Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This One Goes To Eleven

Happy eleventh birthday to our little buddy, Couper.

I can think of no better tribute to birthday number eleven, than this exchange from the movie Spinal Tap (quote courtesy IMDB):

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

Couper absolutely, positively and now literally goes to eleven.

Happy Birthday Little Buddy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

They Come in Brown? The Greatest Puppy Story Ever Told

On the tenth anniversary of us getting Couper, we are going to tell the often promised story of how we got him. It goes a little something like this:

Couper: Big Buddy, please tell me a story before I go to sleep.
Big Buddy: OK.  One story, then off to sleep you go.  What story is it you want to hear?
Couper: My favorite story.
Big Buddy: The one where you peed on the couch and I sat on it?
Couper: Yes, uh no.  I mean my other favorite story.  The one about how I became the Little Buddy.
Big Buddy: OK. Well, one day your mommy and I decided that we wanted the best little buddy in the whole wide world. So we called up Santa Claus and said, “Santa, please search the world over and find us the bestest little buddy in the whole land”.
Couper: Santa!?!
Big Buddy: Yes, Santa. So Santa looked and looked and he brought over a really really fine little buddy. We said, “Santa, that is a really really fine little buddy, but it is not the bestest little buddy in the whole wide world”. So Santa sighed and went back to his search.
Couper: Wow.
Big Buddy: Later Santa came back with an even finer little buddy. But it wasn’t the bestest little buddy in the whole wide world, so we sent him on his way again.
Couper: Poor Santa!
Big Buddy: Finally one day, Santa came to the door with the bestest little buddy in the whole wide world. Do you know who that little buddy was?
Couper: Me???
Big Buddy: Yup! You! We thanked Santa who replied with a hearty “Ho Ho Ho (you guys sure are picky...note to self, order more coal)” And we took you in and lived happily ever after.
Couper: That sure is a great story.  Is it true Big Buddy?
Big Buddy: You better believe it.
Couper: Wow. That’s a lot better than the story of how we found Godiva in the garbage.
Big Buddy: Couper! We did not find Godiva..
Couper: Good night Big Buddy. ZZZZzzzzzzz
Big Buddy: ...in the garbage...Good Night Little Buddy

Now that Couper is sound asleep, we can tell the real story of how we got Couper.  We tell him the story above, so if you see him, don’t mention anything I’m about to tell you.

It was early September 2003.  George W. Bush was in his first term. “Shake Ya Tailfeather” was #1 on the charts. The Simpsons were in their 15th season of doing flashback shtick where they tell you three things that went on that year.

Couper’s Mommy was in her first year of teaching and was living with her parents. I had been seeing Couper’s Mommy for about a year and a half.

We are going to introduce more characters, including one more that can be called “Couper’s Mommy”, so for the sake of simplicity, let’s just name our cast:

Little Buddy: Frank/Couper
Couper’s Daddy (2002-2003): Larry
Couper’s Mommy (2002-2003): Christie
Couper’s Mommy (2003-present): Jamy
Big Buddy: Big Buddy

There. That will help. Otherwise I would have to write a sentence like: “Couper’s former mommy called Couper’s Mommy to tell her that she had a dog…” and we would all be confused and I will go half insane a quarter of the way through this.

So, early on the morning of Saturday, September 6, 2003 Christie called Jamy to tell her that she had a dog who, if Jamy did not take it, was going to the pound.

The year prior, Jamy had been Christie's student teacher. Christie taught fourth grade. Her husband was a high school teacher. They had two daughters, probably about 4 and 6 years old at that point. They also had a large older dog that had been with the family for some time. At some point during the year, it was probably brought up that Christie had gotten a puppy for the girls.

The puppy’s name was Frank and he had gotten into big trouble that morning. Seems Larry was shaving, and not paying attention to Frank, so Frank peed on Larry’s leg. That was the final straw. Frank was out of there. Christie got one phone call to give him away or else it was the pound for Frank.

So, Jamy had to scramble. The first call was to her parents to see if they would be willing to have a dog in the house. Her parents are not really dog people, but surprisingly the answer was a qualified, trial period, yes.

Her second call was to me:

Jamy: Hey, I just got a call from Christie. She has a dog that either I take or he is going to the pound.
Me: What kind of dog?
Jamy: He is a miniature dachshund, 1 year old male with brown hair.

