7-20-04  Hotel lobby

We traveled to Kansas the end of July and she walked every evening on the low pile carpet in the lobby of the hotel, and on the sloping driveways of the hotel next door. The hotel had a grand spacious lobby with low pile carpet and little padding. The owners had a dog they kept behind the desk, and they did not mind my dog walking around in their lobby. Finally, a carpeted area that was big enough for her to stay up and not run into a corner. Fascinating smells everywhere, she was so interested!

Hotel lobby

8-04  Incline therapy

I discovered she could "spinal walk" best going down slopes. I told her therapist about it, and after a therapy session we took her outside to a sloping sidewalk and the therapist saw how well she could do going downhill. We developed a routine where I would set her down at the top of the slope and the therapist would wait at the bottom with a treat, and she'd walk (run!) down to get her treat. We'd do that repeatedly till all the treats were gone. (We broke them into tiny pieces.) A couple of sessions later when they gave me her daily therapy report, I had to smile when it said she had done "Incline therapy". Oh, so that's what we'd been doing!

Dog spinal walking down slope to get treats

8-5-04  Physical therapy report

Katie had a great session today.  She did 30 min. at a speed of 1.7, she is definitely getting her confidence back.  Her afternoon session she did 15 min. at a speed of 1.7.  We also had her outside walking up and down the side walk, she did very well with that.  A lot more concentration, and more stability in her walking.  Please call us if you have any questions.

8-6-04  Hotels again and more progress

We went to Kansas again and she walked a lot in the various hotel rooms. The smells in hotel rooms are great motivation for a dog to stand up and sniff around. I had the door open to the hotel room one morning and she surprised me by walking out into the parking lot and up to two people and barking at them! She also walked out to the car when I had all the doors open loading/unloading, and stood with her nose on the level of the driver's side floor, and I could see the impulse go through her to jump in. She realized she couldn't, but I saw that impulse go through her twice, and I realized this is a little dog who used to jump in the car with her former family. That she's even thinking about it is wonderful. She also developed a new ability to carry her Milk Bone. Twice the Milk Bone disappeared and I found her around by the bed eating it (she made off with it secretly!), and the third time I watched her out of the corner of my eye and saw her doing it.

And when we had a little spare time during travel, I would take her out to see things. I mean, she got a kick out of checking out the parking lot, or one time we walked to a lake and saw a Putt Putt golf course. (I confess I took her to the Putt Putt while they were closed because I thought she might walk really well on their green "grass"--don't tell!) But nothing matched the thrill she got right in the hotel room smelling EVERYTHING. You have no appreciation of how many smells there are in a hotel room till you take a dog. It inspired her to do additional standing and walking at a time when she was just beginning to stand and take a few steps.

8-12-04  Physical therapy report

Katie has had a great PT session.  She did 30 minutes with lower water at a speed that increased to 2.0mph.  We then let her go outside and do incline exercises for a liver treat that was squashed in to pieces.  She did an awesome job.  Her afternoon session she did 30 minutes again at a speed of 2.0mph.  All in all she has done a fabulous job today.  Please call if you have any questions.

8-19-04  Physical therapy report

Katie did very well today in her physical therapy sessions.  She did 30 min. in her first pt session at a speed of 1.8.  following that she went outside where she did walking up and down the side walk, where she did great.  She's concentrating more on walking rather then running to a spot.  Her second session she did 30 min at the same speed with the same outside treatment.  Please call us if you have any questions.

9-8-04  First photos of walking

Dog spinal walking

Dog spinal walking

These photos were taken at PT.

In the first picture she had crossed and actually had her toe caught over her hock momentarily, I don't know if she went fully down or not, I wasn't there. She crosses a lot and gets stuck in the crossed position, but with time she learned to get unstuck by herself. I keep thinking of getting padded bloomers for her hind legs to eliminate "hock lock". In the second picture where she is throwing one leg up, I call that her little Lucky Charms leprechaun kick. Remember how he kicked up his heels in the commercial?

9-16-04  She walked in grass

We are still doing her front feet exercise with the scarf 30 minutes, and her back feet weight bearing exercise in my hand 30 minutes every day, with 10 and 10 on the lunch hour. During her back feet exercise, I set her down on any slopes, or if she has alerted on a smell, or if my arm is dying, and she walks a little. Now we are nearing the one year point. Yesterday she walked about 8 feet in sparse grass. Later she walked about the same distance on uneven asphalt. She also wanted to go from the sidewalk to the grass to sniff something and they had edged it deeply, and she actually did a hint of a jump over that little ditch, and again coming back to the sidewalk. That would be her first jump. :) At home she did the cutest thing ever. She was walking into the bedroom, and she wanted to rub her face and chin on the carpet, so she went from a standing position, to bending her front legs and putting her face on carpet, to going into a roll. I was so proud of her. It was a very complicated move.

