Billie is my heart. God gave her to me when I needed her the most.
Billie was born on March 2 2005 in horrible conditions. She lived in a tiny cage with her mama and brothers and sisters at a small breeds puppy mill. My dad, who once raised doxies, was called to the site because the rescue organization knew him well and thought that he could help with what they had found. When they had arrived Billie's mama and siblings had all passed over the rainbow bridge. Billie was hungry and cold. My dad picked her up and put her in his shirt and took her home with him.
Now it so happened that 4 days after my dad met Billie it was my birthday. We already had a spunky little doxie named Freddie who ruled the roost. My dad thought that Billie needed another doxie, since we all know that they like to have a friend. He drove 2 hours and brought Billie to me, grinning from ear to ear, telling me happy birthday! I was thrilled. I had grown up with at least 5 doxies in the house at all times. Billie was beautiful. She had gorgeous long ears. She was a black and tan standard smooth and her back was very very long. I looked at her long back and looked at my dad, raising my eyebrows, wondering why he, a man who knew a good doxie bloodline, would bring me a doxie with this problem, and he told me her story.
Here's where the story takes a turn, so take a breath before you read. My beloved dad, the BEST dad anyone could every hope for…..left me that day forever. On his way home from giving me my Billie, the front wheel on his truck sheered off and he was killed. Billie is my heart.
Billie grew into a very long doxie with fabulous ears and the most beautiful almond eyes. She has the sweetest disposition. After we lost dad, she was my touch stone. My one thing...the last thing he touched. She helped me get through some very hard times and always seemed to know when I needed those special cuddles.
When Billie was 4 years old things started going wrong. Really wrong. My good friend and I would take our dogs for walks. Her dog, Stanley, a beagle, liked to play and he would jump on Billie's back with his front feet when we were out walking. He did this repeatedly for weeks.
One day when we got home from our walk Billie went and laid down on her pillow and wouldn't get up. She wouldn't eat. I took her to our vet and explained about Stanley. The vet thought that Billie's back was sore and said just to let her rest. So rest she did. About 10 days later she seemed to be fine and back to her old self, but then she started coughing. She would cough and cough and not be able to stop. I felt her nose. It was hot and dry. Her ears were hot. She quit eating and would only drink. I drove her up to the vet, her head laying on my lap. I was terrified. The vet took my poor sick girlie from me….I had to leave her there.
The vet phoned me an hour later. Billie was close to death with severe pneumonia. If I hadn't taken her to the vet she would have passed within hours. Billie had to stay 12 days at the vets. She was so sick. I went up every 2 days (it was a 40 minute drive) to see her. When the vet phoned that I could come and get her I was so excited! I immediately went to get her. She jumped and danced! We got in the car and she jumped around….and jumped in the back seat…..and stopped.
I thought something was odd? When I got Billie home she was dragging her left right leg. I didn't understand. I called the vet. She said bring her back-right now. I had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach. Every part of me was screaming no! When we got back to the vets she did some tests and said Billie needed to go to the emergency pet hospital in the city so away we went.
At the hospital in the city the specialist took Billie away from me. They x-rayed and did tests and then had me come and watch as they tried to help her walk. The Dr. told me he was sure that Billie was going to be fine. To take her home and let her rest. I went home feeling so much better. Billie was going to be fine! BUT….
The next morning when I got up Billie wasn't moving….she was paralyzed. She had IVDD. Her tail didn't wag and neither one of her back legs could move. She had no bowel, or bladder control. I called my vet. She told me to that there was nothing to be done and that the best thing would be to put Billie to sleep.
Now please understand dear reader that despite having had doxies my entire life, never once had I encountered one with IVDD. I had no idea what to do...none. I was sobbing...my husband took the phone and listened. He made an appointment for Billie to be put to sleep. I went and laid beside her on her little bed. Stroking that precious head. I cried and cried.
My husband came and stood over us. Looking at us he said 'Let's give her some time.' We agreed that we would give her a week. We called back the vet and rescheduled the appointment and the vet told us how to express her bowel and bladder
Every day was the same. I expressed Billie's bowel and bladder as the vet had instructed me. I tried to get Billie to eat. I cooked her little sausages. I would chew them up first and then she would eat the little bits...now people this was an act of true love...I'm a vegetarian!
Day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5...nothing changed. On day 6 I went off to play for a commitment I had. There was no music in my heart as I went. I sang. I played. With no soul. When I arrived home, all I could think about is I only have 1 more day.
When I got out of my car I saw that my husband had Billie outside with him. I was horrified! He looked at me and said 'Billie kicked her leg'
I said ' I think you are just seeing things'
He said ' no I'm not! I know how she loves the sun and thought I would let her lay out in the sun...this one last time...and she kicked her leg!!'
Still not believing him I walked into the house. I put my harp away in my studio and picked up a dog magazine that I had been reading. At the back of the magazine were the Dachshund adds. One of the adds said 'Fight IVDD go to Dodgers List.com' I sat there...looking at that add wondering if there was hope, when my husband called me in an urgent voice. I went running….and saw her leg kick.
We called the vet. She said if Billie's movement was going to return it would return in the reverse of what it left. That is what happened. The vet offered me no other help...none. I didn't know what to do. Remembering the add I went onto dodgerslist.com and there I found the fabulous Linda Stowe. With Linda's help I learned that Billie needed to be on complete crate rest for the next 6-8 weeks. That water therapy would help Billie gain her strength again. Gradually Billie got better. Her tail wagged! She regained bowel and bladder function, and then finally on the 5th miracle day, her other leg moved!
I cannot thank Dodgers List enough. Linda emailed or phoned me every day for two weeks. She answered every question and had invaluable information for me. She cared so much. There are just no words that can express the gratitude I have to Linda.
Billie wobbled for a while. She would stand up and fall over. For a while Billie could run but could not walk. She developed anxieties from being kept in the crate. To this very day, she hates that crate. Eventually though, she regained her motor control and could walk, but for several months you could hear her back toe nails drag very slightly.
We put in ramps every where! She no longer was allowed to go outside using the stairs. She was no longer allowed to jump on or off the couch. New commands were taught in our house. The first and most important being no jumping! The next thing was to get rid of the collars. No collars ever! Only harnesses….so much easier on their backs.
Billie continues to have some health problems. The pneumonia damaged her heart and we battle with heart failure now. She is on quite a lot of medication for that. This past winter she broke her tail and that caused her some back pain, so back in the crate she had to go. She was NOT happy with me over that one.
I strongly encourage all longdoglovers to go to dodgerslist.com and educate yourself about IVDD. Learn the signs. Learn what to do! Don't be caught off guard like I was. And above all….if your dog is diagnosed with IVDD don't give up. If the worst happens and Billie goes down again, there will be no thought what so ever of putting her to sleep. Dodgers List has educated me! Billie will have cool wheels, but of course I hope that will never happen.
Secondly, most of Billie's problems are most likely because she is the product of a puppy mill. Let's work together to ban these horrible horrible places.
Billie is my heart. God gave her to me when I needed her most.