Now Jamy and I were both dog lovers.

I have wanted a dog since I was two and my parents bought me a book called “Solomon Shag” and a stuffed dog I named “Shaggy Wah Wah”. But despite my desperate pleas, I never got anything more than books or stuffed dogs. I always felt I was gone too much to get a dog once I moved into my own place, but I still always wanted a dog, the breed varying from cocker spaniel, to dalmatian, to lab. Basically whatever kind of dog I met last.

Jamy did have dogs growing up, but mostly they were guard dogs and definitely outside dogs. Her dream dog was a female chocolate lab which she would name Godiva (hey, we know that name!). I liked labs. My sister had two labs and they were great. So I was absolutely OK with this plan.

My exposure to dachshunds was pretty limited. Growing up, an older couple down the street had a black dachshund named Willie. Willie’s daddy was a proud Scotsman who occasionally would walk Willie in full Scottish regalia (yes, including the kilt). Willie was a nice dog who was always willing to be petted. At least when I wanted to pet him (meaning Willie’s daddy wasn’t wearing a kilt). Jamy’s brother also had a black dachshund named Frankie (hey, we know him!). I had met him once or twice to that point and knew him as the mellowest dog on the planet.

So, my first thought was, “great, lap dog”. My second thought was the stupidest question in my long history of stupid questions:

Me: They come in brown?
Jamy: I guess so.

In my defense, there really are not brown dachshunds, they are called red dachshunds, as pointed out in the 350 books and collectibles that we have gotten since. Still, I am pretty embarrassed by that question to this day.

Jamy: So, I am going to pick him up, show him to my parents and then bring him by.
Me: Brown, eh?
Jamy: I guess.

Jamy picked up Frank, showed him to her dad, who was wowed by his ability to play soccer, and brought him over. She brought in a small kennel (get a free dog, get a free kennel!) with the loudest little thing I ever heard. She opened up the kennel and out jumped the cutest brown dachshund I had ever seen (“OK, I guess I have seen brown ones”) who proceed to bark at me in my own house. As we learned through the years, this is his standard operating procedure. After he finally calmed down, I poured him some water in one of my fine 35 year old Corelle bowls and wondered what to do next. “Hey, I have some tennis balls, lets see if he likes that”. So, we went to the back yard, which at that point was pretty neglected and full of weeds after a summer of rain, and I threw the tennis ball. Couper ran through the weed jungle to where the ball landed, tail wagging so hard, you would think his heinie was going to fly off. I had just made a best buddy for life.

Now this wasn’t a done deal. She had to introduce Frank to her mom and figure out if and how this was going to work out. But one thing was clear at this point, we couldn’t let little Frank go to the pound.

So, with Frank’s future still a bit up in the air, I headed out to the stores for my usual Saturday errands. At K-Mart, I decided to take a look down the puppy aisle. Bowl? OK, can’t keep using the fine Corelle dinnerware. Treats? Yup, gotta have something other than water. Toys? I am pretty sure he will like those. (I bought the Daily Growl, a rubber squeaky newspaper that lasted at most 2 minutes and a rubber hamburger that was his favorite toy for years until the last one wore out and they inexplicably stopped making them). Trouble was I wasn’t entirely sure the dog was a done deal. I tried calling Jamy four times from the K-mart, but no answer. I bought the stuff anyhow. Next I went to Safeway. Hey, they have a puppy aisle also. More stuff in the cart. More unanswered phone calls. Bought that stuff too. In the end, I bought about $70 worth of dog stuff for a dog we may or may not be keeping (and wouldn’t be living with me anyhow - My ratio of dog toys to dogs living with me was infinity...even now, ten years later with three dogs, it is just below infinity).

I finally got hold of Jamy. The dog was a go, at least for the near future. She brought him over for Saturday night dinner. He of course barked at me the moment he came in the door. However, he did seem to like the $70 worth of stuff that I had gotten. From the start, the free dog was anything but free. He showed us how much he liked his new stuff and his new playland a little later by peeing in the kitchen. His house. Marked.

