4-28-04  Improvement about every 6 weeks

We haven't ever been able to notice improvement daily here, or even weekly actually. Monthly, sort of. Er, maybe in 6 week increments. :)

4-28-04  Pool shopping

I was in the supermarket today and stopped in my tracks because they already had swimming pools for sale! They had everything from an 8' diameter 18" deep pool for $12.99, up to a 15' diameter 42" deep pool for $188.00 (that included a filter, ladder, and pool cover)! I'm pretty sure the supermarket isn't the cheapest place to buy something like that. I don't think it will take a real big pool to have room to swim. It's a little early yet. My dog is cold-natured and I want the water to be warm.

5-2-04 Attacking the disabled

During the past 6 months I have gone through an entire thing of pepper spray and several sets of nerves due to being charged by other dogs while walking my disabled dog.

5-5-04  Four ways of walking

My little friend has developed 4 ways of walking. The first is very clever--I call it her Possum Walk. She invented it about 2 weeks ago. She knows if she stands all the way up and takes steps she loses her balance, yet she also knows she can move her feet perfectly well. She developed a way to waddle along with her bottom only 1 to 2 inches off the ground, taking steps like a human child doing the duck walk. With her head down, ears back, and tail trailing behind, she looks just like a little opossum. The second is what I call the Table Legs Walk. Again, she knows if she stands all the way up and takes steps she loses her balance, yet she can stand all the way up perfectly well before falling over. So she stands up with her back legs straight and well apart (knees locked I think) and takes steps with her front feet simply pulling her back legs along like a person dragging a table across the room. She may be on her toes or her pads. The third is Table Legs With Skating. She stands all the way up with her back legs straight and begins dragging her back legs as in the Table Legs Walk, only she may move one or the other foot a time or two by skating it forward so the pads never leave the ground. This way she does not lose her balance. The fourth way is close to real walking. I don't have a name for it. It involves going very fast so the momentum helps her keep her balance enough to take steps as she goes. She'd be able to do it better if there was someplace she could practice that was bigger than a 15' living room. By the time she gets up and going, she runs out of room to run. This is where we're at at 7 1/2 months.

5-18-04  Scissoring

My dog is learning to walk from a spinal fracture. Her pelvis is usually leaning at an angle and she does not stay up long--5 seconds would be good. Her legs cross a lot and she falls over. She goes to hydrotherapy where her legs also cross in the water, especially when the level is low. I do not think there *is* a way to teach a dog not to cross, because the therapist says to just let her keep trying to walk in the water and learn how to uncross. If the therapist had a method I think she would use it. My dog's therapist used to get in the water with her and she would place her hand between my dog's hocks to prevent them from crossing over. At first she placed her hand the wide way, palm down. Later she placed her hand vertical making only a small separation. Then she quit and let my dog try to keep them apart herself.

I am planning to get a swimming pool and put the water at around my dog's elbow level and let her practice walking in it when it gets a little warmer. It's getting into the high 80's here, but not for long enough to heat pool water I don't think.

5-19-04  Two scarf walks a day with carry-exercises

It is our pride that she has gotten two walks every day since Thanksgiving when she became able, one 20 min and the other 60 min, No Slack. Except for the one and only time we could not because they decided to have a freaking drug bust at the house diagonal across the street and we could not get past our front door, and that time we lost 25 min of our walk.

Baby sweatsuit and winter neck scarfI was doing flexibility exercise, stimulating her toes, and weight-bearing exercise with her twice a day without fail, rain or shine. We even did it when it was so cold I had to take my winter muffler and wrap it round her half a dozen times to keep her warm. She wore a fleece cape, and over that a baby sweatsuit left open at the bottom.  Then I wrapped her walking scarf around her for extra warmth.  I put my right hand up inside the sweats to support her chest, then used my left hand to exercise her hind feet.  The sweatsuit was long enough that we stayed reasonably warm and could do our carry exercises even in bitter cold. I found shopping centers with covered walkways where we could walk in rainy weather, and sometimes we did our scarf walking and carry exercise in PetsMart.

5-21-04  She did something neat today

She was on the front lawn. We have one of those driveways that is 2 strips of pavement with grass down the middle. She was dragging around on the lawn a little bit. Then she decided she wanted to go to the grass in the middle of the driveway. She stood up, walked across the strip of pavement with several neatly placed steps, then sank back down onto her hip when she got in the grassy middle. She didn't want to scrape her toes. That's my girl!!

6-?-04±  Pool therapy

I tried to do hydrotherapy with her in the bathtub but she totally panicked and it wasn't worth frightening her that much. I tried to do it in a kiddy swimming pool which she didn't mind because she could see out, but we have a bee problem in this area and the water attracted bees, so we couldn't do that either.

6-16-04  Marking another occasion

After a long month of being in season, two and a half weeks of a UTI, and then being treated for tapeworms, I'm glad to say my small friend is feeling more like herself. Today we went for hydrotherapy and she did her usual 42 minutes on the water treadmill with really good steps. Then when she got out and was dried off, she walked/ran from the front of the clinic through the hydrotherapy room, through the door into the back office, and all the way to the back of the back office. It was at least 15 feet in the hydrotherapy room and another 8-10 feet through the office. Then she did almost that well a second time. We were like, Wow!