She is still dragging about as often as walking in the house. I'm thinking of getting carpeting for the bathroom and kitchen. Will she get to where she can walk on those surfaces, or will they always be too slippery? Right now she can only walk in the livingroom-hallway-bedrooms. I'm sure she'd walk more if the whole house was open to her.

9-17-04  Improving more rapidly now

During those first months, recovery seemed slow and I could *maybe* think she was improving ever so slightly every 6 to 8 weeks if I really stretched my imagination. But since the 9-month point things have been advancing much more rapidly. She is doing some walking both in the house and outdoors, and continues to improve. I certainly didn't think it would take so long. :) I was thinking more in terms of two to four months when we started out, but here we are and I am so glad.

9-23-04  One year

I've had the exact same experience, looking at my dog one day and having it seem like she's not doing as well as she was, and then like you say, she goes and does something even better than before, and you smile and breathe a big sigh of relief. I've also noticed the business of one leg being stronger than the other, and when I commented on it to my dog's physical therapist she said, yes, often one leg is stronger, but then suddenly it can change so the other leg is dominant, and you don't know why.

About the crossing, I have decided the answer to that is, Let 'Em Cross. My dog gets crossed up every day trying to walk. Sometimes it makes her drag instead of walk. Then we fix it and keep going. When she's walking, she does dozens of almost-crosses every time. I see no problem with letting her do a little Foxtrot/Charleston dance step and wobble and sway as she goes from Point A to Point B, just as long as she gets there. Let her cross, I don't care! It doesn't seem to bother her. I think with time it will get better.

Yesterday she wanted to chase a yellow lab someone else was walking, and she went about 85 feet without getting crossed up. It's like she's become aware of the problem. She was actually putting her feet down rather wide apart--it was very cute and effective. [Note: this is the sidewalk where she chased the lab.]

Sidewalk at school where she chased the lab 85 feet

My dog's therapist says you can help the dog keep on his feet while walking by hold his tail. It bothered me to be holding my dog's hind end up by grabbing onto her tail, but it doesn't bother her, and she can go-go-go. Sometimes when she's a little more wobbly than usual, I will do that.

9-24-04  Surfaces

She can walk on cement but not linoleum (too slippery), and sparse grass but not thick grass (trips her up).

9-25-04  Chasing big dogs

The other day she took off after a yellow lab, but fortunately it had a big head start. Then Thursday the police were in our neighborhood again (they need to build a substation here) while I was walking her. They had a GSD police dog that was basically hauling the woman handler along after it on the way back to the van. I set my dog down by a sign post thinking she'd like to sniff where the police dog had been. Not so! She assumed a perfect stance like she'd been set up for show, her ears went forward, and I just caught her before she charged off the curb to go GET THAT DOG AND SHOW HIM A THING OR TWO! You never saw such focus and intensity. So that's two this week. I guess it's time to get her a collar, and I hesitate because she's just beginning to walk and the last thing I want to do is pull on a leash and make her lose her balance. But that's not true, because the very last thing I want to do is let her be taken apart by another dog. She already has a row of suture marks across her shoulders which the back surgeon thought might be from being shaken by a big dog in the past.

On the happier side, Sept. 23rd was our one-year anniversary of the day I found her. At Hallmark they had little silver heart-shaped charms for $2.98, and I got her one with her name on it. It will be perfect for her collar when I get one. Note to self: go look at collars.

9-27-04  Collar

Bought lightweight nylon collar. Came home after work, put new collar on dog, wrapped toes, went for scarf walk. Walked 2 houses, took collar off, dog is so distracted by collar cannot scarf walk properly so surely won't be able to reflex walk with it. Need collar to attach leash to to keep 7-lb. dog from running after big dogs and beating them up. Decided to pick up dog around big dogs for now. After exercise came home, put collar back on, practiced eating roast beef wearing collar. Then practiced chewing rawhide wearing collar. Now practicing napping wearing collar.

9-30-04  Distance walked

This year, I would estimate we have scarf-walked between 500 and 1000 miles. It's hard to gauge with all the stopping to sniff and hairpin turns.

10-16-04  Low Grade Compound Adenocarcinoma

[Note: she had a small mammary tumor that had to be removed, and after that they recommended spay surgery to prevent recurrence of the mammary cancer.]