There was one more problem; he couldn’t be Frank. As mentioned, Jamy’s brother’s family had a dachshund named Frankie. Calling this dog Frank would be derivative, not to mention confusing. So, we went back and forth on names. Godiva was out, being that he wasn’t a she.  My suggestion, Regis, was voted down. We went back in Frank’s history. Before living with Christie and Larry, he had another owner. We didn’t know much about these people, we got something about them being older and the puppy was a bit much for them. Anyhow, his name with his first owners was Coupe (small, fast, and low to the ground?). We liked that and eventually decided to add the “r” to make the name ours. So, welcome Couper.

There was another problem, one that I only brought up in retrospect many years later. A dog was a really bad idea for Jamy at that moment in time. She was a month into her first teaching job, a second grade class. Anyone who has ever met a first year teacher knows that they are overwhelmed. She barely had time for anything but school stuff. Not to mention that first year teachers, and especially elementary school teachers, catch every bug that the kids bring in. The last thing she needed was a dog that demanded so much attention, he peed on his former owner’s leg when he didn’t get any. But what else were we to do? Let him go to the pound? Try to find yet another owner? I guess he could have stayed with me, but with an hour commute each way to work, I was gone more than I was home. There was more chance of people being home at Jamy’s parent’s house. So, it was a bad idea, but it was Couper’s best bet. I kept my mouth shut and let it play out. In the end, it was a bad idea short term, but the best idea for everybody long term. It has been the best ten years.

And that is the story of how we got Couper. But, if he asks, just tell him the Santa story, please. After all, he is the bestest Little Buddy in the whole wide world.

Side Notes, Afterthoughts, and other Miscellanea:

- Couper (Frank) peeing on Larry’s leg is why I always pay attention to Couper no matter what I am doing. I do not want my leg peed on. So, while shaving, brushing my teeth, on the potty, even in the shower when we had an open shower, I play with Couper. You can’t be too careful with that one.

- In 2011 Jamy had a student teacher. We had her and her husband over to the house one night. As Couper was his usual insane self, playing and demanding to play, I said to the student teacher, “See that one over there. If for some reason, he pees on my leg, by law we have to give him to you.” She gave me a look that was somehow a combination of confusion and terror.

- Above I wrote that Jamy’s dream dog was a chocolate lab. As we have stated before, her childhood dream was to have four dachshund puppies. I stand by the latter statement.

- Jamy eventually wound up having both of Christie and Larry’s girls in her second grade class (by design, when you are a teacher in the district, you get your kids in the class you want). When Jamy would tell the class tales of the mischief that Couper got into the night before, the girls would nod their head and say, “Yeah, he was like that at our house too”.

- The most tenuous moment of the last ten years came on Halloween night 2004, a little over a year after we got Couper. Christie, Larry, and their girls came by the house for Trick or Treat. We let them in to see Frank/Couper. The girls were having fun playing with him again, and he was happy to see them. When Larry said it was time to go, the younger girl, maybe 5 at the time, turned to her parents and said, “Now that Frank is all better, can we have him back?”. It was all I could do to keep from leaping across the room, grabbing Couper and yelling, “NOOOOOOOOOOO”. But, in retrospect, I needn't have worried, even momentarily. Larry, still nursing a peed upon leg, was having none of it. Christie diplomatically said, “No, Couper is Jamy and Warren’s dog now”. But it was a heartbreaking and frightening moment.

- I am an idiot. I let Jamy and Couper stay with her parents way too long. My fault entirely. However, some of the best moments of those years were either getting Couper or when Jamy brought him over. When I would go get him at Jamy’s parent’s house, you never saw a dog so excited. I would let him out of his kennel and he would jump up and down so much it took two minutes to get a leash on him. It was just as fun when Jamy brought him over. I had a huge three car garage and Jamy had a garage door opener and a place to park her car. From in the house, I would hear the garage open, the car pull in, then the garage close. Then I would a couple of barks, and then about 20 seconds of desperate scratching at the door and whining. Jamy would get to the door and open it, and my Little Buddy would burst in full speed turning the corner from the laundry room to the living room, all tiled, and to the sliding glass door so that we could go outside and immediately start playing. Maybe it was all too much fun and that is why I let it go on too long. If only I could go back in time and tell 2004 me that it would be even better if they were here all the time.

