Today would have been Bullet’s 4th birthday. I started writing this journal two weeks ago as a way to work through my grief. Please forgive editing errors I may have missed. Every year I made a carrot cake for Bullet for his birthday (only for his though- not all of the dogs get their birthday made into a big deal) and we have decided that we will continue to do so every year moving forward. We will celebrate Bullet and all of our dogs on Bullet’s birthday. After all, if it hadn’t been for this perfect Dachshund, I would never have learned how amazing this breed is.

Bullet’s 3rd birthday – 2018

Going to bed without Bullet that first night was the hardest thing I ever did. I hated when I would travel without him and had to go to bed without him but it was even harder in our bed where we belonged. Ammo and Ricki went to bed with us as always and Cali joined us because some nights she decides she’s not sleeping with my daughter. Nobody took “Bullet’s spot” in my arms and I cried myself to sleep but woke up during the night with Cali in my arms, Ricki at my knees right below her, and Ammo pressed against my other side. They came to me and surrounded me and it was an amazing comfort.

I keep remembering all the silly things that made Bullet the most special perfect Dachshund. He was totally obsessed with our fish tank and would randomly “rediscover” it. He’d cry and carry on and watch them for hours. He loved to get up on my desk and plant himself right in the middle of my lesson plans and laptop, put his face in mine, and demand all of my attention. On his less needy days, he would just insist that I sit with my foot on my leg to make a nest for him to sleep in. And of course I always humored him.

I home school our daughter and Bullet loved to snuffle and whine while he sat pretty asking to be picked up and snuggled while we would read her history or science- usually because I had removed him from my lap so that I could stand and read over her shoulder with her. If I didn’t respond, he’d jump up to the back of the couch where he could be harder to resist.

I joked that my husband trained Bullet not to like men for my husband’s peace of mind. Bullet was not a fan of men. He would growl and act tough even when in my arms. He loved my husband and my boys though. It was his sworn duty to make sure no strange men were ever comfortable in our house. And once he loved somebody, he would “gopher” (as my father-in-law likes to call his sitting pretty) at them until they’d pick him up and pet him. Although he was not a perfect Dachshund, he was perfect for me and he made himself pretty hard to resist.

Bullet was above all the rules. He knew that he was special and therefore when I would tell all the dogs to go outside, he didn’t think that applied to him. He’d go, but only after I would specifically call him by name. The same would apply for going to his kennel. His spot was in my lap and all the other dogs knew it- just like my armpit in bed. He got to go places when the others didn’t. It was important for him to know that no matter how many dogs joined us, he didn’t have to worry.

Every month when our Barkbox subscription came, Bullet would get so excited and claim all of the toys. Squeakers were his frenemies and he saw it his duty to remove them. The squirrel toys that would come were his particular favorite and seemed to withstand his tortures the best. He could de-fuzz a tennis ball in the space of minutes.

Bullet loved to go for car rides. Every time he got to go with us, he would run to the tree in the driveway and “greet it” with a watering and then leap into the car. I would joke that he was worried the tree would fall without his care. And when we were in the car, he thought it a great game to roll all the car windows down. He was a wonderful traveling companion and every time we would come home, he’d wake from his spot in his basket as I turned off the highway completely aware by the angle of the car where we were. The same could be said for going to our property in Lake Mary Ronan. His perfect Dachshund senses always knew when we were coming home.  He’d already learned to recognize the sounds and angles of the turns and would wake from a sleep excited to be getting to our home away from home.

Coming home to my perfect Dachshund not being here still hasn’t gotten easier. Every time I’d open the front door and I wouldn’t hear his excitement at me being home to let him out of his kennel, another piece of my heart would break. My lap and my arms have been so empty. My husband used to say to me periodically when he was frustrated with packing up 8 (or more) dogs to go somewhere, “Why couldn’t you have just been happy with only Bullet?” And sometimes, when I was overwhelmed or when I was snuggling him close in bed after the others had gotten up, I would wonder the same thing. I realize now that it was because I needed the others to help distract me when I lost him. If I didn’t have 7 other dogs in my home right now, I’d be an even bigger mess. It takes the whole team of them to even begin to comfort me.

