I had an emergency call for help from Marley’s Mum. Marley is a 13 year old Staffie who suddenly lost all use of her rear left leg. Her vet suggested suspected neurological trauma as there was no proprioception or superficial pain reflex although deep pain reflex was present. They advised that the issue was likely disc or spinal disease and it was unlikely that Marley would regain use of that leg. They advised physical therapy to maintain tone in the muscles of the left rear leg and keep the remaining legs strong.
We managed to see Marley the next day as it was clear that both her and her Mum needed help as soon as possible. Her Mum needed some hope.
Marley was determined. Oh, so determined. She was not going to give in. She managed to get herself into the therapy room with her three working legs which had quickly adapted to keep her moving. She reminded me so much of our Sarah who never accepted her limited abilities. She still wanted to enjoy her life and wasn’t going to let wobbly legs get in the way. Dogs have a strength and grit that is simply awesome. No wonder the term “dogged” is used for tenacity and persistence.
Marley’s left rear leg muscles were already showing signs of softness while her other limb muscles resembled those of a weight training athlete. Everything needed help, but in different ways. Left rear leg needed pumping massage and stimulation, while front and right rear leg muscles needed help to make sure they didn’t overexert themselves and tighten up restricting movement further.
Her mid back was also tight, understandably.
Marley had brought along her two human sisters to help their Mum with the therapy routine.
By the end of the session, which Marley thoroughly enjoyed, she was moving even more fluidly. I sent through a personalised workbook of what to massage, why and ways to ensure the left rear leg is kept stimulated while she is not using it herself
The next day her Mum wrote “I wanted to give you an update on Marley. She is weight bearing on the leg and is showing signs of using the muscle in the upper leg……The improvement this morning after seeing you last night is phenomenal (I am secretly hopeful and believe she may use the leg again). Marley is definitely the strongest dog I have ever met and her strength shows me how it can be done… mind over matter. Oh and I tickled her toes earlier and she spread her paw!. You and your partner are amazing people and extremely kind. I will keep you updated. DAY 3 and look how far she has come”
The following day an additional text “I was doing her massage this morning and she curled her bad paw round my hand”
And a week later…“Marley saw the vet yesterday, the vet is confident that she will regain full function!! She told us that you can see the work we have done for her and that is because of your immediate help. Thank you for supporting me through this process. It really was true team work. Thanks for passing that knowledge and seeing what I see in her”
Now that was the feedback we wanted to read. With hope from the carer, determination from the dog with some empowerment and knowledge sharing from us, team work has helped Marley to recover and maintain some mobility.