- It is a good thing that we didn’t keep the name Frank ten years ago, because who knew that 9 and a half years later, cousin Frankie would come to live with us. I wonder sometimes when I call Frankie by name if Couper thinks I am talking to him, but he doesn’t seem to react to it. Then again, he only really reacts to what he really wants to react to anyway.

- We sometimes wonder what would have happened to Couper if we couldn't take him and he had been taken to the pound. He was young and a pure breed (not to mention the cutest puppy in the whole world), so he may have had a great chance. On the other hand, he is so obnoxious when he first meets people that he might have scared people off, especially those with kids. It is the great dilemma with Couper, he is such a pain to meet, but then so great when he lets you in. Anyhow, in honor of Couper not going to the pound, we make an annual donation to the Humane Society every September. Hopefully it helped another Couper or two along the way.

- It took two families, but we were the perfect family for Couper. We were able to give him all the attention he could want. Well, that isn't true, he wants all the attention there is. We were able to give him all the attention we could give without him wanting to pee on us. And as it turns out, he was the perfect dog for us. Lot's of fun, not too big for our house or yard, and just cuddly enough to offset his almost non-stop playing. Thirty five years after Solomon Shag and Shaggy Wah Wah, I finally had my dog.

- Today we have a trio of dachshunds housed in a shrine for dachshunds. We have a red dachshund, a black and tan dachshund, and a piebald dachshund. Not a brown one in the bunch.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cousin Frankie

Meet Cousin Frankie. In April, he became newest member of our brood.

I know what you are thinking. There haven't been a lot of Couper's Poop posts lately, so they need a ratings booster. Kind of like Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch or Roy on the Simpsons.

You, of course, are exactly right. But there is a little more to the story.

Frankie is Couper and Godiva's cousin. He is the original dachshund in the family. Born a few months earlier than Couper and brought into the family probably a year and a half earlier, he is the prototype of what I considered a dachshund to be before I met Couper.

Frankie is the mellowest dog on the planet. He lives for the following: Food. Belly Rubs. Naps. Probably in that order. No more. No less. So, when we got Couper, I thought, "great a lap dog". Well, that couldn't be further from the truth, even though Couper does enjoy all three of Frankie's essentials.

Anyhow, Frankie is the product of a recent divorce. When all was said and done, there was no place for Frankie to stay. Somehow someone thought maybe we would take him in. Not sure how that came up. Maybe it was the Dachshund Coo Coo Clock (and the 950 other dachshund things we own, and, oh yeah, our two dachshunds). We were happy to help out.

There are many things I have done that I don't care to ever do again. Drop an anvil on my foot. Eat at Arby's. Watch the Golden Girls. New atop that list is taking a sixteen year-old girl's dog. Frankie was delivered to us by the girl who had grown up with him. She didn't want to give him up, but she didn't really have a better choice. She knew he was going to be at a home that would take good care of him. And as her boyfriend commented as he walked in our house for the first time and passed row after row of dachshund figurines and books, "I think he is in the right place." But, in a year, after she has graduated high school and gets a place of her own, if she wants Frankie back, she can have him. That is our pact, Frankie is with us or with her. And if he goes, we will miss him, but I will just have to think back to the day she delivered him and the poise and dignity in which she handled it (a thousand times better than I would have at her age) to know that it is going to be OK.

In (at least) the meantime, we have a third puppy! 

As you might tell from the picture, Frankie's sedentary lifestyle has led to him becoming more than a bit heavy. Unlike Couper and Godiva, who are classified as miniatures, but really are tweeners, Frankie is a full sized dachshund. But at the vet visit, he weighed in at a hefty 25 pounds, about 8 pounds heavier than he should be and 5 heavier than what the vet gave us as a high bar. So job one is to take some weight off. The first step was to ween him off his old food, which he had been getting in a big bowl for the day, and on to the two meal a-day plan with the snooty dog food (with Greek Yogurt) that Couper and Godiva get. He couldn't be more excited about the food. I think he is a little less thrilled with the portions and the schedule. But, wow, when we start making dinner, it is fun to see the mellowest dog on the planet become the most excited dog on the planet. And when it is time to give him the bowl, he jumps at it like Jordan in his prime going to the hoop.

