First of all her back is holding out fine for the time being. I had a friend from work live here while we were away and a stay at home mom friend of my daughters who used to be a vet tech come by every day and take her out for a short walk.
We carry her down stairs and my husband has built a ramp off the kitchen door onto the deck and she loves to be out there. Hopefully if we are careful we can avoid any more disc issues for a good while.
Her journey has been remarkable.
When we first acquired Daisy a year ago in May she was only 11 pounds (she is at a healthy weight now at 16.5). It felt like the vertebrae in her back were going to cut through the skin. She had tapeworms, ear mites, and teeth that were black from a bad diet. A vet we saw then put her age at 7-8 because of the condition she was in. Current vet puts her at 3-4. She had never been outside of a cage, her feet were soft like baby's skin, her personality was totally flat. If she was given a bowl of food she ate it and threw up. She peed in her bed and just lay in it, no one had ever taken her out of her cage. Her back issues are certain genetic, they are not exactly rocket scientists who run puppy mills. Her sight in one eye is poor, vet says likely due to trauma, a blow to the head. At the shelter she was the dog they put in with all the wild noisy ones because she was so expressionless she would just lay there. If you showed her a ball or a toy she just looked at it.
The workers at the shelter I volunteered with did not recommend we take her. Most of the puppy mill dogs were so traumatized they could not even walk. I read material on dog development and it said that by 4 months the door on dog emotional development closes then and they would never be able to connect with anyone, be broken forever. If you touched her she flinched, if a man came near her she cowered. She never barked.
But we brought her home.
We have only had purebred dogs before and we had to adjust our expectations. It took a long time to find food her damaged intestines could tolerate. We had to be careful not to overwhelm her, even patting her scared her.
But over time, on a quiet and consistent routine she changed. A big turning point was taking care of my son's marvellous Border Collie, Birdie. Whatever he did, she did. After a few months she was completely potty trained, barked at the mailman, and started to run after balls. She got spunky and playful. She would go and get a ball and play games with it herself, rolling it around and pouncing on it. When I took her to an off leash park she ran like her heart was going to explode with joy, that's what it felt like. She got cocky with other dogs. Once when a big dog went after the Birdie (who is a chicken) she went right after the dog and chased it away, swaggering all the way home.
She waits for us at the front door whenever we go out, I am sure she would wait forever, she sat there the whole we we were away for the wedding apparently.
She goes up to my husband and knocks his hand if she wants a pat. She slams around her bowl for food. She tears around this house at top speed and horses around with the leash when we go for a walk. Other dog walkers say to me "that's a feisty little one you've got there."
We have learned so much from Daisy.
We have learned you can't ever let anyone tell you, you are so far down you can't get up. Particularly yourself. No one else can ever know what you are made of, and it might just turn out you are made of a lot.
But most of all we have learned how important faith is. Somehow, based on no evidence in her life, I really feel something in Daisy believed there was a reason to hang on. If that dog doesn't have a soul I don't know who does.
It really has been a privilege to be her family.