Jul 062014

Early on Saturday morning of the Memorial Day weekend I received an email about a paraplegic corgi in great need. Putting my plans aside I drove to South Carolina and picked up Chip a 43 pound corgi with Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). After being checked out at the vets he came home and I quickly remembered the “rules” of fostering:

1. The first days are stressful – both for the dog and for the foster family.
Chip spent most of the first week hiding in his ex-pen or in the corner by the front door. My own dogs who are used to “canine visitors” were treading carefully, not quite certain of what was going on. Me, not wanting to play into Chips attention seeking or was it apprehension, fed, expressed and cleaned him but otherwise let him be.


Chip X-Pen



2. The Grace Period.
By day 5 Chip decided that things were OK and started to explore. He was on his best behavior, nice to the other dogs although ornery to me when I was expressing him or cleaning him.  Some of this was pain related, afterall Chip was only a week out from his disk injury.  Having spoken to the vet and got Chip on stronger pain medications (gabapentin, tramadol) plus medications to help relax his bladder (phenoxybenzamine and diazepam) the situation rapidly improved.


3. Settling In.
By the start of the second week Chip started showing his Corgi colors, jostling for position in the pack, behaving like a typical Corgi, trying to herd (bully) my dogs. While the Labs and Shepherds didn’t take much notice, my Heeler, being another herding breed did not take kindly to the interloper. Both have remained on their best behavior but every day make a point of sitting next to each other with heads back barking for several minutes. Thankfully expressing and cleaning was becoming less of a battle and more of a routine.


4. Getting kitted out.
Being paralyzed Chip needed protection for his feet and a cart. Boots weren’t a problem, although skin damage from him lying in the same position when he weighed so much were. Adding socks under boots, extra padding to Chips bed, removing his boots while confined, and changing the position of his hind legs every few hours did the trick. As for the cart … some dogs do great, others tolerate carts and some refuse to use them. Initially Chip wasn’t too certain, standing with his head down and ears back. Once he figured out the cart allowed him to herd the other dogs more effectively everything changed and now there’s no stopping him.

Five weeks on Chip is not in pain, is used to being expressed, has improved mobility and is ready for his forever home. To find out more visit: Chips Adoption Page

May 042013

For dogs that are paraplegic or have mobility issues, it is really important to keep them “slim and trim” to help reduce strain on their joints and keep them as mobile as possible.

Last week I started fostering a paralyzed Red Heeler named Freckles (more about her in later blog posts).  She had been found in a ditch and was not moving much.  I was concerned enough that I asked the rescue if she was truly only affected in two legs or if she was tetraparetic, affected in all four legs.

My question was answered as soon as I saw Freckles ….


freckles         Overweight paraplegic dog


She was clearly someones well loved, or is it overly loved, pet.  Freckles should weigh around 45-50lbs, but tipped the scales at almost 65lbs.  She is so obese that she can barely move herself round, exhausted after moving the 10 feet from the kitchen to the living room.  Her weight has also resulted in pressure damage to her feet, hocks and stifles, and her fat pad is red and irritated where it rubs the ground.

On Monday Freckles will be going to the vets to be checked over and see a neurologist and a nutritionist.  While she will likely not appreciate being on a diet, losing weight, fitting into a cart and getting to experience the world will most definitely improve her health and quality of life.


Apr 252013

I’ve lost count of the times I have been asked why Carl wasn’t just euthanized when he became paralyzed, because he surely can’t have a good quality of life when he can’t walk …  Strangely once people have met Carl they never ask again …

I have fostered or adopted four paralyzed dogs and not one has been “depressed” or “miserable”.  Unlike us humans dogs live for the moment, and just get on with life, not having the hang ups we do.  For Carl this means doing what he wants to when he wants to (sigh) it not mattering if he can stand and walk or not.  As they say where there’s a will there’s a way and you can be certain that Carl will find the way.

I adopted “Crazy Carl” three years ago – since then he has broken three wheelchairs, either through jumping up and down so much that he lifted the wheelchair off the ground and the frame broke or by running and turning so fast that the cart flipped over and some part failed.  In winter his cart doesn’t do so well, so Carl wears protective leggings and goes “au naturale”, having a blast chasing round in the snow.

When Carl used to go to rehab, walking in the underwater treadmill really was not an option – it was much more fun to splash around and dive for imaginary tennis balls (his favorite toy).

Being paraplegic need not and should not be a death sentence for a dog.  Yes, there are challenges but they will generally be for you rather than your dog.  Life for a paraplegic can be and should be very good.