I started him on my back protocol at breakfast. At this point, he had zero neurological symptoms and no pain when I manipulated his neck, etc. I figured it was just muscle pain, and I would get him into my acupuncture vet and get him a massage. The back protocol is overkill for muscle pain, but it’s still indicated, and if the issue resolves in a couple of days, you know you simply were dealing with a soft tissue issue. The meds can be discontinued at that point without a taper for the prednisone. On the other hand, if the “muscle pain” morphs into something more serious, you are on all the right meds, and you have a head start. What I should have done immediately was to schedule him for blood work…to rule anything else out and to keep an eye on his liver enzymes. I didn’t. Mistake number one.

Maximus balancingMistake number two was being too optimistic that Maximus would recover just as the rest of the dogs I’d rehabbed did. By Thursday, August 22nd, he had neuro involvement. The next day, the 23rd, he was down. We went to acupuncture the 22nd, and I just thought, we need another session and some more patience and time. I should have, within seventy-two hours, steroid blasted him. But two weeks passed before that entered my mind. Once it did, my vet agreed, and we did blood work. His liver enzymes were through the roof, but my vet expected this with the immosuppressive levels of oral steroids he was getting. We probably should have been giving him prednisolone, rather than prednisone, from the start, as the former is easier on the liver than the latter, but prednisolone is not always readily available. His WBCs were also high, but my vet attributed that to the ticked-off liver. We steroid blasted him anyway, on September 6th and 7th. At this point, prior to blasting, he had been painful. Not horribly so, but enough it set my teeth on edge. After the blasting, that went away. We set him up with some Denamarin, to support his liver. In hindsight, we should have added that from the beginning (mistake number three), along with antibiotics (mistake number four). The following Tuesday, September 10th, we sent off blood work to check his liver enzymes. His ALT had come down a bit from pre-blasting (from 2200+ to 1458, where high normal is 84), but his ALK Phos had doubled to 15,000+, where normal is 212-ish. ALT is more concerning, and usually slower to come down, so we were fairly happy with these numbers. Unfortunately, over the next few days, he slowly deteriorated. On Wednesday morning, he refused food for the first time. That night, he ate. He refused to eat the next morning, then ate at acupuncture that evening. A dog on max prednisone is like a furnace out of control; it increases his metabolism to the point he is constantly thirsty and constantly peeing. My acupuncture vet was concerned about his wheezing. He’s always been a bit of a weird breather, and pain and being uncomfortable changed his breathing. However, she recognized he might be headed to pneumonia, and asked if I could get into my regular vet for chest films that evening, as she didn’t have the ability to do xrays. I called my vet and she said she would wait for me. I raced from Kittredge to Highlands Ranch in the pouring rain (this was the day of the start of all the Colorado flooding), and a chest film showed fuzziness if we really, really squinted and tried to find it. We decided to start him on oral Clavamox, just in case. Incidentally, a xray, which is usually worthless right after a rupture in terms of seeing anything significant, this time showed the herniation right where I had felt pain three weeks earlier. You could now see the disc material on the film because it was starting to calcify over.

I took him home and we had a rough night. Lots of drinking and peeing. About 5:30 am, I noticed blood on his crate pad. I frantically looked him over, as some dogs chew on appendages as feeling is returning. I quickly realized the blood was coming from his ureter, and I took him out again to pee. He was peeing blood, including clots. I texted my vet, who asked me to get him to the clinic, and to stop on my way at the ER and get a clotting factor test. It’s a long(er) story, but I was afraid he was going into DIC, which stands for disseminated intravascular coagulation. Clotting factors are produced in the liver, and a failing liver can cause acute DIC, where small blood clots form inside the blood vessels throughout the body. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disseminated_intravascular_coagulation: “As the small clots consume coagulation proteins and platelets, normal coagulation is disrupted and abnormal bleeding occurs from the skin (e.g. from sites where blood samples were taken), the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract and surgical wounds. The small clots also disrupt normal blood flow to organs (such as the kidneys), which may malfunction as a result.” DIC is a horrible death. I didn’t want him to go through that.

