Winny was born to Roxy, along with her two brothers, in December 2012. I had always hoped that Roxy would have a girl as I intended to keep her, so when Winny arrived we were over the moon.
When Winny was 4 weeks old we realised that there was something wrong with her as she wasn't developing, physically, at that same rate as her brothers - she hadn't learned to walk and we had no idea why. The vets couldn't shed any light, nor could anyone I asked within the breed. After advice from a rehabilitation centre, we employed a Physiotherapist who came to see Winny three times per week, and by 8 weeks she had learned how to walk in her own way. Winny visited the specialists at Willows in Solihull, initially at just 6 weeks old, but on numerous occasions over the following two months. Eventually at 16 weeks she had an MRI and it was then that we discovered that she had been born with a birth defect. A number of vertebrae within the Thoracic area of her spine were deformed, which in turn caused compression of her spinal cord and an accumulation of fluid within it, hence her delayed walking and awkward gait. The Orthopaedic and Neurology specialists at Willows had never seen another dog like Winny before, she was a totally unique case and therefore no one had any idea of what lay ahead for her.
Winny was the most amazing puppy. Healthy and thriving from the outset, calm and content by nature. Even though disabled, from 5 weeks she would pull herself around the puppy pen, which we lined with bath mats to help her gain purchase, to play with her brothers, have a sip from her water bowl or head to her puppy pad- she never ceased to amaze us.
It was also at around this time, in the early weeks, that I set up a group on Facebook called Winny Mini, mainly for friends and family to follow her journey. Within a few short weeks, Winny had over 4000 people following her story from all over the world. Each day I would share stories and post photo's, everyone loved to hear how she was getting on, and each day she grew stronger and stronger.
Having spent so much time together from when she arrived, Winny and I had an exceptionally strong bond. Totally commited to her care, I never left her side as I was aware of her limitations and therefore her safety, and likewise she never left mine. Sadly on the 15th May, when Winny was 19 weeks and 3 days old, she became sick with no forewarning - she died in my arms the following morning. We were, and still are, absolutely devastated by her passing.
In Winnys memory I chose to help raise funds for groundbreaking IVDD research that the Dachshund Breed Council and Animal Health Trust are to embark upon within the future. I set up a Fundrazr campaign in June 2013 and within 6 months we raised £11,800, all thanks to 'Winny' friends and followers. The fund closed on 29th December 2013, which would have been Winnys first birthday.
There will never be another Winny, and a day doesn't pass where I don't think of her and how blessed we were to have had her in our lives, even if it was just for a short time. She was a unique miracle and is missed so dearly by us all.