Of course I keep rehashing everything in my mind trying to figure out the coulda/woulda/shoulda’s. Every night he went to bed and the woke up drastically worse the next day. His neurological function was hugely impacted going from being able to stand on his back legs but not walk with them on the first day to not being able to lift his head a mere 5 days later. I should’ve insisted on blood work on Friday. Why did I even take him in? I could’ve lived with the leaking. If I would’ve never taken him in on Tuesday, maybe none of this would’ve happened. Several veterinarians and numerous people who have dealt with IVDD have made statements that his case was highly unusual. Many believe that there was something else at play as the severity of his initial injury wasn’t that bad. The vet that treated his IVDD thinks that he had a rare case of Canine Degenerative Myelopathy. Nobody saw a reason to think that this was going to go the way it did. But those reassurances don’t put him back in my arms. And in the meantime, I find myself questioning everything I did and everything I could have done.

It’s so easy to feel like I share this grief alone because he wasn’t just a perfect Dachshund, but he was also my baby. I know my youngest daughter misses him terribly but I see in her eyes her hurt for me more than her hurt for our having lost him. But I know that everybody who was a part of our pack feels his loss tremendously. My oldest daughter special ordered a customized Dachshund earn for his cremains as a gift for me. My husband mentioned one night that he spent all day thinking of him and picturing him “gophering” and he can’t believe he’s really gone. One of my oldest friends has been so supportive and helpful in my seeking to find answers as well as in her role in helping him rest in peace. Countless friends have sent messages and called to see how I am doing and to share in my heartache.

So while this entry is full of heartache and pain, I am going to focus on my perfect Dachshund’s perfections. I don’t know what doggy heaven looks like, but I choose to believe that it looks something like this: He will never be in pain again or get pancreatitis again. He will never run out of squeakers to distract from poor unsuspecting toys. He will never be told he can’t have people food because it’s bad for him. He will never have a tennis ball taken away from him. He will never feel the heartache of loss but will play happily until the day when I get to join him. He knew he was loved.

While I still vividly ache from the loss of Bullet, life has begun to move on. It took a week and a half of coaxing and rejections before Ammo moved into Bullet’s spot at night. I almost cried as hard having him there as I did from not having Bullet. It wasn’t about the fact that he wasn’t Bullet as much as it was the happiness I felt at having him come to me knowing that it’s his duty to be there for me now. Since then, Ammo comes to snuggle me closely at least for a part of the night. But living up to being a perfect Dachshund is a mighty tall order.  Together, we are making it through our grief. And Bullet, even though I can’t feel you the way I used to, I know you’ll always be here with me.


I have said more times than I can count that I dreaded the day I had to say goodbye to my Bullet.  By lunch time, Bullet was barely able to move his head.  Calls were made and a “Rainbow Bridge Vet” was contacted to come release Bullet from his suffering in the comfort of our home with the whole pack surrounding him.  That is not a job I’d ever want to have.

I was ready to let him go by the time the end came.  It hurt so much to see him locked inside his body with no ability to do more than move his eyes and occasionally turn towards me.  There is some speculation that there was something else going on to as he progressed so rapidly and so severely.  Letting him go was the easiest hard thing I’ve ever done.  I so believed there would be a miracle and I had time to work through my anger and frustration in my God who didn’t spare my little dog.  I don’t know why his time with me was so short.  I know I did everything I could to prevent this from happening and I did everything I could to fight it once it did.  I know that he has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and will shepherd any future pups that we may have that don’t make it.  I know that he will be free to chase mice and lift his leg on plastic bags and I know that one day he will be the first to greet me.  Letting go of Bullet isn’t easy, but saying goodbye to his suffering with IVDD is something that I can be grateful for.

Bullet was the best friend I ever could have asked for.  He loved unconditionally and was never selfish or held things against me- not even the arrival of another dog to live here.  I am so grateful for the time I had with him and the joy he brought into my life- not just in his being here but in showing me the amazingness of the Dachshund breed.  Rest in peace, beloved Bullet. I will see you again one day.

