As the pawrent of a canine amputee, you’re probably familiar with the phrase “the first two weeks are hell.” That’s the standard warning that Tripawd pawrents use when describing post-amputation recovery, not to scare people but to prepare them.
But what if something happened and your dog needed your devoted help for two months? Or six? What if one day, you came home and your Tripawd couldn’t walk for no reason?
It’s a horrible scenario to ponder, but the fact is, it can and does happen. Oftentimes, paralysis can be the result of anything ranging from a pinched nerve, to spinal tumors, to blood clots in the spine.
Author Judy Wolff went through this heart wrenching experience, as she watched her eight year-old Lab Tucker go from a state of perfect health to incapacitation, in just one day! Their harrowing journey through diagnosis, rehabilitation and recovery is covered in her book, “My Dog Has Fallen and He Can’t Get Up! Rehabilitation from a Spinal Injury with Paralyis.”
One day, Tucker simply couldn’t walk. He showed no signs of pain, but simply couldn’t get up. Here’s a video on Tucker’s YouTube channel, taken soon after the injury:
After an emergency trip to the specialty vet center, Judy learned that Tucker had a blood clot in his spine. While he was under anesthesia from a MRI, she had to decide if she would pursue a complicated surgery that may or may not result in a better recovery than rehabilitation therapy alone.
Doctors gave Tucker a relatively good prognosis. Because she knew her dog better than anyone else, and understood that Tucker was not a good patient, Judy decided to take a wait-and-see approach while diving into rehab.
Over the next several months, she would learn more than she ever wanted to about “FCEs” (fibrocartilaginious embolisms), assistive devices like boots and slings, cavaletti poles and water treadmills, and how to be comfortable while sleeping on the floor with Tucker.
A Leap of Faith
Until recently, most dogs with Tucker’s condition would have been euthanized. But with the advances in canine rehabilitation, dogs with FCEs now have a good chance at recovery. Still, while most people would have given up, Judy didn’t. She completely rearranged her life to be there for a beloved dog who temporarily needed her for everything from going potty to getting into the car.
During this journey, Judy created several worksheets and reminders about what exercises to do at home and when, and even learned how to use a Clicker tool to promote coordination between Tucker’s brain and his limbs. Her book includes details about how she kept herself organized and Tucker’s training productive.
Here is Tucker, today, 21 months after rehab:
My Dog Has Fallen is more than a book about how Judy helped him recuperate from a FCE. It’s a touching story that will resonate with all Tripawd pawrents who have chosen to devote their lives to being there for their dog who asks so little in return.
Even if you’ve already been through Tripawd “recovery hell,” there’s a lot you can learn in Judy’s book. Keeping in mind that’s she’s not a rehab therapist or a vet, you’ll simply appreciate the fact that Judy is just like you and me, a regular pawrent who took a courageous leap of faith to try to give her best friend a good quality of life.
If she could do it, anyone can!