Maximus at the vet'sI raced him to the ER on Friday, September 13th. We pulled blood for the clotting factors. His PT was normal, 13 seconds on a scale where 12-17 seconds was normal. His APTT was 122 seconds, on a scale where 71-102 seconds is normal. I was truly frightened. We went straight to my vet’s, though Maximus was attended by one of her new vets, as my vet was going out of town that morning. We discussed options, including euthanasia (he was really that bad and I was afraid of DIC), but I saw him still looking at me with his eyes, and he looked like he wanted to fight. We knew he had a raging bladder infection, perhaps even a kidney infection. He was put on IV fluids and antibiotics. Blood work was pulled, and his WBCs, high just that Monday, were non-existent at .11, which means he basically had 110 or so WBCs in the sample, where he should have 7,000-16,000. His ALT was down some more, but the vet was concerned his liver might be shutting down. He did eat for them, but looked terrible all day; he wouldn’t relax. The few times he did get to sleep, he would invariably kink his IV and it would have to be adjusted. He was still wheezing terribly, so about midafternoon they took more chest films, and sure enough, he had pneumonia. So, he was fighting two very serious infections on top of everything else.

Maxi and meI went to work at about 10, after leaving him at 9 and sitting outside the vet’s for about an hour. I didn’t know what to do. I was covered in blood, and scared to death. Thankfully, my manager is a dog person, and I had dark clothes on. “What’s that on your pants? Ketchup? Okay.” I am pretty sure I would have been a disaster at home with nothing to do but fret. Plus, work was closer to Maximus than home. After work, I went to be with Christine, as she works near my vet. She offered to go with me to see Maximus; the afternoon update hadn’t been encouraging. We waited until the last minute, as we wanted him on the IV as long as possible, then we went to visit. I had a decision to make. When he saw us, he was instantly happy, and looked better than he had all day according to the staff. He was so tired, he fell asleep as I held him. I decided he was definitely not ready to leave me, and Christine and I felt he looked better than we’d hoped. I decided to take him home with tons of oral antibiotics and sub-q fluids and lots of prayers.

Maxi and ChristineI set my alarm that night to get up every 2.5 hours to potty him. I didn’t want the bacteria load in his bladder to be any higher than necessary. He looked great on the morning of the 14th, and terrible again that night. My vet’s voice echoed in my mind, “You have to give antibiotics 48 hours to work!” Saturday night was rough, and then Sunday morning, he was better. He was better still Monday morning, and I took him before work to my vet’s so he could be monitored and have labs rerun while I was at work. His ALT was higher again, but the vet felt this meant his liver was working again. WBCs were high now…29,000, but at least his bone marrow was also working. She said she would rather they be high than non-existent. The next day was Christine’s day off, and she came and stayed with him until I could get home from work. I had a corporate shadow that morning, so I couldn’t work from home until later in the day. By this time, he was looking great, so I have been bringing him to work with me almost every day. I have a great, shady spot, the weather has been cooperating, and I spend my breaks and lunch with him and he spends the rest of the time sleeping and getting better. He spends Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Christine. This way, he doesn’t have to hold his bladder. He’s almost weaned off the prednisone, and besides the last few days of Baytril, he is just on Gabapentin. He’s perky, looking for rabbits and wanting to GO every time he’s put down to potty. He’s got quite the fan club going at my yoga practice, as he goes with me straight from work on afternoons I attend 4:30 classes. My boy is back! We are continuing to monitor his blood work. Earlier this week, he was 6,000 closer to normal on his WBCs and his liver values are holding steady. We hope those will start to come down as his medication is decreased.

Maxi in his strollerIn the past, when I’ve had a health issue with one of the dogs, I inform the folks in my dog family immediately. I was really initially broken by what happened to Maximus, and I wanted to have some good news before I went to everyone officially (though many people knew). I kept waiting, and waiting, and the good news was slow to come. And then, when he lived after the infections, I was just too exhausted for a bit. Mentally spent. I guess you do whatever you have to, but I have no earthly idea how people with human children with serious, long term illnesses make it through. A weekend spent with his life in the balance just completely drained me. I have spent my time since re-exploring the meaning of the term “grateful.” I am so grateful. There just isn’t any better way to say it.