9/23/2015 – 9/8/2019


I woke up Friday morning a half an hour before my alarm was set to go off still crying from my sleep.  I got Bullet up, took him out and helped him go potty, and gave him his medications.  He hates his medications so much that in an attempt to keep his mouth closed, he accidentally bit down on my thumb almost hard enough to break the skin.  After winning that battle, I tried to get him to eat.  I had boiled chicken the night before and tried to feed him a small piece of it.  He not only refused it, but spat it out every time I would put it in his mouth.  I cooked some rice to mix with it and added Karo syrup and liver water to the mixture in an attempt to make sure his blood sugar didn’t crash.  He still refused food.  At that point, I gave him 2 cc of Karo syrup, subq’d him 20 cc of Lactated Ringers, and prepared to discuss my concerns with the vet at our appointment.  As I was preparing my father-in-law’s breakfast, Ammo (my other male) came in through the doggy door carrying the baggy of chicken for Bullet.  At some point, somebody had gotten it off of the table and he was bringing it back for his buddy!  It’s so important to me that I find things to smile about in the midst of all of this.

We traveled the 45 minutes to the vet and I was so relieved to see my vet tech friend of 30 years, Martha, there when I checked in.  She took my teary self into the back and we settled to wait for the vet.  At this point, I feel it very important to mention that it was the vet’s day off.  The regular person who does the acupuncture on that day was on vacation so she had scheduled herself to come in on her day off just to treat my Bullet.  I can’t say enough good things about the caring hearts that all of the people in my life have.

I brokenly cried my way through describing the decline of Bullet’s condition since his first treatment and expressed my concerns at his lack of eating and his dehydration.  The vet decided that the meds were probably doing more harm than good as they were upsetting his stomach and making him not want to eat- something that could not only cause a whole other slew of problems, but also trigger pancreatitis again.  They recommended to me that I buy some Gerber brand chicken and turkey and feed that to him and took him off of the Prednisone and the Tramadol and instead replaced it with Gabapentine and Cerenia and Famotidine for his stomach.  Plans to send a new bag of Lactated Ringers was also put into motion so that I could subq him the required amount for the next few days.  Then we began his treatment.  Today instead of just a regular acupuncture treatment, the vet opted for electroacupuncture instead.  After placing his needles, she attached electrodes that would send electric impulses through the needles to travel down his neuro-highway.  After getting the placements and the settings set, we noticed that Bullet’s toes began to twitch as did his tail!  She finished his appointment with the laser treatment and I asked a few more questions about his care including how often I needed to take him to potty.  (Answer: only twice a day even if he is getting the 200 cc of Lactated Ringers that she had prescribed as long as his gums were still tacky.)  She cautioned me that there are some new studies that CBD oil can lead to liver damage in canines so she suggested using half of the recommended dose instead.

On the way home, I stopped and bought a case of baby food (better to keep some on hand should I need it later!) and Bullet immediately ate a half of a jar.  I got him settled at home and he spent the entire day sleeping.  I woke him to potty, to get his electromagnetic therapy treatment at my mom’s, and to try to get him to eat some more (he didn’t) and put him to bed.  While I still fell asleep praying for a miracle, I did not cry myself to sleep.

He was more alert on Friday but was still refusing to eat until the evening.  I smeared some baby food on his gums to make him eat some, but by evening, I managed to convince him to lick it from my fingers until he’d eaten a half of a jar again.  He seemed to be more frustrated and confused with his inability to sit up well.  I noticed Friday evening that he was tending to fall over more than he seemed to try to move backwards instead of forwards.  I don’t expect recovery to happen all at once (though I certainly pray for that) as I know it can take time for the process to clean out the debris and start sending signals his body can understand again.  My other dogs are so confused why he seems broken.  Ammo is especially pouty and clingy. 

