Today's interview comes from Portugal where we talk to the lovely Iris about life with her paralyzed, long haired, Miniature Dachshund called November Sky (or Sky to her friends).
Sky first showed signs that she was struggling to walk in late October 2016. Iris initially suspected that Sky’s problems walking were associated with a cyst that had been found on her kidney earlier that year. Not long after Sky's condition became worse. One morning she was unable to get herself out of her crate herself into a sitting position. "We rushed her to the local vet, who told us it was her intervertebral disc disease, and she needed six weeks crate rest. With luck she might walk again."
Iris shares more of her story, including their daily routine.
What is it like caring for a dog with IVDD?
We knew that we had to establish a good routine to ensured that Sky was kept healthy and free from infections. There are no books on how to look after a disabled pet, so we had to make things up as we went along. Initially, it seemed like we were changing and washing towels every couple of hours until I found incontinence bed sheets and infant diapers.
Sky is not on any mediation unless she has an infection. After what seemed to be very long time, crate rest was over, but Sky was still not able to walk. She manages to move herself around by scooting around on her bottom, where she became quite quick. She liked to go outside, but our concrete yard would cause cuts and grazes on her legs. I made a sling out of an old scarf, which allowed her to run in the grass, but was not very stable and hurt my back.
We purchased a drag bag to minimise the damage to her legs and keep her clean. It took a little while for her to get used to it. Once she discovered it gave her the freedom to move in and out of the house, she was off! However, the rough concrete quickly shredded the drag bag so we started to look at alternatives. This included a dog wheelchair but we found they were too expensive so we decided to ask for help from the newly set up Gunnar’s wheels foundation.
Jason Parker responded immediately, asked some questions and agreed to loan Sky a set of wheels. Although they arrived very quickly, they were kept in Portuguese customs for 3 months. Eventually they arrived and much to our delight her first time in her new wheels, she took off like a rocket, chasing the scent. It still took her several weeks to get used to the wheels. Now 18 months later, she is amazing on her wheels, she spins round on them, dances, sleeps in them (during the day), goes backwards.
Depending on the weather Sky spends most days either out in the Sunshine in her wheels or inside curled up in her basket. At nights she is in her crate where she sleeps on towels which allows her skin air time.
Back in 2016, we made the decision to give Sky a chance, not knowing how much work would be involved. As we worked for ourselves I had the time needed to devote to her care. I am so happy I did. This little dog makes me smile every day and I treasure the time I have with her.
Keep in touch with Iris, Sky and their wider family of humans, dogs, chickens, ducks, goats, turkeys and donkeys on instagram.
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