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My Secret Weapon for Protecting My Dachshund’s Back

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Rose Mary is an Air Force veteran and an Occupational Therapist. She has been a life-long dog parent.

Sebastian on his tray at the Vet

Sebastian on his tray at the Vet

An Ounce of Prevention and Then Some

I adopted my dachshund, Sebastian, in the Spring of 2007. Since doxies are susceptible to back issues, I had instituted certain prevention precautions from the time I got him. I had doggie stairs for my bed. My sister built gradual-rise stairs for the couch and the porch.

Unfortunately, Sebastian had to have back surgery in December 2009. After surgery, I was super vigilant. The problem with stairs is that, like many dogs, he would go up the stairs to get on the bed, then jump off. So, the stairs were banished, and he has not been allowed on the sofa or bed since. We had a ramp sturdy enough for all of us built for the porch. We broke him from “meer-catting” (getting up on his haunches to beg).

Sebastian Dec 2009, after surgery

Sebastian Dec 2009, after surgery

Picking Up My Doxie

I was even more careful than before of how I picked him up. I would scoop up his bottom and hind legs from behind with my right hand, and place my left hand on his lower chest. I would keep his head higher than his body and bring him in close to my chest. At some point in time, he started getting spooked when I went to put him down and I was afraid he would try to jump. So, I stopped picking him up.

Acupuncture and a Bright Idea

Sebastian started exhibiting prominent signs that his back was bothering him again in early 2012. We started taking him for weekly acupuncture, and he was responding well. Unfortunately, every time we tried to wean him from once a week to once every two weeks, he would backslide. At one point he lost movement in his hind legs just as he did before his surgery. Someone in our household came up with the idea to use a large serving tray that my sister had brought with her when she moved in. It was amazing that even with a paralyzed caboose, he dragged himself onto that tray!

Sebastian on his tray at Vet, getting his acupuncture treatment

Sebastian on his tray at Vet, getting his acupuncture treatment

Trays for Doxies

We were able to avoid a second surgery through acupuncture. Sebastian still goes for treatments; he goes every three weeks now. He can walk just fine, but he has the classic waddle for a dog that has back issues. I haven’t picked him up in years. When we go to the vet for his acupuncture, we carry him on the tray. I put it in the garage, flush with the doorway. He walks up and gets on, then into the car on his tray. He gets carried into the treatment room on the tray and stays there for his treatment. We head back to the car, then when we get home, I put him down at the garage door and into the house he goes.

I think even if he didn’t get spooked, picking up and lifting him would be a potential strain on his back every time. Assuming that I would put him down and walk him into the vet’s building on a leash, I am saving six lifts per vet visit—into and out of the car, and on and off the exam table. I see other doxies brought in for treatment. Many of them are being held by their parent with just one arm. They pick them up so that the doxie’s front legs are draped over the parent’s forearm. The back legs are just hanging. It makes me cringe.

So, this is my effort to launch a “Trays for Doxies” campaign.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2018 rmcrayne