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My Dog Has Fallen and He Can’t Get Up!

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.

The good news is, most dogs will be up on their own and doing much better after two weeks, and you’ll both be back to living a “new normal” life again.

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.”

Tucker’s Story

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!

6 thoughts on “My Dog Has Fallen and He Can’t Get Up!”

  1. Nice story, thanks for sharing!

    I too understand what it is like to have a dog with paralysis. We had a daschund Poggie (pronounced Podgie) who only at the age of 5 slipped a disc in her spine and had permanent paralysis. The vet said she probably had a birth defect that was just waiting to happen because it can occur in long bodied/short legged dogs like daschunds (going up/down stairs didn’t help). In her case we did have to put her down because she had lost the capacity to even go (not even incontinence).

    Glad to hear that there are other ways to beat other types of paralysis!!

    -Chloe’s mom

  2. My Great Dane also suffered from this. The cartilage actually caused a stroke in her spinal cord (FCEM). I wish I had known about this book and Tucker’s story while Abbey and I were fighting our way through her recovery. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anytime Mandy. It’s really a shock to find out how many dogs have actually experienced this situation, but good to know that it is possible to overcome it.

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