That brings me to this morning.  Bullet still sleeps at my side but is unable to move positions.  I snuggle him like nothing is wrong and fall asleep praying for him every night.  And every morning at his first movement, I wake up to see if he has recovered any.  This morning, he had a tiny little poop and I got him up and took him to potty and discovered he is unable to stand on his front legs at all.  I don’t know if it’s because of more neurological damage or if it’s because he is weak and depressed.  I only know that my heart hurts so much and I feel so alone as I hold him and cry.  I have already contacted my vet team.  We are able to start the Rimadyl today and we have decided that we’re going to try the wheelchair sooner rather than later as he is the alpha male and perhaps his depression is causing the most damage of all.  But I am not encouraged.  I don’t think he’s going to be able to support himself in it.  Where the first day I was so grateful when he finally seemed able to relax, today I would give anything to see him sit up stiffly. I’m afraid that we’re just holding on until tomorrow when he can be released from his suffering.

I breed miniature Dachshunds so of course I am familiar with IVDD (intervertebral disk disease- more commonly referred to as Dachshund disk disease).  I know what types of things can lead to it and what types of things to do to help prevent it.  I know that it can be genetic that is most often caused by injury.  I know that it is a horrible condition and that dogs can even recover from it.  But until IVDD affected one of my dogs, I was in no way prepared.

I did everything the way you’re supposed to.  I had ramps at beds and the couch- not stairs, RAMPS.  Because even stairs can tweak that extra disk and cause injury.  I fed scientifically formulated dog food made specifically for my Dachshunds to improve their back health.  I lifted with support under their bottoms.  But I can’t stop a dog from being a dog any more than you can stop a sunset from ending a day.  Bullet still sat pretty when he wanted picked up.  He still leaped off the couch beside the ramp when he was in a big hurry.  He still jumped in and out of a vehicle before I could lift and set him.  And sure enough, Wednesday, September 4, 2019, a mere 19 days before his 4th birthday, Bullet lost the use of his back legs due to IVDD.

But before I get into our journey with dachshund disk disease, I want to give a little background leading up to his diagnosis.  Bullet was neutered on November 25, 2018.  I chose to neuter him because I have dapple females in my home that were going to be coming of age for their heat cycles, and I didn’t want to take a chance of an accidental breeding of double dapple.  As a bonus, this meant I only had one unaltered male living in my home and if there ever were any accidents, I’d know who the father was.  I took Bullet in to the spay and neuter clinic and the very next day I noticed that he walked funnier than any neutered male I’d ever seen.  He walked with his right back leg as if there was something pulling on it hurting him.  At first, we thought it was just a stitch stitched too tight.  It got better, and we assumed we had been correct in thinking so.  A few months later, the hitch was back and we thought it was from scar tissue pulling.  I massaged it regularly, and again, it improved.  By the end of February his leg was acting up again, but additionally, he wasn’t eating well, was leaking urine, and on February 24, he vomited blood.  I took him in to see the vet and he tested positive for a UTI as well as pancreatitis.  He was treated and the leg went back to normal use.  In August he started leaking urine again and wasn’t eating well and I suspected a flair up like February and immediately took him in to the vet again.  He tested positive for pancreatitis and a UTI again and was treated and put on a low-fat diet.  With the change in food, Bullet seemed to be feeling better than he ever had and had more of an appetite than I’d ever seen him have!  But by the end of August, he was leaking urine again.  I immediately made him another vet appointment and on September 3, I took him in.  He tested negative for a UTI, showed no signs of kidney problems, and pancreatitis wasn’t a concern as he was not only still eating well, but was in great spirits.  My concern was the leaking urine and the leg that he was favoring.  The vet then said that it was possible there was something pinching a nerve that was causing it as well as potentially causing the leaking and we would keep an eye on things.  He prescribed a medication to help tighten his sphincter and we went home.  Our day concluded as usual and we went to bed.  My husband came home from traveling at 1:30 in the morning and Bullet woke up and ran to greet him.  When he came back to bed, he ran up the ramp and stopped and just sat at the top of it.  My husband picked him up and put him on the bed where he then came to me and curled up to sleep.  The next morning, I woke up and as I got up called Bullet to join me.  Bullet wouldn’t move but instead just sat there and looked at me.  I went to get him and noticed he was dragging his legs.  I immediately picked him up and took him outside.  He was able to stand on his legs if I put them under him but was unable to make them move.  I took him to my mom’s house for a treatment on her pulse electromagnetic therapy machine.  As soon as 9:00 AM arrived, I was on the phone to the vet.  They asked me to drop him off to get x-rays around his schedule so I sent him with my oldest daughter who had the day off.  At 10:20 the call came that would change my life. 

