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Story of the Month - August 2004    



On the evening of Monday, January 26, 2004, our 3-1/2 year old miniature dachshund, Alfie, began limping and acting out of sorts. We thought he may have pulled a leg muscle, as he likes to chase the cat through the house. When he awoke Tuesday morning, he was screaming in pain when he tried to move and was dragging his rear legs, with his back arched and quivering in pain. We immediately called our vet, who told us to bring him right in. After 2 days of steroid treatment and crate rest, with little to no improvement, she recommended a referral to vet surgeons who specialize in this surgery. We drove the 1-1/2 hours to have him admitted through the Vet E.R. where he was evaluated for admission, placed on pain meds and nothing by mouth, in case the surgeon opted for surgery the next day.

After a very restless night's sleep, we heard from the surgeon the next morning, who said Alfie had no deep pain sensation, but was in severe pain. He recommended surgery, but gave Alfie a less than 25% chance of ever walking again. The myelogram confirmed that Alfie had ruptured a disc, with much inner disc material splattered onto his spinal cord. We opted for surgery, with little understanding of the recovery process, but loving our Alfie-boy so much, that we wanted to give him every chance we could possibly afford.

He was paralyzed and incontinent upon his return home on Friday, January 30, 1 day post-op. Even though we were very properly instructed as to his care, nothing could have prepared us for the huge difference in our loving, active young dog. He was on crate rest for 4-6 weeks, and he seemed quite happy to be in there. Just looking into his eyes you could see the confusion, pain and discontent he was suffering.

Twelve days after surgery, we returned to the surgeon's for his staple removal and an evaluation. The surgeon quite bluntly told us that Alfie would never walk again. He suggested a cart, but strongly recommended euthanizing our dear pup because it would be so difficult for our busy schedules to care for him properly, and paralyzed dogs suffer from so many health concerns - bed sores, Gastro-intestinal upsets, etc.

My husband drove the 1-1/2 hour trip home, while I cradled Alfie in my arms, sobbing into his neck, with lots of puppy kisses to comfort me. We just couldn't give up that easily. We decided to investigate acupuncture, even as difficult as it was to continue with the incontinence and drastic temperament change in our dog (he became quite snappish, biting us if he perceived any movement on our part that might bring him pain).

Alfie began acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatments (liquidambar & Jujube powder) on February 16, 2004, 2 weeks post op. That evening, after his first treatment, which he accepted with snarling, snapping and voicing his great disapproval of being touched in that way, Alfie curled into a ball for the first time since the night of his injury. After the second treatment, he began to voluntarily move his leg into a different position. We continued his physical therapy and hydrotherapy in the bath tub, as well as massaging his thighs & legs. By the end of February, Alfie could walk with the assistance of "tail-walking." By the beginning of March, he was stumbling along on his own in the grass, as he continued to gain strength. Inside, on the carpet, proved to be much more difficult, as the carpeting is a much smoother surface than the grass. By the end of March he was able to maneuver the carpeted floors inside, and by the ! end of April was "running." He doesn't exactly run the way he used to, but he can really get somewhere fast by "bunny hopping" and other awkward running movements - but the point is that he is up on all four feet 90% or more of the time. By the end of May, Alfie was able to manage the linoleum floor of our kitchen.

Alfie's mood has been one of our biggest obstacles. As a dog he cannot reason, but he certainly knew that things were different and between the confusion and frustration of that, coupled with the pain he was experiencing, he was quite a "little alligator." Acupuncture & the Chinese herbs have not only helped his mobility, but also his mood and playfulness. We have our old puppy back, even though his mobility is not 100%. Alfie may never physically be the same dog as he was, but at 5 months post-op, we believe that his healing process is not complete. Everything we have read, spoken with our vet-acupuncturist and the wonderful support of Dodgers, we have every reason to believe that it takes at least a year for full recovery of an injury of the severity that Alfie suffered. We hope and pray he continues to improve and without a doubt we continue to love him madly.

Please give your dog every chance that you can, and even though there will be people who scoff at acupuncture, read Alfie's story and all of the success stories posted here to see that it has tremendous healing properties. It is our hope that Alfie's story gives you hope.

Dodgerslist would like to thank Dr.Tricia Mucci in LaTrobe, PA for helping Alfie recover.
- submitted by Michelle Wobrak



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