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There are varying reasons I haven’t had a litter in almost three years. After Evie’s IVDD incident last year, and her subsequent spay, my tiny breeding program was in tatters. I was unsure where to go or what to do, other than outcross my only intact bitch, Ryan, to the healthiest (and most correct; not easy in miniature wires) dog I could find. Maximus had produced some puppies who later went on to have varying degrees of IVDD, but the problems seemed to be almost exclusively limited to offspring out of bitches from one particular line. So, I (and others!) thought, just don’t breed Maxi to bitches from that line. After the problems became known, I disclosed to the few people who came to use him (or his sons) the problems I’d seen out of him, and refused two bitches (to their owner’s relief once I told them of the issues) from similar lines to the one with whom he’d produced issues. Once he hit eight years of age (he is nine now), I really thought I’d made the correct decisions. It seems as if most dogs who have what I think of as genetic IVDD are going to have it from four to seven years of age. After that, especially at ten or after, it seems to be more age-related. (These are simply my opinions, not scientific facts.) However, the number of problems around Maximus (Tania is his dam, and Evie is his half-sister on one side and his granddaughter on the other) indicate to me that in his case, it’s very genetic. Even at his age. How in the world is one supposed to have a breeding program when your best-producing stud dog doesn’t exhibit problems with a non-testable disease until age nine? While I x-ray spines at twenty-four months, I have found the results to be less than helpful. Tania had three calcifications. Evie had zero. And still they went down. All due respect to the Danish, who I believe require Dachshunds be x-rayed and have three calcifications or under to be bred, I think the problem of IVDD is far, far more complicated than numbers of calcifications. I actually have a theory, but that’s for another article.

Even before Evie’s issue, because of the overall lack of good conformation in miniature wires, I had been gravitating to the idea of attempting a breed down from standard wires. I have standard wire sperm that was initially intended for Evie. After Evie’s issue, I pursued the breed down idea in earnest. I have a standard wire bitch reserved from a line that is not only full of very correct and gorgeous movers, but very healthy Dachshunds in the thirty-some years this breeder has been breeding this line. She breeds a similar number of litters as I do, and follows her pet dogs closely, so I am pretty sure she would be aware of any problems. The majority of problems don’t generally occur in one’s own house, after all. My dirty little secret is that I prefer the in-between size of Dachshund, anyway. European standard size, large miniatures in the United States. In my opinion, eleven to sixteen or seventeen pounds is enormously functional and sturdy, and still easy to handle.   And it’s much easier to breed consistently correct ones than it is in the under eleven pound realm. If I were just breeding for conformation, maybe it would be easier? I don’t know. But when you are considering conformation with a large emphasis on the front assembly, “Dachshundy” temperaments, health, hunting ability (I want a very specific kind of hunter) and voicing, well…if size comes, great. If it doesn’t, well…size has never been a priority for me, anyway. To me, the former attributes are at the core of great Dachshunds. Great Dachshunds come in all sizes.

So, I have a long, long way to go. A small part of me wants to quit breeding altogether. A large part of me is plain heartbroken. Maximus and this line produced puppies that are very consistently pretty in type…many have lots of forechest and correct shoulder assemblies set well back from the neck and most are pretty movers. He produced laid-back in the house kind of dogs that are hell on wheels in the field, consistently voicing. Maximus is three champions from being the first wire DC ROMO of either size; that fact seems pointless now. So much of what I wanted, gone. But, another huge part of me is looking forward to a new adventure, with a new line and a new, very lofty goal. I was so lucky in so many ways the first time around…could I possibly be that lucky and more on the second try? We will find out. Thank God I am still relatively young! Wish me luck; I am going to need a LOT of it.

Maximus, who is now standing on his own, sloppily “walking” and has deep pain back in his rear feet, is currently at five weeks post issue. He still has control of all elimination and his tail wags beautifully, which is good for my soul! His cart from Eddie’s Wheels will be here just before the eight week mark. Perhaps he won’t need it long term...perhaps he will. I was counseled to wait on getting it to save the money. But I look at my boy, way past ready to return to his old life of going, going, going, and I know I have made the right choice for his mental health, regardless of outcome. He gives so much to me, and he has taught me so much, it’s the least I can do for him. I hope this cart ends up dusty in a corner, or donated to some other Dachshund, because Maximus is walking on his own again. But if that doesn’t happen, I know my boy will still be as happy as he was before, and that’s really all that matters.

I always knew that people with physical disabilities shouldn’t be pitied, and that they have just as much opportunity to live full and fabulous lives as their non-physically disabled peers. But I never truly understood that until now. Neither I nor Maximus needs or wants your pity. (Maxi-B says the only reasons you need to feel sorry for him is because he doesn’t get to bunny hunt 24/7 and he doesn’t get unlimited treats, lol.) His life will continue to be rich and full. Everything happens for a reason, even when the reasons aren’t readily apparent or fathomable. What a gift he has been to me, in so many ways. I am a fortunate girl.

 All photograpy by Christine Kim

 

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 27 September 2013 11:22
 
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