On June 30, 2003, Pogo, my five year old miniature dachshund went down after playing his favorite game of fetch. The next day, two of his ruptured discs were repaired surgically. He had no deep pain going into and coming out of his surgery. For almost the next two months he was completely paralyzed in his hind legs with no deep pain response. For a dog who lived to run, jump, and play fetch, his situation seemed very bleak, yet he still appeared content with his life to me.
Upon his release from the hospital after a one week stay, Pogo has undergone an intensive rehabilitation regimen as follows: 1) within two weeks of his operation, he began swimming therapy on a daily basis which involved Pogo walking with his front legs in a kiddie pool playing fetch. For the first seven weeks, his hind legs would just drag on the bottom of the pool. The hydrotherapy was increased from 20 minutes a day to more than a total of one and one-half hours every single day (two or three sessions a day); 2) "bicycling" and massaging exercises several times a day; 3) towel and tail walking so his hind quarters would be supported as his front legs did the walking; 4) electronic acupuncture twice a week for two months, then weekly for another month, and then monthly thereafter; 5) vitamins and supplements: Vit B complex; Vit C with ester; Vit E with selenium; dismutase (wheat sprouts); herbal pills prescribed by his vet/acupunc; glucasamine and chondroitin; and arthramine.
By the sixth week, with no discernible improvement, I ordered Pogo's cart from Eddie's and arranged to hire a dog sitter/caretaker to help me with his long-term care. By the seventh week, I noticed that Pogo's hind legs were moving in his kiddie pool. By the eighth week, Pogo took his first steps on dry land.
At the present time, we are now almost fourteen weeks after Pogo's injury and surgery. Pogo is walking well almost all of the time. He does not need the cart at all and does not need any other assistance to walk. He still only has some deep pain response. Pogo also has decent control over his bodily functions which also continues to improve over time. On a weekly basis, he is showing significant improvement in his ability to walk. He is now able to be walked on a leash with his brother Grady. Life is returning to normal again.
I believe the lesson that Pogo can relay to others, especially the newer members, is this: with intensive (and obsessive) long-term rehabilitation over many weeks and months, even the most severely injured dog, like Pogo, may regain the ability to walk. The first month is very difficult. The second month less so but still hard. By the third month, a routine is established which makes the process easier.
By the way, I should note that throughout this long process, including when he was completely paralyzed, Pogo was very happy with his life and definitely had a life worth living. It was also the only life he would ever have here. It was a life that had to be protected. Though for a somewhat lengthy period of time, my entire social life has been devoted to my baby, it has been worth it. This little 12 pound dog has become an inspiration to me and to others with regard to overcoming obstacles and disabilities. Pogo's injury was the biggest tragedy of our lives. His rehabilitation has been the greatest event that we have ever experienced.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking my mother, Anita Signorelli, who helped me care for Pogo when I had to work. She literally devoted her life during the last three months to caring for him in her home when I was unavailable. I will never forget her selfless devotion to Pogo. I would also like to thank the members of Dodgerslist for educating and inspiring me throughout the rehabilitation process.
- submitted by Richard Signorelli