Meet Sombras, an 8 year old poodle mix from Oakland, CA. Sombras was diagnosed with IVDD in December of 2018 after a ruptured disc left him paralyzed in his hind legs. His emotional story is like many I’ve heard. Not one, but two vets told his loving owner, Claudia, that they only had two options: expensive surgery, or euthanasia. Luckily, Claudia followed her heart and her gut feeling that there must be more options out there for her beloved dog. Thank goodness she did, because they found a vet who was informed of the options for IVDD. This new vet gave them hope and knew that “disability doesn’t equal euthanasia!”
Stories like these are why we do what we do here at The Dog’s Down. It is so important to spread awareness of this disease, and the different treatment options that exist for it. As well as showing people that they too can care for a disabled dog. This is the story of Sombras, as written by his loving and dedicated owner, Claudia.
Sombras’ IVDD Success Story
Sombras is an 8 year old poodle mix who was diagnosed with IVDD in December 2018, only 6 months ago. Before becoming fully paralyzed in his back legs, he had one prior episode that landed him in the ER. Vets conducted blood tests, x-rays, and ultrasounds only to find nothing wrong with him that they could place, apart from dehydration and severe pain. For two months after that he went back to being the silly, playful, lover of life that he is. We thought we had gotten through the roughest part of the year.
On December 4th I found him in severe pain. Within 20 minutes of coming home, as we got ready to take him to the ER, he had lost function of his two back legs. My family told me he was probably fine and I was being dramatic, but something in my gut told me something was horribly wrong. As I drove to the emergency clinic I somehow knew to grieve a part of him I lost that night.
A heartbreaking trip to the emergency vet clinic…
After they took him in, they returned empty handed and informed me that Sombras was paralyzed and would never walk again. They said there were two options: sign him up for $13,000 surgery, or put him down. I sobbed in the doctor’s office for almost an hour. I was torn between the reality that I didn’t have that much money to give, but that my dog’s life was priceless. Somehow I found the courage to fight through the information they were giving me and demanded more options, or just more time to say goodbye. I took him home, and the physical state he was in was the most painful part of the whole experience.
An even more disheartening trip to their vet…
The next day I had to take Sombras to my regular vet, where I was verbally shamed by my veterinarian to put down my dog because his life was basically over. As I kept asking for more options, for different avenues of survival that were possible for him, she shut me down and told me I was selfish for considering keeping him alive. I walked out of that appointment in tears, and transferred vets, hoping that the guilt I felt for letting Sombras feel so much pain was going to be worth it one day.
A new vet, and new hope for Sombras…
After switching vets, I told myself, this was it. If the vet says the same thing, then maybe I am being selfish. Maybe there isn’t another way for him. I felt grateful for getting to say goodbye at the very least. However, the new vet validated all my gut feelings that I was trying so hard to follow against all odds. 1) Yes, he was in pain. A lot of it. But on the spectrum of pain, it’s manageable and if I was considering putting him down due to pain, don’t do it. 2) Crate rest is an option if money is an obstacle. 3) Disability doesn’t equal euthanasia!
For the first time since Sombras stopped walking, I was hopeful. This was one of the hardest weeks of my life. It really does feel like the world is ending. I started to understand my capacity for love and commitment when it came to my baby Sombras. He was worth it! If he was fighting for his life, I would fight harder.
A new life with a very happy, disabled dog…
Now, 6 months after paralysis in his back legs, he’s finally off of his pain medication. He really is such a happy dog and I know he knows and understands just how loved he is by everyone around him. His Eddie’s Wheels help him get at the cuties on his block and he wears diapers due to incontinence. The biggest issue has been getting his weight down after his 6 week crate rest. The biggest learning lesson has been that consistency is key. Be consistent with how you interact with your dog, and slowly you get results.
Spreading awareness of IVDD…
Awareness of IVDD is so important because sometimes it can be the one thing that separates you from the noise of what you hear from certain vets who are ignorant to the other options that are out there. It’s been hard taking care of a disabled dog when you come from a low-income household. And in Latino culture, spending this much time, commitment, and money on a dog is frowned upon. But I feel like everyone who ever doubted that this was the right decision for Sombras has changed their mind. They look at him with admiration because he teaches us everyday a little something about not being afraid of the world ending. It usually doesn’t.
Would you like to share your IVDD success story with us and be featured as a Disabled Dog of the Month? We encourage you to contact us through our contact page, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share your story!