Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ziggy the Cardigan Corgi IVDD 1 year anniversary

Ziggy moving on his own now looks odd to me.
And I miss it.

December 3, 2011
The incision the day after surgery.

Moving in the sling.
We've now progressed to hind end movement, too - 
but still in the sling.

Today it has been one year to the day since Ziggy went in for IVDD surgery.

If you're a regular reader of the blog, you know that Ziggy is still not yet walking, but continues to slowly progress.  Z had quite a few inches of his spinal cord impacted by the ruptures and corresponding hemorrhage, and nerves heal quite slowly, so we are still optimistic.  As long as Ziggy is making progress we'll continue to work and hope.

This has not been the easiest year in my dog-owning life, but I've learned a lot about IVDD, canine rehab, and the special/crazy commitment so many people have to helping dogs with this disease.  I've also developed some opinions on IVDD that some may not agree with.

Here are some of my thoughts:

I believe IVDD has a strong genetic component.
  • Both of my dogs that have had the disease also have very close relatives who have suffered from IVDD.
  • Though no genetic marker has been found, a study of family lines in dachshunds found that while overall prevalence in the breed is ~19%, in some families it was 62%.
  • I believe we should be honest and transparent regarding dogs that have IVDD, or have had an IVDD "episode," so smart decisions can be made in breeding.  I've used to do this for both of my dogs who've had IVDD - it's recorded in the "notes" section of their profiles.  

IVDD isn't caused by bad care.
  • I keep my dogs lean and fit.  
  • I provide them with sofa stairs and ramps.
  • I try to keep them from doing stupid things -- which is often impossible :)
  • I believe that if a disc is going to go, it's going to go.  Yes, good preventive care is needed to help protect long-backed dogs, but preventive care won't prevent a disc from going.  Ziggy's disc went when he was out in the yard for his before-bed pee.  No roughhousing, no craziness.  Just walking in the yard.

The people at Dodger's List are a godsend.
  • If you have Cardis, or another breed with a high prevalence of IVDD, you NEED to go to this site.  Now.  Before something happens.
  • At a minimum, read the FAQ's so you have some grounding in what to look for and what to do if something (heaven forbid) happens.
  • They also have a survey to collect information on affected dogs.  They include Cardigans, and I submitted information on both my dogs, in hopes that some day we can have statistics on IVDD in Cardis.

In Cardigans, we need to take this more seriously than we seem to be at the moment.
  • At the 2011 National Specialty, one of the leading experts in IVDD treatment gave a lecture.  Hundreds of Cardi people were at the specialty.  Around a dozen people attended. 
  • I attended and what I learned helped me tremendously in the first few post-rupture days with Ziggy.
  • Through my Facebook friends, and following blogs, it seems that quite a number of our dogs are having problems, yet I do not often see this mentioned as a problem in the breed.

Dogs will heal on their own timeline.
  • Right after surgery, our surgical vet predicted Ziggy would be walking by the New Year.  I guess he didn't specify which new year...
  • A few nice Cardi people whose dogs had been through disc surgery emailed me, assuring me that it took their dogs a few months before walking.  Ziggy missed that memo, too.
  • Cardis are bigger and bigger boned than Dachshunds and this impacts healing time, so much of the "time to heal" info that's out there doesn't apply to Z.  
  • It was the Dodger's List folks who have kept me hoping.  In reply to my posts on their list, they assured me that many dogs take longer than expected, and reinforced that as long as progress is being made, there is still hope that a dog will walk.

The cost and effort required to help a dog with a disc rupture are tremendous.
  • The initial decision about what to do after a disc ruptures is not easy, and, after living through a year of Ziggy care,  I will not judge the choices other people make.

Please contact me if you ever experience something similar with your dogs.  I am happy to help, support, and share as much as I can.  I know that it's an extremely emotional and difficult thing to go through.  I can relate, and hopefully I can help.


  1. Ziggy was so fortunate to have you as his people. Many dog owners lack the resources to give the care and rehab that he has had. When Kip, my first Cardi, went down, it was after I had placed him with long time friends and they also spent the time and money to bring him back. It was about seven months before he was taking tentative steps on his own. Now, years after his surgery, he walks and sort of gallops -- a bit wobbly, but he gets around on his own. He is still the sweet, happy boy that he was before he suffered the IVDD episode. He has had a couple of set backs since then that required crate rest for weeks. He slowly comes back each time. We need to figure out the genetic component so we can breed around it as much as possible. It is unfortunate that there is no study at the present that includes Cardigans.

  2. Wonderful post! I pray I will never need your advice and wisdom, but if I do, you will be hearing from me.

    I agree that IVDD is common in the breed. Now that so many of us have blogs or post to FB, I hear of an awful lot of Cardis w/ issues. I know my 1st Cardi born all the way back in 1986 had it, but thankfully never went down in back until his last 6 months at 16, after years of cumulative nerve damage. It still caused many painful episodes.

    I truly live in fear of it happening to one of my boys, but let them live life on their terms. No matter how much I love this breed, I am not sure I can do another Cardigan.

  3. You already know how much I have to say on the subject.

    Taryn says "No matter how much I love this breed, I am not sure I can do another Cardigan" and I'm pretty sure I've heard you say the same. I could feel the same way, but it's been so hit and miss for us. Except for the litter that Denzil came from, they've been isolated incidents. The only one who lived with us and went down was Juneau, at the age of just under five. I am thankful now that he only sired three litters, and that none of his offspring have gone from IVDD (DM however . . .). It has now been over nine years since he left us, and I'm still not sure I would ever go through surgery again. The fact that he never did walk without a cart after surgery probably influences my decision.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm just holding my breath and waiting for the shoe to drop.

  4. Lani, I read your post several hours ago, have re-read several times and have been thinking about it. As you know, Bobby is on crate rest for mild disc disease. I am thankful that it was caught early and that he is well to treatment and tolerating crate rest reasonably well. I have to admit that I am daunted by the prospect of managing his condition once the crate rest period has ended. Bobby approaches life at full speed. I believe his motto is "why walk when I can run like a fool?" I am struggling to find a way to keep him safe and let him enjoy his life. I've got a few more weeks to try to figure it out.

    You have been a valuable resource during this episode and you will never know how much that has meant to me.

    As always, I send my very best to you, Ziggy and the rest of the pack (2 legs and 4 legs)

  5. Thank you for the post and all the information about your progress with Ziggy.


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