He has also learned that potty time is yummy time. It is tough keeping track of three dogs when they go outside to go potty. Especially since they like to disperse in different directions with different missions. However, we always know when Frankie does something because he will come running at us, tail wagging at 3000 rpm, looking for his treat. And if it doesn't come right away, mostly waiting for Godiva to do her business, he will tell us about it. The yummy jump is almost as animated as the dinner bowl jump. (And, yes, we have taught him to sit, but just barely). He has also quickly picked up on the concept of Sunday Lunch.

But the weight loss has been a success. He may wish he was still getting to graze a bowl all day, but he really looks better and unofficially is down four pounds. When it stops being insanely hot, we will try adding exercise again (other than food anticipation jumping jacks).

So, Frankie is fitting right in. He sometimes will hunt lizards with Godiva (she is fanatical, he gives it 20 seconds at most, then proceeds to lie down). He works with Couper to get his new mommy up at 5AM to get breakfast. He tries to horn in on Godiva's special Belly Rub (though it is her time, so he at best gets a sneaky other hand chest rub). All in all, he seems pretty happy here in the house of spoiled dachshunds. 

Most importantly though, we are one step closer to Couper's Mommy's girlhood dream of having four dachshunds. I know that in earlier posts it may say that her dream was to have three dachshunds. Those were all misprints. It was supposed to say four. I blame the editors, the publisher, and the printer. 

Our new family:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The U is for Unique

From the good people, or puppies, at Dogster.com, the top 10 most popular puppy names in 2012

Top 10 most-popular puppy names of 2012 -- male 

  1. Max
  2. Buddy
  3. Charlie
  4. Rocky
  5. Cooper 
  6. Bear
  7. Bently
  8. Duke
  9. Jack
  10. Toby 
Despite the misspelling, we were really excited about #5. In fact, since Couper is our Little Buddy, we were fairly excited about #2 as well.

We were, however, a little concerned about the spelling of the name Couper in the list. We have mentioned before the origin of the name Couper. Short recap, it is a derivation of Coupe, his name from his first house. But in the end, it is fine that the name on the list is Cooper, not Couper. It just means that the name is popular, but our's is a bit unique.

For fun, lets take a look at the 10 most popular girl puppy names from the same article:

  1. Bella
  2. Daisy
  3. Lucy 
  4. Molly
  5. Lola
  6. Sophie
  7. Sadie
  8. Chloe (which is also the No. 8 most-popular baby name, freakishly)
    (We see you, Illuminati.)
  9. Coco
  10. Maggie 
Fine names one and all. I especially like the nods to rock and roll in the names Lucy, Lola, Sadie, and Maggie.

However, if you have a chocolate, or even just a brown, female dog, you absolutely have to consider the name Godiva. To be honest, I was as shocked that Godiva wasn't on the female list as I was shocked that Co(u)per was on the male list.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday Godiva!!!

Yes, despite all the doom and gloom (and the cliffhanger) from The Surgery, Godiva turns 5 years old today, not too much worse for wear.

Some day I will write about the rehab. It took me four months to be able to get through The Surgery, the rehab may be even tougher to write. But to cut to the chase, she can walk, though a little sloppy, and she has her spunk back. We are still rehabbing her. She has her good days and her less good days, but overall we think she is getting better. Still no climbing, so we have to assist her getting into bed. She has no issues jumping down, despite our best efforts (and whining to get back up about 15 seconds later).

So, on her fifth birthday (already???) we are just happy to have our little girl back again.

Happy Birthday Diverdoo!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Surgery

In the dachshund world “the surgery” is shorthand for back surgery, the kind that many dachshunds need because of their long backs and their activity level. On October 22, Godiva had the surgery.

It started, so far as we can tell, a few weeks before when she would reluctantly climb the four steps to our bed. We thought she was just scared. In the living room, we have a three steps to the sofa. In that apparatus, the top of each stair lifts out so that you can store toys or whatnot inside. A good idea (that we don’t take advantage of, still have toys all over the place), but we have seen Godiva step on the front edge of a stair and have the stair fall out. So, she has been a little cautious with those steps for a while. We thought she was transferring those fears to the bedroom steps, which is just solid plastic, but steps nonetheless (she is a puppy, what does she know from physics?). By the way, the reason we have steps to the bed and the sofa, Couper’s non-surgical back problems from a few years ago.

