A day in the life of a special (aka paralyzed) dog, as told by Duke

Duke asleep Okay, I’m awake. There are Mama’s feet right next to me…and her head back there – yup, she’s still sleeping. But it’s gotta be morning. I’m hungry, let’s go downstairs. I’ll just jump off the bed even though the alarm didn’t go off yet – maybe she feels like getting up early today. Here I go – PLOP… scoot scoot. Oh that damn baby gate again! Mama! There you are! Ready to eat breakf….ohh, you’re picking me up to go back in the bed. Alright, I’ll sleep again until you’re ready.

10 minutes later: Okay, I’m awake. There are Mama’s feet right next to me and the alarm hasn’t gone off yet. She’s gotta want to get up by now! PLOP. Let’s go! You move the baby gate, Mama, and I’ll skate down the stairs no problem. Hey she’s going for it! Yay breakfast!

Mama Mama foooddd!! Thump Thump Thump… flew down the steps – who needs working back legs for that? I will be a patient boy while you fill Molly and Theo’s bowl’s first, they are just little, I’m a big boy, I can wait…oohh fooooddd!! Good stuff.

Now she’s putting that padded black necklace on me again – outside time. So that must be the front harness, and I’ll patiently wait for her to click me into the rest of my pretty blue wheelchair. Up go my rear legs into the back slings. Despite my back legs being paralyzed, they move a lot when I’m in my Walkin’ Wheels  http://www.handicappedpets.com/adjustable-dog-wheelchairs.html A lot of people get excited when they see this, hoping it means a sign of healing, but really they are just common involuntary spasms http://www.christopherreeve.org/site/c.mtKZKgMWKwG/b.4453419/k.3757/Spasticity.htm

snowydukeI’m all strapped in! I’ll race to the door just in case she forgets that we’re headed outside. She clicks on my leash and yay we’re out the door. Unless I’m fenced in, with no other dogs around, Mama never lets me go off-leash. I had a tough time when I was a stray fending for myself for 18 months. I had to fight for food a lot, and other dogs and animals – even the tiny ones – make me very anxious now. If a random dog comes running up to me I will likely react quickly out of fear. So Mama likes to keep me close on a leash (and follow the law!)

Mmmmm fresh air. Love it. Mama will let me sniff the grass and trees for a few minutes, but then it’s time to express my bladder. I stand very still as she presses around my bladder for it to empty, since I can’t “water the fire hydrant” on my own. We do this at least twice a day. It doesn’t hurt, I just feel some pressure back there. We keep me as empty as possible as to avoid urinary tract infections (so far, so good!). I don’t have control over #2 either, but at least it comes out without any extra help – Mama just never knows when or where!  We enjoy the outdoors a little more, then head inside to my favorite Lhasa Apso siblings, Molly and Theo.

Once inside, Mama takes off my wheelchair and I’m free to scoot around the room. My upper body is that of The Hulk – I’m ripped. I cannot feel my back legs at all, and they just follow behind as I explore. When I get going really fast, my booty bumps against the floor and this has caused something called hygroma. According to my vet, Dr. Riordan, “Hygroma is a combination of a callus and a seroma. They occur over pressure points, in this case the point of the ischium (bone point of the rear end). There is scar tissue and fluid in them; however, drainage is not always the treatment. There is no 100% treatment as they tend to recur, and they can easily get infected if too much drainage is done. The good news is that they are not really painful, and usually don’t interfere with other functions.” My booty gets measured every time I visit the vet, and it’s always been fine. I actually think the hygroma has now just turned into a big callus. And, I can’t feel anything back there anyway, so it’s all good.

I’m a good mopper. Because my back legs and my tummy are dusting the floor all the time, Mama makes sure to give me a bath once a week. Ugh. Not a fan. But, she’s usually pretty quick about it. Or, sometimes she takes a soapy washcloth to my belly. Important to stay clean, and I feel much better! I actually clean myself a lot, too. Even though I can’t feel my limbs, I lick them – I know they are part of me.

So, all of this came about because I was shot and thrown in a river. But I try not to focus on that, and neither does Mama. Even though she has to lift me up a lot (up the stairs, onto her bed), I think she tries to let me be as “normal” as a dog as possible. All of these unique things she does for me have become very routine for her and I think she would be lost without having to take extra-special care of me. I’ve heard her tell people that the rewards of caring for a special-needs dog are immeasurable. I feel lucky I could help her feel that kind of love!

Ooh, she’s turning off the lights downstairs, so that means we’re headed upstairs for the night. I’m over 60 pounds, but she’s used to hauling me around everywhere. Time to go to sleep on Mama’s bed, with my favorite fuzzy blanket… the other pups and I make sure she only has enough room to breathe and that’s it.  Don’t mind my snoring. I’ll be up again before the alarm!

10 thoughts on “A day in the life of a special (aka paralyzed) dog, as told by Duke

  1. Awesome story, Duke (& Susan)! You’re an awesome pair!

    Henrietta – have you tried acupuncture? It’s helping my mom’s mastiff with wobblers…

  2. I have followed Dukie’s story for some time. God, what a beautiful boy! I love him. And his mama is an amazing person, isn’t she? God bless their “mom and pups” family!

  3. Excellent story Duke, I never get tired of reading your stories! Question Dukie, where does your Mama keep them angel wings?

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