Monday, July 12, 2010

Acupuncture for Dogs

One of Sam's other rehab therapies is acupuncture. He gets weekly treatments with his vet Dr. Janice Crook at Mosquito Creek Veterinary Clinic.

We first discovered the effectiveness of acupuncture with our Sheltie Max. Max had developed arthritis that got so bad by the time he was about 7 years old that he could barely get himself up. Our vet at the time putting him on anti-inflammatory drugs but because he had already been showing abnormal liver readings for , we were reluctant to put him on it because of the potential for liver and kidney damage.

We went to Dr. Crook and began acupuncture treatments to see if it would help. Hopeful, but not entirely convinced that we would see any improvement we arranged for a series of 6 treatments as a trial. We knew that at least there wouldn't be any adverse side effects.

To our great relief and amazement, after 3 or 4 sessions, Max exhibited much greater mobility and decrease in discomfort. Needless to say, we continued the treatments, weekly at first and then less frequently once his condition had stabilized. He regained mobility and could walk and run and chase our other dog around the yard again. Even after sustaining a knee injury a few years later, Max remained healthy and mobile well into his 13th year and passed away at age 15.

Sam has great heart and surprises us daily with what he can do even with his current limitation. Along with nutritional support, passive physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and his regular visits to his chiropractic vet, Dr. Jewell, acupuncture is also giving his body the best chance to heal.

For information about acupuncture for dogs:

Out and About

At an agility fun match on July 11, 2010.

Sam was so happy to be out and about, visiting friends, getting lots of attention in his snazzy wheels.

He misses going to his regular training classes. His favourite was Train and Play.

We thought it would be a good idea to have a special agility event for dogs in wheelchairs, dogs that can't jump or with other physical challenges -- like the Paralympics for dogs!! What do you think?

Friday, July 9, 2010


It was another day at the pool for Sam on Friday. Going swimming regularly is part of Sam's therapy to support him in regaining the use of his hind legs. For us and Sam, that means a weekly date at Aqua Paws Hydrotherapy. Today it seemed that his tail was getting more active in the water. And he may be able to bend his knees under water as well.

Since the surgery, Sam has very little muscle tone in his rear legs. If he does regain feeling in the legs, he would not be able to move them much or support himself because of the muscle weakness. Being able to float in the warm water of the pool is beneficial in many ways. It allows him to be supported in a weightless environment. It promotes the use of the legs with less effort. It allows him to relax his other muscles.

For the benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs

Aqua Paws Hydrotherapy Inc.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Curious to Know....

Weather for Vancouver, BC, Canada
27°C | °F
Current: Sunny
Wind: NW at 16 km/h
Humidity: 45%
Thu 31°C | 18°C
Fri 29°C | 17°C
Sat 24°C | 16°C
Sun 23°C | 15°C

HOT. HOT. HOT. Well, summer has finally hit big time here. It's been sunny and hot this week but looks like today will be close to, if not a record breaker with a high of 31 C (that's 87 F)! So the portable air conditioners have been running in the family room and the bedroom to try to keep things cool for the dogs in a couple of rooms even though the rest of the house gets really warm and stuffy (we're south facing and the bright people who built the house only made one small window that opens in the front living room -- >> no air movement !!!)

The other dogs get their walk at the neighbourhood park about 6:30 am when it's still nice and cool and then come back and have their breakfast. Sam gets his walk after breakfast (about 8:00 am) and it is a little warmer for sure. There are a few shady places at the park but for the most part it is quite open and sunny. Sam gets to walk without the other dogs right now because he likes to take his time. He gets strapped into his wheelchair and away he goes.
Being part spaniel, Sam has lived a big part of his 5 1/2 years with his nose on the ground. And being in the wheelchair is no different. He wants to check everything out and is in no great hurry to do so. Other times he takes a break to check out the view or watch the birds.
"Birds??? Where?? What do I miss more? Chasing the birds and sometimes those ducks that sit in the grass? -- don't worry. I'm on leash and only get to go a few feet before I have to stop. OR scratching my ears--- AHHH"
The other thing about walking Sam now is how many people stop to look at him in the wheelchair. He is a curiosity. Many people just look. But many ask questions:
  • What happened to him? (ruptured disc and spinal surgery... aside from that don't know how or why it happened )
  • How long will it take to walk again (don't know, it varies for every dog... but Sam is definitely motivated)
  • Did you make the cart? ( gosh no... thank goodness see Eddie's Wheels)
As for Sam, he just takes it all in stride. We can honestly say that, aside from not being able to use his hind legs, he's pretty much his old self again ... strong willed (read: stubborn at times), fiercely independent, great appetite for for food and for life, and pretty happy. He's not worried about what he can't do. If he wants to do something, he tries. If it works, great. He'll keep doing it. If it doesn't work, oh well, let's try something else. I'd say there is a life lesson in there somewhere. Thanks Sam.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


We fully expect Sam to regain most, if not all, of his mobility in time. But in the meantime, he is assisted in getting around with his wheelchair from Eddie's Wheels.

Six Weeks After Surgery

Six Weeks After Spinal Surgery

July 3, 2010

Veterinary Acupuncture Day

Sam was in for his weekly acupuncture session with Dr. Crook. She remarked on how perky he seemed and how his personality was more evident. Physically, Dr Crook noted how strong Sam's tail was as he tucked it it tightly under his body. She also noted that Sam seemed to be more aware when she touched his hind end. In addition, there was some indication of improved sensation / resistance in the left leg, although no direct movement yet.

July 4, 2010

Hydrotherapy Swim session # 4

Waiting for our hydrotherapy appointment, we took Sam out for a walk in the grass for a few minutes with a towel supporting his back end. He wanted to race around and sniff as much as he could. We were at the fence surrounding a neighborhood community garden and Sam watched three people working in their gardens and was so interested in exploring his patch of grass, he didn't even notice the cat lazing in the garden.

Sam's friend Kiernan had his swim before us and Sam was excited to greet K and his Mom Rita and friend Mary when they came out.

Both Rita and Jacqueline, Sam's therapist, remarked on how more engaged he seemed.

In the pool room, Sam was animated and eager to explore and look around. He stood patiently while his life vest was fastened and was okay while Jacqueline carried him in to the water. Sam was much more relaxed in the pool today. He settled in the water much quicker and he swam a couple of laps at a time with a floating rest in between for about 4 or 5 circuits. He didn't have the need to come out of the pool during his session. He was content to rest in the pool between swims. While he was swimming only with his front legs, it seemed that he was starting to control the upper part of his tail and hold the tail up a little higher in the water while swimming.

He then had 3 or 4 resistance swims with Jacqueline holding him stationary while he tried to paddle away to see if he would engage more of his back end to try to move against the resistance.

Jacqueline said his tail was starting to slowly move side to side as his rudder. She also felt that Sam was starting to bend his knees a bit and felt him bend them up against her arm when he rested after the resistance swims rather than hanging limply in the water.

All and all a good workout for Sam in a non weight bearing environment and some very positive signs of improvement.

Relaxing at home after a good swim.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Just the beginning of the journey...

... with one paddle and one step at a time.

Sam is a very determined little guy. He is not giving up and neither are we.

Here he is swimming for the second time in his life on June 28, 2010 with his "swim coach" Jacqueline at Aqua Paws Hydrotherapy Inc. He still doesn't have use of his hind legs but he's got a wicked tail whip and he is keeping strong in his front legs with his swimming and running around with his "wheels"