So, we continued on, wondering why Godiva was having issues with the steps to the bed. But things got worse. She would go up two steps, cry, wait for help, and either get help or struggle up the rest. She then refused to go up the stairs at all. She would just sit and cry at the bottom until someone helped her up.

But, we began noticing a few other things as well. She was not jumping up on our other sofa that does not have stairs, the one she loves to climb onto the back cushion and nap. She also wouldn’t jump on the sofa with stairs, thereby avoiding the scary steps. It was like she wanted to get up there, but just wasn’t able to. 

I don’t think there were other signs. Not that we remember. Maybe she squealed once or twice when we picked her up? But she always did that. Did she limp at all? Not that I remember. In fact, I remember Couper limping on his front legs a couple of times in the last few months, but nothing with Godiva. The ironic thing is that she had just begun enjoying, and demanding, to play. She always like to play outside with the big balls (small basketballs or footballs). With the weather cooling off, we were able to do that more frequently. But, she also started liking to play inside with the small rubber balls that Couper normally plays with. And by playing, I mean she liked to play keep-away and tease people with the ball and run away. Eventually, she learned it was fun to give up the ball every once in awhile so it could be thrown and she could chase it. When we went into the living room to watch TV, she would lie on the floor with a ball and whine until I came down on the floor to play. And I gave in, because, that is what I do, and I figured it might help her shed a little weight.

As the days or weeks wore on, it became more obvious that something was going on with Godiva. One night she just could not get comfortable in bed. Since she usually sleeps by my side, her constant readjusting kept us both awake all night. Then there were the screams during her and Couper’s after dinner playing. Usually they chase each other around the living room after dinner and potties. Couper will inevitably try to mount her to prove he is top dog. The last couple of times they did this, she let out a huge scream. Finally, there was the screaming and crying she did before we left for work in the morning. At that point, we knew we had to do something.

I went to work that Wednesday knowing that we had a vet appointment for Saturday when both Godiva’s Mommy and I could be there with her. However, she was so bad that morning that I got an afternoon appointment and left work early. When I got home, Godiva was basically sitting on the ground shivering and unwilling to move. She could move, but not unless she absolutely had to. I got Couper pottied, got Godiva in a kennel and off to the vet we went.

We had been down this road before. When Couper was 4 (the same age Godiva is now), he started having back issues. He was x-rayed, diagnosed with a herniated disc (and one too many vertebra), given anti-inflamatories and pain pills and sent on his way. The second time he had problems, later in the year and in a new location, he got the same diagnosis, medicine, and a new order, six weeks bed rest, which, given his hyperactivity, we did the best we could with. But both times, he bounced back.

So, as Godiva and I waited for the vet, I was pretty sure of what was to come. Godiva got x-rayed. We saw possible issues, but nothing major. They do a test with the back paws where they fip the top of the paw under her and see if she corrects it. She did. That was a good sign. We got anti-inflamatories and pain pills. And we went home. Same as with Couper.

By Saturday, she was not really doing better, but she was not really worse. Compared to Wednesday, when she was a ball of pain, she was better. She would move, but was was a little clumsy with her walking. We reported as much to the vet when they called to check up on Saturday morning.

Saturday night she was much worse. She was a lot like she was on Wednesday and walking even more clumsy. We wondered if the pain meds were messing with her (Godiva’s Mommy thought the pain pills were numbing her, and I thought maybe she needed steroids for strength) and were sure she needed more time to recover, but got the sense that maybe something more was wrong.

On Sunday she was just as bad, if not worse. We left a message with the Vet to get us in as early as possible on Monday.

At 9am Monday I loaded Godiva into a kennel to go to the Vet, much as I had the previous Wednesday. This time I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had my fears. We saw a different vet, our regular vet actually, who once again showed me the x-rays from the previous Wednesday, but this time said that we should get Godiva operated on, the quicker the better. The paw test that Godiva had passed last Wednesday was not passing this Monday. He set up an appointment for me that morning with the veterinary specialists at what is actually our emergency vet hospital and sent us on our way.