6-21-04  Almost 9 months

My dog's physical therapist also said to stimulate her feet as much as possible. It builds proprioception, the ability to know where her feet are in space and what they are feeling and what they are doing. I am still doing the Tickle Toes exercise where I dig my fingers into her paw pads and she kicks.  My dog has continued to make improvement and more improvement. We are now almost 9 months after her injury, and last week she ran approximately 25 feet following her physical therapy session. She still isn't walking more than a few steps at home, though.

6-25-04  The day she began really walking

[Note: the following are five descriptions of the day she first became aware she might be able to walk. It is hard to convey exactly what happened, but it was an epiphany, and we both knew there had been a change. Something connected. She had previously taken steps in the house, the treadmill, the PT room, and several steps crossing the driveway one time. This was different and I definitely feel this marks the point at which she became a walker.]

6-25-04  (First description)

On June 25th she first walked outside. It was a big hurdle for her. She'd done it indoors but never out. She went about 5 feet, then sat, then I coaxed her up and she went about another 4 or 5 feet and sat. That was 9 months and 2 days after her accident.

6-25-04  (Second description)

Even though she was regaining the neurological ability to walk, and was being trained on the treadmill, it did not occur to her that she could get around outside, she had been down so long. I could see the bewildered look on her face when she walked for 4 feet down a slope and sat for the first time. "Wait a minute, what just happened?"

6-25-04  (Third description)

[Note: refers to a video of a paralyzed dog in a lake] I watched the video yesterday and loved it, but could not put into words exactly what I was thinking. I saw him so clearly, in the water, then coming up the bank, the effort in his legs, the accomplishment, the total focus, and most of all, the sense of...something between confusion and bewilderment that it was happening. "Wait, this is suddenly within my grasp, I'm doing this, why can I do it now when I couldn't for months." It's like it's partly a third person experience for him. That is the part I can't describe, but the same thing happened with my dog. When she first walked after 9 months, no one was more surprised than she was.

6-25-04  (Fourth description)

Her accident was Sept 23, 2003, and she first stood up and walked 4 feet outdoors the end of June 2004, so about 9 months. That was a great day, because that was the day she overcame the learned non-use. It was the first time she realized she could, indeed, use her legs.

6-25-04  (Fifth description)

It took my dog 9 months to walk a distance of 4 feet on the sidewalk. When she finally did it, I still do not know who was more surprised, her or me. We had continued physical therapy every day faithfully even though I had long ago given up any hope that she would walk. We were still just doing it because it was quality time for us and it was good for her.

6-30-04  Slopes

Sloping sidewalk in front of school

My dog can stand, but it is easier for her to stand if she is sitting on a slope so her rear is sitting on the uphill end of the slope and her front feet are on the downhill end. That way her rear is already partly elevated so she has less distance to get up. She also likes to walk down slopes. There are some good slopes at a shopping center near here. I exercise her on the flat pavement, and set her down and let her stand and walk down the slopes.

Our big breakthrough outdoors came one day when we'd been out for a walk and I set her down on a gently sloping sidewalk. When she took a step forward she discovered the slope made it easy for her to take that next step. She went about 4 feet and sat, then did another 4 feet that day.

6-30-04  About hydrotherapy

Now my dog walks by herself on the water treadmill for 42 minutes every session and gets crossed but uncrosses herself. She stands briefly, and walks short distances, and has run across the room several times.  IF MY DOG WAS NOT IN HYDROTHERAPY she would have LITTLE MUSCLE TONE and not much RETRAINING OF HER MOVEMENTS.

7-1-04±  We found a beef jerky

When she was just barely beginning to walk, we went to the shopping center and I was carrying her for exercises. One of those long round beef jerkys was lying in the middle of the parking lot in front of the stores, where cars had been driving over it.  She headed for it and I let her sniff it, then I put her back at a distance of 6 or 8 feet and let her walk up to it again. We did this several times.  It was still there the next day, so we did it again. I let her walk toward it from 10 or 12 feet.  I watched for cars while we did this.  We visited that beef jerky for 4 or 5 days, as long as it was there.  She always remembered where it was and always wanted to go right to it and try to eat it and she would walk every time.  This was her first real walking that was not on a slope.

7-1-04  She loves hydrotherapy

My dog loves hydrotherapy. You should hear her when it's time to go to her appointment, and again when we pull into the parking lot at the clinic.

7-4-04  Expressing together

I sometimes feel my dog is helping me a little when I express her, but that has been a fairly recent development.

7-5-04  I'll Walk In the Rain By Your Side

Last night we were coming home after doing our exercise. She had just done her 30 minutes of back feet exercise, and we were coming across the foot bridge at the school. I set her down on the bridge and off she went! I had to take big steps to keep up with her. After about 10 or 12 feet she sat. It didn't look like she was going to have an easy time getting back up so I picked her up and set her on her feet again and off she went again! I was thinking, "I'm walking beside her! This is what it feels like to walk beside her! We're walking together!" She kind of looked up at me a couple of times and kept going and didn't sit till the end of the footbridge. On the way home in the car, I sang her John Denver's song, "For Baby (For Bobbie)". 

Footbridge at school