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Draplin Design Co., North America
December 28, 2009
Happy Birthday, Garold
Posted at 10:30 AM


Little Gary turned five today. Half a decade. He’s back in Portland staying with my little sister and Jacob. In good hands. Going on a daily “carry” with them. More on that in a second.

The image above is a Paint-By-Number masterpiece that Dad found for me in his travels. Spittin’ image of the little man! Good find, pops.

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AS GOOD A TIME AS ANY: Over the last four years, you guys have sent in a million links regarding dachshund novelties, pictures and general well-wishing for the G-Unit. We thank you for your love, humor and support for the little man. I sure as hell appreciate it.

With some sadness, I wanted to update all of you on the current status of Gary.

Back in September, at the tail end of my summer Michigan visit, Gary had an accident.

Mom, Dad, Leigh and I went into town to eat one last supper in Traverse City. When we came back out to the compound, the usual “greeting of the dogs” where the little shits run out to greet you in the driveway was missing one little man. We found Gary at the door, whimpering, unable to move.

We did a quick check of his vitals, thinking it must’ve been something he ate. He wouldn’t move, and seemed to be in pain, craning his neck up toward the ceiling slowly, oddly, and unable to lay down. We got him comfortable and waited it out that night.

The next morning we ran him over to a local veterinarian who did a couple quick tests on him, touching his legs, pushing here and there and looked at us and said, “He’s exhibiting the classic signs of a ruptured spinal disc.” She did an x-ray and that confirmed her diagnosis.

Just like that. The whole game changed.

The little man rutpured a disc in his back, and it was cutting off the electricity to his back legs. In one word, he was “paralyzed.”


Common in dachshunds, and other long dog breeds like Corgis, it turned out he had fused vertebrae and his little spine just kind gave out. The doc told us it was very common, and could happen in dachshunds anywhere from a year old to late, late old age. And, it could happen under moments of wild activity, violent spinal compression or, while simply sleeping.

Basically, his number came up, and it kills me to write these words.

A day after the injury, he had no movement in his back legs. He couldn’t walk, and was in pain. We spent a couple more nights in Michigan, making calls to downstate surgeons, Gary’s vets back in Portland and read countless spinal injury accounts on the web.

We made the tough call to hightail it back to Portland. I had to get back for goddamn projects, Leigh was wrapping up her summer job, so we had a caravan racing west. What a hellride. Gary seemed to be comfortable, but couldn’t control any “nature” processes.

Once back in Portland, I got him in front of a doggy neurologist who administered a couple electrical tests to check his spinal activity, determining whether or not he would need surgery, or, be a candidate. Sometimes, they can fix these back injuries, and a couple months later, the dog would be back at it.

Not the case with Gary. His rupture was pretty bad, and rather final, and the doc told us the surgery would be a long, long shot, and only recommended if he was in bad pain. He seemed to be okay for the most part, and after a couple more tests, our directions were to keep him motionless as much as possible, clean and loved for the next couple months. And to hope for the best.

Back injuries in dachshunds are a common thing. You know, that length! There’s all sorts of online support groups with tips, tales and tails regarding dachshund spinal injuries. The doc told us it was a manageable change, and if we were up to it, and could adapt to the new challenges, he could live a long life, albeit being paralyzed.

Once healed, he’d adapt and begin scooting himself with his front legs. Then once he settled into the scooting thing, we could take him to get fitted for a little dachshund wheelchair cart. Then he could take walks, propelling himself with two legs and two wheels.

And he’s done just that. He zips around the house as fast as he can. It’s just about the saddest fuckin’ thing you ever saw, but the happiest thing too. He’s adapting and I’m thankful as hell for that.

The roughest part about the new Gary is the challenges with nature. He can’t really control when nature calls, so you have to monitor him closely, and manually eliminate his bladder. He’s like a little piss gun, kind of.

The tootsie rolls come when they come, and we’re getting better and better with the “No. 2 Department” regarding the little man.

Let’s just say we’re like a little cleanup army, with wipes and spray bottles and a revolving cast of towels and doggie beds to keep the little man clean, fresh and as Gary’d as ever. Special thanks to Leigh for being a goddamned, decorated 4-Star General in the War Against His Little Rear End.

Paralyzed? Nah. More like, “Garalyzed.”

Hell, he doesn’t even know it. He’s rolled himself down the stairs once, been caught on laptop cords, and folds his little legs underneath him every which way.

