Dogs Are Family, Too – Part 2

UPDATE – June 30, 2013:

My brother in 1973 at the age of 15 tried with all his might to build a wheelchair for DeeDee but the technology wasn’t there yet.  If DeeDee had been alive and became crippled today, new options are available, see below:


On Presidents’ Day in 1970, Bob and I were visiting the local mall as we often did. We came across one of those pet stores that had the cutest little puppies in the window. Inside, we saw a wonderful looking long-haired dachshund pup. If I recall, the sale price was $800. That was a great deal of money for us back in those days. But, we had our trusty plastic card and went ahead and purchased her.

DeeDee2DeeDee, as we named her, was a lovely little puppy–perfect in every way.   Her coat was deep, rich, red for the most part, but the tips of her long hair and ears were brilliant black.

We were apartment dwellers and had two little boys–Bobby, 4, and Jeff, 2. DeeDee had a litter of pups after her first heat.  We sold a couple and gave two to friends and neighbors. But before they were old enough to adopt, our toddler, Jeff decided to give one of them a swim in our toilet bowl. Bob literally wrung her little body out and then gave her mouth to nose-and-mouth CPR and restored her breathing.  Our neighbors adopted her and named her Muffin (because they loved to bake). My brother’s friend, Steve, took the last of the litter. They named him Socks. Apparently, Socks had quite an attitude. He loved his family unconditionally but never socialized with other dogs or people. And, he was just ornery enough that he lived a good long life to the ripe old age of 12.

Meanwhile, Dee Dee developed an allergy to grass, making her times outside in Spring less than perfect.  But, her times inside and out with our boys and family were extraordinary. In the video below you can see just how much DeeDee loved playing in the snow and with the rest of our family, friends, and neighbors. “Riley,” a red Irish Setter, was DeeDee’s friend who lived in the apartment next to us. Based on DeeDee’s always happy behavior and her socialization skills, I would highly recommend the dachshund breed as a family pet.

In March 1973, we learned we were going to become parents for the third time in November. This event would really round out our family:  two boys, one parakeet named Sherman, and six 29-gallon tropical fish aquariums in our den filled with thriving kissing gouramis, angelfish, tiger barbs, neon tetra, silver dollars, and plecostomus (sucker mouths) that helped keep the tanks clean. Also, Bob was working in the printing industry during the day and traveling to The Computer Learning Center in Springfield, Virginia, evenings. He was studying computer programming which meant he was maintaining 18-20 hour days away from home and my full-time job was to care for the boys, the parakeet, the fish, the apartment, and DeeDee.

One morning in early summer we awoke to find Dee Dee unusually quiet and still. As we coaxed her to come and inspected her more closely we discovered that overnight her hindquarters had been paralyzed. We took her immediately to our vet. He said we had only two options–to euthanize her or to see how she and the family could adapt to her new life of crawling on her two front legs like a seal. The vet taught me how to evacuate her bladder and bowels which also were paralyzed. We took DeeDee home and she immediately started navigating using her front feet only. Her attitude and behavior were unchanged. She was still a happy, playful little dog. My 15-year-old brother, Frank, tried building her a cart for her hind end. He used a belt, a skateboard and roller skate wheels. He went through several iterations, trying to keep it balanced so it wouldn’t fall over on its side when she went around corners. But, all attempts failed and she was back to the seal approach. This worked for a while, but her belly soon became irritated and infected from being dragged across the carpets and hardwood floors. Despite our best efforts and as difficult as it was for all of us, inevitably, we had to have DeeDee euthanized. We believe the cause of DeeDee’s paralysis probably occurred during the night. DeeDee must have gotten up on the couch or chair and when jumping back down with her long back herniated some of the discs, which then pressed on her spinal column and paralyzed her lower half. As much as we loved DeeDee, we never got another dachshund because of their known problems with their backs. DeeDee was only 3 years old, but she was definitely a big and happy part of our family and lives on in our memories today.

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