At our PT appt last Tuesday I asked the therapist to show my dog to one of the surgeons if she could. There was a growth on the very tip of one of her nip*l*s. Was told it needed to be removed. Wednesday she had surgery with a local. When they gave her back to me, the whole n was gone as well as the tissue (gland?) under it, and she had 4 staples. It is the second set of n from the rear, so it is in the way when I try to lift her or football-carry her, but is not interfering with expressing if carefully done. She does not seem to feel it or be aware of it. It is rearwards from her spinal fusion and I don't think there is much feeling there. She can still walk as well as she could before. I cancelled her hydrotherapy for a week at least. Today when I was at the vet for something else (another message) he said, "Please tell me this dog is spayed." She isn't. He is really recommending it. My concern is that she will have internal bleeding when I express her. He says this will not happen. His concern is it will hurt, but I don't really think so. I guess with those two concerns set aside, I am just concerned about the affects of anaesthesia as far as her walking. Her age is unknown, but this type of cancer usually shows at age 10-11. I am also concerned that they may do something to her walking, not that I can afford to let this be an issue. The vet is giving us a referral to the oncologist who treated my cat a few years ago. We will see if there are any other options. I'm hoping she's OK for now. This is the lab report:

The submitted tissue contains a very superficially located and minimally invasive low-grade compound adenocarcinoma that is likely arising from mammary tissue and was completely excised. There is a good probability that complete excision will be curative since these tumors have a relatively low potential for regional lymph node metastasis.

She is her usual self. We can't scarf walk because of where the incision is, so we have been doing carry-walks with set-downs. I really *would* like it if she could be spayed, because she got a UTI both times she's been in season. I will ask if the surgeon (specialist) who did her back can do the spay. They don't do spays, but this is a special case. Since she is mainly a reflex walker, he might know more about how not to mess up the pathways she needs to still reflex walk.

10-16-04  Worried how spay surgery will affect her walking

I don't know if I can describe this, but I'll try. When I express her, you know where I would be squeezing. Sometimes her bladder is easy to find. Sometimes her bladder has retreated and is hidden up in the pelvis, and in order to express her I have to fish it down, which is like trying to pull a hardboiled egg out of the sound hole of a guitar through the strings. There is a ***wilderness*** of strong ligaments or something in there, and he's going to have to mess with them. I think they are at least partly suspensory ligaments holding the uterus in place. I totally don't know. Maybe I should try to look it up instead of guessing and assuming. But the point I'm trying to get around to is that when I express her, she has a reflex to bend her knees in mid-air like she's riding a little Harley. I assume it is a squatting reflex. Then, after I express her and set her down, she walks ***better and stronger*** than at any other time. She was taking a few steps following being expressed before she was doing anything else. So somehow--I don't know how--all of that is tied together. Something about squeezing her in that area makes her legs work better.

11-12-04  After spay surgery

At 10:30 this morning, about 48 hours after her spay surgery, she was up and walking, following me from room to room as I did chores. She also hopped down to the sunporch level (a 6" drop) 3 times and asked to be brought back up 3 times. This surgery has not hurt her ability to do reflex walking, thanks be.

11-04  Partially expressed herself

The middle of 11/04 she partially expressed herself twice--I was so proud of her.

11-18-04  Worth the wait

She is walking again and is continuing to improve even though it has been 14 months since her injury. There is a lot of waiting in this. My dog had a spinal fusion and then we did exercise and physical therapy, but yet she seemed to remain much the same for many months before we started seeing real improvement. It was worth the wait!

11-28-04  Grinning from ear to ear

It is 15 months and 5 days after her injury, and today my dog walked to a water bowl and drank water standing up for the first time. :))))))
Correction, 14 months and 5 days

12-1-04  Handstands

One of the biggest problems with trying to help her learn to walk again was that she wouldn't use her hind legs at all because she was such a little acrobat, she would rely on her front legs. Sometimes when she is trying to stand on 4 feet, she will rely on her front feet too much and her little rear will rise up off the ground till she is almost in a handstand, and then she usually loses her balance and sits down hard but she doesn't let it bother her.

12-7-04  Balance   

When we are out walking she will sometimes drag through the grass, and if she is standing she may lose her balance and sit suddenly.

12-10-04  Hopping in the treadmill

The physical therapist and I don't know what it means, but she said my dog was doing something different yesterday in the treadmill. She would walk, then she would do a couple of hops while it was still going, then she would continue walking with good balance. :)

Last week she made it over the speed bump in the parking lot without her knees buckling. We had been working on that speed bump for two weeks. She fell on the first try, but was very determined on the second try and walked over it with strong steps. Yay!