This is “Gary 2.0” and we’re gonna do our best to keep his little quality of life just as it was before the injury.

He’s still long, He’s still loud. He still hates visitors when they show up, and still love them ferociously three minutes later. He’s still Gary, but just a little less mobile.

He’s still ferociously cute, and sure, might smell like a New York City subway if you catch him on a bad day, but hell, a quick doggie bath remedies that one, and so it goes.

He’s cute as fuck all wrapped up in a towel. Facts are stubborn things.

My sister Leah sent a picture of the little man all wrapped up in a blanket, on a “carry” with her and Jacob and their dog Obie, in their little Sellwood neighborhood. They carry him on Obie’s walk, and lower him to sniff each bush and tree trunk along the way. He seems to be fine with it. This is the new Gary.

Happy Birthday, Gare Bear. We got yer back, no pun intended. Whatever it takes, whatever it takes.

There Are 32 Comments

This really moved me. Very awesome of you to share this story.

Posted by: Lloyd Winter on 12/28/09 at 4:25 PM

Good for you. Our dog Abby has been careening around in her all-terrain cart for three years now. She still gets out every day and is just as crazy as she was before her back end gave out.

If you ever get around to designing some “Don’t feel sorry for my goddamned dog” cards to hand out I’ll be first in line.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and 2010 is a great year.

Posted by: Ian Patton on 12/28/09 at 4:41 PM

Happy Birthday to the Garold! And Jen and I are super happy that he’s in his “cart” and running around like he doesn’t have one. We’ve seen them aplenty and the dogs never look like they care. We hope that’s the case with Mr. G-Draplin.

Posted by: Naz Hamid on 12/28/09 at 4:41 PM

You sir are spectacular. I’ve been heavily browsing the Draplin, Field Notes websites this evening and have really enjoyed all the Gary-related material.

And then! I refresh and here is a heart-warming post on Gary from you.

I can tell you don’t half-ass anything, from your design ( which I am soon am to be purchasing some Field Notes and your Draplin change containment device), to your life, and to taking care of Gary.

I love dogs and I have a miniature pinscher named Pixl, and a pomeranian named Lion-O and would definitely take care of them as much as you if something like this were to compromise their health.

Thanks for being real.

Happy Birthday to Gary and Happy New Year!

Posted by: Kyle on 12/28/09 at 5:13 PM

Happy birthday, Gary. I didn’t realize you and I shared a birthday.


Posted by: Cris on 12/28/09 at 5:38 PM

So sad and so happy at the same time. I’ve been following you and Gary for a couple of years now, you’ve given me many things to ponder and enjoy (I’m a fellow graphic designer, I live in Chicago). Here’s hoping the best for Gary. Hang in there all of you.

Posted by: deborah on 12/28/09 at 5:49 PM

happy birthday gary! what a tough lil soldier! we just got a lil dachsie ourselves. silvi-10 weeks old and raisin hell! we couldn’t love her more. any words of wisdom you can offer to new parents would be greatly appreciated. silvi is a force to be reckoned with! i’m sure she’d love to meet gary. take good care and have a very happy new year!

Posted by: andria on 12/28/09 at 5:59 PM

gary is an freekin icon… figuratively i mean, not getting cute w/ desingy words… tough post boss.

Posted by: jfox on 12/28/09 at 6:04 PM

Dang, I feel for the man.

Soldier on, G-unit. You’ve got a good crew keeping you healthy, that’s for sure.

Posted by: Reilly Brennan on 12/28/09 at 6:54 PM

Few things are tougher than a sick pet. Hang in there guys. Stay strong little man.

Posted by: jon on 12/28/09 at 7:24 PM

As usual. Nothing stops team Draplin.
Happy Birthday Gary and truly all the best in
the New Year from Minneapolis. Cheers, jon baugh

Posted by: realgood® on 12/28/09 at 8:35 PM

Happy Birthday Gary.

Willie woulda loved to know ya and Louise is dyin’ to meet ya. Keep yer head up and live a long, long life.

Dano and T and weezy.

Posted by: dano on 12/28/09 at 8:55 PM

Damn, that’s too bad. There is nothing in this world sadder than a sick dog. Glad to hear the little guy is on the move again. Keep on rollin’ Gary!

Posted by: Eric on 12/28/09 at 9:18 PM

Good on ya Gary! Way to stick with it and keep givin’er hell. Hats off to ya.