The vet and I discussed the pros and cons of surgery and he told me that if that was something I wanted to do, we would need to travel to Great Falls or Washington State in order to get the surgery.  He cautioned that there were no guarantees that it would fix anything and with it would come separate risks.  Additionally, even if it did fix the problem, he cautioned me that this could be something that could reoccur with a different disk.  He started him on a treatment of Prednisone, Tramadol, and Methocarbamol and an appointment was set up to see him the following Monday for a follow-up.  I immediately started making phone calls and managed to get a 12:30 appointment for him to go to a different vet clinic for acupuncture and a laser treatment.  During that first appointment, Bullet would attempt to pull his feet away when they would pinch between his toes or when the needles were being inserted.  The vet answered all my questions about moving forward including his ability to urinate and defecate and what I should and shouldn’t do.  We discussed the possibility of surgery again, where she cautioned not only the same cautions my regular vet had cautioned, but that additionally, there would be significant recovery time needed to recover muscle strength from the surgery as well as the surgical procedure.  She recommended a harness and showed me how to give him rehab and therapy to keep his muscles from atrophying.

After his treatment, he ate some chicken and we went to the chiropractor where, after viewing Bullet’s xrays, he was treated using the Toftness technique.  I special ordered a “Help ‘Em Up” harness for him from and had it shipped overnight.  On the way home, he started crying from the backseat with his “I need to potty cry” and I pulled over to let him relieve himself.  I had to squeeze his bladder to help him empty it as the vet had taught me.  I was very encouraged because he was still feeling sensation if he was feeling that he needed to potty.  I took him to my mom’s house for another treatment and after a long day, he finally was able to relax and get some needed sleep.

Thursday morning began with helping Bullet urinate.  I immediately noticed that he was no longer able to put weight on his legs and in fact, seemed much worse.  He ate a little bit for breakfast, and after his medication regime, his harness arrived.  I fitted him for it and we gave it a trial run and he happily walked a little bit with me helping support his back legs.  I put him in his small pen and began preparations for our family dinner night.  At the end of the day, Bullet refused to eat and was no longer wanting to drink water.  He did defecate just as the vet had stated he would be able to, but he had no awareness of what was happening.  The smell from it was unlike anything I’ve ever smelled and I wish someone had prepared me for that.  It was the most heart-breaking thing I’ve experienced.  I gave him a bath of which he, again, felt nothing, and we went to bed where I cried myself to sleep while praying for him.

Bullet was the first Dachshund I ever owned.  I wanted one for more than 15 years before I finally got him.  He was what made me fall in love with the breed.  He is my most beloved.  He spends every night sleeping in my armpit with his little face tucked up next to me or curled in a ball at my belly if he needs a change of position.  Every time I’ve brought a new puppy into our home, Bullet, though butt-hurt, has known that he was still my beloved and that he didn’t have anything to worry about.  My unaltered male adores Bullet and throws himself at Bullet’s feet belly up where Bullet will growl and act tough then lick him and they’ll run off to play together.  It breaks my heart so much to see him suffer like this.  I am so afraid that I am being selfish and adding to his suffering because I don’t want to lose him.  I am afraid that his personality will be so changed that he’ll never be happy again.  It breaks my heart to think that he may never wag his tail again.  I know that I can’t give up on him.  I know that he deserves a chance to fight and overcome this.  I know that MANY Dachshunds have overcome this and though they may never run completely unaffected, have a quality of life that is above and beyond what one would ever think.  I have hope.  But I have fears.  And I have so much heartache.  I have decided that I’m going to document this journey with Dachshund disk disease because while we all may or may not be aware of the devastation of IVDD, there is so many things that give it a face and that help others to know that they are not alone and what they can expect should they choose to make this journey.