Before I left, I called Godiva’s Mommy from the lobby of the vet’s office. I got patched through to her classroom and tearfully explained that Godiva needed surgery as soon as possible. As I was talking I looked over to the nurse/receptionists at the desk. I felt bad that I was having this emotional moment in front of them. However, as I picked up Godiva’s kennel and headed out the door, a woman and her husband were coming in the door, dog in arms, frantically yelling that their dog could not walk. I realized that they must see this all the time and that working in a veterinary office is not fun.

Regular vet offices are bad enough. Emergency vet offices are worse. I at least have some good memories at the regular vet. Good check-ups. Picking up the puppies from vacation boarding. Seeing how much Godiva grew each puppy shot session. I have no good memories at the emergency vet. By definition we are there at an unnatural hour for an unnatural reason. Usually Sunday nights for tummy issues. So going into that building always brings back bad memories. It made bringing Godiva there for surgery even worse.

The first thing I noticed about the first doctor we saw was his age. I realize I am old, and there are plenty of professionals who are younger, if not much younger, than me, but this guy looked like he was 18. So, while he is doing the exam and providing me with what I am sure was critical information, all I could do was worry about his age:

“Is he just out of vet school? Has he attended vet school? High school?”
‘Has he ever done this surgery? Any surgery? Carved a turkey?’
“Why would I rather this guy replace my computer’s hard drive than cut into my puppy’s back?” 

Much to my relief, he told me that the vet doing the surgery would be available in a few minutes to look at Godiva and advise me further. I caught this somewhere between my thought process of, “Maybe this guy is some sort of Doogie Howser veterinary prodigy” and “If he looked like Marcus Welby, wouldn’t I worry about his hands trembling?”

The operating vet was of an acceptable age range, so I listened to his diagnosis. If I learned anything that morning, I learned that the disk in your back is “like a jelly donut”. I was told that three time by three different vets. They must teach that in Vet 101a. Anyhow, it was likely that one or more of Godiva’s jelly donuts got too much pressure and was oozing jelly. They would do some imaging, and if that was the case, they would have to operate. The vet explained that this is common with dachshunds and that they do 2-3 of these surgeries a week. He also said that the only way to prevent it is to “box them up and put them on a shelf.” With that, they scooped up my huddling, shaking puppy girl and whisked her away.

Unlike human hospitals, which have those dreadful waiting rooms with horrible TVs and outdated magazines, I was told to go home and they would call me. I found out that when you are waiting for medical results on loved ones, my home, with the nice TVs and the current magazines, is just as dreadful.

Of course, they never call within the timeframe that they say they are going to call. Which of course gets my mind racing, “Did they do anything?” “Did they find something worse?” “Did they just forget about her?” Eventually I called them:

Me: I am calling for a status on Godiva.
Them: OK. Hold on. What’s the name again?
Me: Godiva! I brought her in this morning with a back problem. They were going to do imaging and let me know if surgery was needed. Why do I even need to tell you this! Godiva! You know, the cute dachshund in pain!!! How can you ask me who?!? Why do you even have other patients?!?!?”

Of course it didn’t go like that, out loud. But, I would have to wait for a call back from the doctor. When that call back came, I got the news, Godiva had a ruptured disk and needed back surgery. It was scheduled for 4PM and usually takes an hour to an hour and a half.

More waiting. Godiva’s Mommy came home and we had a good cry. We watched every step Couper took and scolded him for almost any activity more strenuous than scratching his ear. At that moment, if we could have boxed him up and put him on a shelf, we would. Mostly though we worried about Godiva.

Another call to the vet. Another we will call you back.

Finally around 6, we got the call from the vet. It was the younger vet I met with earlier. Godiva was out of surgery, it went well, and she was fine. Relief. Her prognosis for recovery was “OK”.
Our relief turned to concern. That was hardly the optimism we were hoping for. He told us that since it is such traumatic surgery, it is difficult to tell this early how well she would recover. In my earlier meeting with him I had asked if after the surgery, “When we pick her up will she come bouncing through the door tail wagging?” I got laughed at. We had no idea at that moment, but would come to find out why he was guarded in his optimism.

Later we got a call from the operating vet. He was a little more optimistic. They fixed the disks that were ruptured and fenestrated the ones that hadn’t to prevent this from happening again. He told us that we could come visit her the next day and come home the day after that. He also mentioned that recovery is still a long road and went over some of the steps in the process.