Posted by: Huckleberry Hart on 12/28/09 at 11:02 PM

My late Dachshund, Timmy, only had 3 legs (Tripod Timmy), but he didn’t give a shit. Dachshunds are ALL heart …he just needs a loving home and he sure is lucky to have the DDC family on his side.

Posted by: chris d. on 12/28/09 at 11:10 PM

Long live Gary! Happy Birthday lil fella. Hope you got the birthday card I sent a while back, before I was unsure of the actual day!

Posted by: Greg Lang on 12/29/09 at 6:33 AM

Good luck Gary. Happy B Day.

Posted by: Brent on 12/29/09 at 7:14 AM

Happy birthday, Gary! We’re all in your corner.

Posted by: Joseph Hughes on 12/29/09 at 10:26 AM

Sad news, Draplin. Good to know he’s in good hands, though. Best of luck.

Posted by: Gregory Hubacek on 12/29/09 at 12:01 PM

Happy Bday Gary. You are a good man, sir. It must be hard and frustrating at times but I am sure he appreciates all you do for him.

Posted by: Jeff R on 12/29/09 at 12:21 PM

Goddamn sorry to hear about Gary, but glad to know he’s in good, lovin’ hands. Same thing happened to one of my brother’s wieners a couple of years ago, pretty much the same situation, and the dog has done just fine and even gotten some mobility back. Stay strong Gary Draplin.

Posted by: Andy on 12/29/09 at 12:36 PM

Gary - Hell on wheels!

I look forward to seeing a new logo (perhaps Ed Roth-inspired?) showing Gary’s bitchin’ two-wheeled look!

Touching story - all the best for the future.

Posted by: Chris Murphy on 12/29/09 at 2:12 PM

Sad news brother. Stay tough.

Posted by: chad on 12/29/09 at 10:55 PM

Happy Birthday to the famous little guy. Real sorry to hear about his injury, but I hope you guys had a good Christmas and have a great New Year.

Posted by: Greg Meehan on 12/30/09 at 5:48 AM

Sorry bout ur luck Gary. Keep on scootin’.

Posted by: KO on 12/30/09 at 6:28 AM

gary was struck down and scared
big d patched him up
life is plenty fine on wheels

Posted by: Lane Fujita on 12/30/09 at 8:24 AM

Thanks for sharing the news Aaron. Makes one pause, look around and reassess what’s important.

Posted by: Paul on 12/30/09 at 9:27 AM

Better late than freakin’ never, I suppose, as I couldn’t let this moment pass by without commenting.

Haven’t met the little guy, but as many fine folks above have said, I feel like I know Big Gare from your caring documentation of his existence on these pages. That said, I’m touched deeply to hear that he’s getting by in his cart, off-roadin’, etc. A few years back we rescued a rabbit (Rabbi T.) from the street that endured an amputation for a severely broken back leg. He was, even only on three legs, a beacon of happiness and a totally furry inspiration to all who came in contact. Whenever I see or hear of animals in situations of compromised mobility give a shrug and scoot, wheel, or hop on by, it pulls my heart strings to say the least.

Long life to Gary, godspeed to yourself. He’s lucky to have such a caring pal.

Posted by: Joseph X. Burke on 12/30/09 at 12:11 PM

Poor Gary, Im sorry that this happened…I’ve been through the same sort of thing with my daschund. He didn’t have a wheelchair, but he couldn’t move for a good month…month and a half once. Slowly but surely however, he returned to his ol’ self. Here’s hoping Gary does the same. Good luck and hang in there.

Posted by: Brian Nelson on 12/30/09 at 7:20 PM

damn near broke my heart. Lost my dog earlier this year after 15 long years together. hadn’t thought much about it until this post. Clean up duty is always best done for the little pests you love most. Cheers to Gary.

Posted by: todd on 12/30/09 at 7:25 PM

I’m sory to read of the pooches troubles, tough business that. Gary is lucky to have a human(s) as giving, and loving as he apparently is. And as tenacious and devoted. If this occurs to a lot of doxies, and other breeds, then I agree with Ian (above), the resulting design could be awesome. Good on you for sticking with the lad, and belated birthday wishes to the mahogany torpedo. Cheers.

Posted by: John Swanson on 12/31/09 at 8:49 AM

This is very moving. It almost made me cry but at the same time its just so wonderful how you guys handled the change.

I was visiting your site and its nice to read this story.

Thank you.
Rest in peace Gary.

Posted by: Pierre Reymond on 01/13/15 at 6:53 AM
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