This past June, Lady Bug participated in the Los Alamitos Race Course, the largest Wiener Nationals race in the country. That’s a big win for a Doxie (aka “wiener dog”) who suffered from dog paralysis just a couple of years ago.
How It All Started
Lady Bug was given up to a pet rescue shelter on New Year’s Eve of 2014 in Riverside, California. Very little is known about her past, except that she was about 4-5 years old. “I do know that she was surrendered by her previous owners on New Year’s Eve because she was paralyzed,” says Dr. Deanna O’Neill, DVM, who eventually adopted Lady Bug. “What actually caused her paralysis is unknown, but Dachshunds are prone to intervertebral disc disease due to their long bodies. Their dog paralysis can come on suddenly or can slowly progress over time.”
Lady Bug’s chances at the shelter were very poor until 4 months later, when LA Dachshund pet rescue pulled her and reached out to California Animal Rehabilitation. Dr. O’Neill did the initial intake and evaluation, and so begins one of the most heartwarming animal stories you’ll hear.
Rehabilitation and Changes
When she arrived at the clinic, Lady Bug would drag her back legs around when trying to walk. “Because she was dragging her hind limbs, she also had wounds that needed to be cared for,” Dr. O’Neill says.
There was a ray of hope, though. When Dr. O’Neill first examined Lady Bug, she realized although the dog was able to move her back legs, she didn’t have the strength or coordination to walk. “I knew that if I worked on strengthening her hind limbs and core, she would have a chance at using her legs again,” Dr. O’Neill says. “I could tell she was motivated, as each day she seemed to make progress.”
And although Lady Bug was nervous and unsure of her new surroundings at first, the caring staff gave her the motivation and assurance she needed to start her rigorous rehabilitation process.
The dog paralysis recovery process itself was very intense. “She lived at California Animal Rehabilitation for 3 months, where she received daily physical therapy and acupuncture, and once her wounds healed, she used the underwater treadmill,” explains Dr. O’Neill. “Within a week she started to stand on her own, and within a month she could take a couple steps on her own. Once we were able to get her into the underwater treadmill, her coordination and balance started to improve, and she was on the road to a successful recovery!”
A New Life
Lady Bug has changed a lot in the last 3 years. She and Dr. O’Neill formed an unbreakable bond during the rehabilitation process, and Dr. O’Neill ended up adopting her. “She has been a welcome and celebrated addition to our family,” says Dr. O’Neill. “She can go on short walks, run after tennis balls and chase the occasional squirrel that dares to venture into our yard.”
No matter where Dr. O’Neill is in the house, Lady Bug is never too far behind. “The shy dog I first met was transformed into a confident Weiner Nationals’ contestant,” says Dr. O’Neill. “I am thankful every day that our paths crossed.”
Speaking of Races
When Dr. O’Neill found out about the race, she just knew that Lady Bug had to be part of it. “I enrolled her because I had attended the 2016 Weiner Nationals competition and thought, ‘Lady Bug can do this!’” says Dr. O’Neill. “There was no doubt in my mind that I would be entering her the following year.”
Dr. O’Neill was absolutely thrilled when she received the news that her entry had been accepted and that she would be competing in the 2017 Weiner Nationals. “Lady Bug was able to finish the race with many, many fans cheering her on,” Dr. O’Neill says. “She may not be the fastest Weiner in the West, but my hope is that her success story will be heard by others, and hopefully help other dogs find their legs through animal rehabilitation.”
Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and adventurer who has written for National Geographic, DiscoveryChannel.com, Yahoo! and Marie Claire. Diana has lived in five countries and taken her rescued dogs along to each one of them.