Godiva’s mommy had student conferences that Tuesday, and since the emergency vet is on the way home from my work, we agreed that I should go visit. I wasn’t excited about going alone, but certainly wanted her to be visited. Neither of us had any idea what to expect.

I got to the emergency vet around 4:45 Tuesday. They brought me into an empty examining room and went to get Godiva. She did not come bouncing through the door tail wagging. She was carried in by a nurse swaddled in a blanket and shaking. They gently placed her on the examining table, which is more or less like a small 1970’s kitchen counter. When the blanket was unwrapped I could see the damage. Her back was shaved from the base of her neck to the base of her hiney. Her back was swollen and humped. And right down the middle was a seven inch scar held together by stitches. She looked like an oversized football.

She sat on the table shivering and crying. She tried moving around a little with her front paws, but wasn’t too successful. Considering she was sitting on a counter, that wasn’t the worst thing. So I bent down, hugged her, talked to her, and tried to steady her. She just kept shaking and crying. For thirty minutes this went on. I really wanted someone to come look at her to see if she was alright. No one came. Finally I quickly poked my head out the door, they had not bothered to close it, and asked for help. When the nurse came back in, she explained that this was to be expected. She just had major surgery don’t you know. She also mentioned that she hadn’t eaten and it was dinner time. Maybe I would be able to help her eat. Sounded worth a shot. She came back with a bowl of shredded chicken, which under normal circumstances, Godiva would devour. Not this day. She would have none of it. I tried for another half hour. Finally I caught hold of the nurses again. I had to get home and take care of Couper. They took the bowl away and fifteen minutes later came to take Godiva. A more depressing hour and a half I am not sure I have had. On the positive side, bending over to hold her on that table provided me with sympathy back pain.

Based on that visit, I was certain that we would not be picking her up the next day. She was a shivering huddled mass that certainly required more medical attention. Early on Wednesday morning, I got a phone call from the vet, “Godiva is ready for release. When do you want to pick her up?”

So Godiva’s Mommy and I decided to meet at the vet at 4:45 on each of our ways home from work. It was the same routine and the same puppy as the day before. This time, it was Godiva’s Mommy’s turn to be shocked. 

For the check-out procedure, a couple of veterinary techs showed us the rehabilitation exercises that they told us were the key to her recovery. Let’s break that sentence down. Godiva was checking out after being at the vet for almost 48 hours after surgery. We, people with no experience in animal physical therapy, were then responsible for Godiva’s recovery. We were being taught by people barely more experienced than us. So, the bottom line, we give them $4500 for surgery AND we are responsible for her recovery. Not comforting. Add to that, we are looking at a hunched over shivering crying shell of a puppy. It wasn’t like we were working with what she was even three days before. So, we got the instructions. Make sure she can pee on her own. Clean her up so she doesn’t get saddle sores (or the equivalent). Physical therapy three times a day by lifting her by the tail bone and moving her back legs up and down and in a bicycle motion. Finally, having her “walk” by rolling up a towel, putting it under her tummy, and letting her front legs drag the rest of her body forward. Those were our tasks for the next three weeks until her followup exam. Gotta say, we were more than a little scared. That she screamed almost every time we touched her made it worse. But, what can you do? We were just happy to have our little girl back. We were hopeful she was in there somewhere. 

We were in for the most exhausting three weeks of our lives.

Next: The Rehab

PS: What happened and what could we have done differently?

When Couper hurt his back and we got meds and orders for rest, we did not have Godiva yet. Though we laugh at the notion of Couper resting, we did kennel him when we were gone and took it easy playing with him during his recovery. For one reason or another, it worked out.

When Godiva got hurt, we figured it would work out the same. However, we did not kennel the two of them when we were gone; we let them free in the kitchen. They also had each other to play with, and Couper sometimes is not exactly gentle.

If I could go back in time, I would tell slightly younger me to kennel Godiva after she got hurt. Especially, I wish we had kenneled her (and Couper) the Friday after her first vet visit when the yard guys come. Couper and Godiva do not like the yard guys. In fact they try to attack the yard guys through the glass doors in the kitchen. Although she did not show signs of being worse until Saturday afternoon, I am sure jumping around on Friday did not help. Every day, I wish I had that day back.