CHANGE is a popular word with our new President and every day, whether we like it or not, changes occur all around us – many of which we have no control over and many we do! Life can CHANGE in an instant from a phone call, meeting someone who teaches or influences us, reading a newspaper or book or receiving an email.
I grew up in Scotland and in 1960, after visiting Paris, France, I placed an ad in Le Figaro seeking a position. I received many replies and had accepted a position and was set to go to Paris when on the day I was about to post my letter, I received a letter from the USA offering me a job with a
family in Pennsylvania. – the husband was a writer of animal stories, a falconer and had a private Zoo. And just like that the direction of my life changed. I thought, well I could always go to France but I might never be given the opportunity to go to America, so I came across the Atlantic instead of the English Channel. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like had I gone to France! But as they say, that is “water under the bridge”.
CHANGE…to alter, make different, revolutionize, remodel, take a new direction and transform…to name but a few meanings. I know that anyone connected with animal rehabilitation is changing their patient’s lives on a daily basis. AND not only do we CHANGE the life of the pet and their canine companions but we also make a CHANGE to their owners lives. I know that every time I see a dog run off in a cart with bright eyes and wagging tail I get a feeling deep down inside me of happiness that I have made a difference in thatpet’s life! And I can tell from the owners’ expressions and amazement that they feel that emotion too.
I do not need to tell all of you how you are changing your patient’s lives as you see it on a daily basis. Pets just like us can become depressed when they are unable to participate in their daily activities because of pain and or mobility problems. Young dogs very often will drag around happily but generally not older dogs who have experienced life and see all their regular pleasures and routines disappear because of their inability to move.
To illustrate, – let me tell you about “Buddy” The other day, an owner walked into our waiting room carrying a large dog bed. Sitting in the middle of the bed was Buddy, a miniature Dachshund surrounded by quilts and blankets. He did not look happy he was scared and I remember saying to myself that I had better watch my fingers.. Not only was he scared but he was defensive and aggressive. In fact when I did approach him to evaluate and measure him for his wheelchair, as expected, he missed my fingers by about 1inch. His owner had come to see me initially to have me evaluate him as he and his wife did not want to put Buddy to sleep but it was difficult to take care of him in his condition and they did not want to continue his life if he was unhappy and at this time, he certainly looked unhappy. I checked him out. He was paralyzed, had some deep pain sensation, tail control but no bladder function. I said that he would be a good candidate for a cart and that we might even be able to return him to mobility, due to his physical condition as he had only been down for 3 weeks. I have seen so many cases recover at this stage and it is amazing what placing them in one of our carts, keeping the spine and limbs in alignment and allowing them to run around and gain leg movement will do.
I talked to the owner about nursing care and showed him various products that would help taking care of “Buddy” easier for he and his wife. We also talked about expressing the bladder and prevention of sores and general care of the paraplegic pet.
While we were talking, Chris had made up a cart for “Buddy”. After we had fitted Buddy to his cart we let him go and within minutes he was running all over our facility, seeking out the squeaky toys and trying to rip them to shreds- as Dachshunds tend to do! He ran up to us to say thanks- aggression gone! He was totally transformed. His owner was ecstatic as he and his wife had thought they might have had to put him to sleep. We had given Buddy back his old life. He did not care that he was not running around using his rear legs- he was just able to run around again and play with his toys and he was on an equal footing with us again. We CHANGED not only his lack of mobility but his disposition and outlook on life. AND brought happiness back into his owner’s lives. All this accomplished by just giving him mobility with one of our wheelchairs.
Another case comes to mind of an owner who brought in two Australian Shepherds. Jack was completely mobile and Molly needed help with mobility as she could barely stagger around. We fitted Molly with a cart and off the family went. I received an email shortly thereafter thanking me and letting me know that not only was Molly back to her usual self, begging at the barbecue, running along the beach and over the fields but it had changed Jack’s life too as he had become depressed and unhappy because Molly had not been able to play and run with him due to her lack of mobility. They were a happy twosome again! CHANGE in 2 dog’s lives and owners this time!
I visited a large rehab center a couple of years ago and took along a cart, a large specialty with a front extension, as I had come to visit a 90lb Shepherd mix that had been receiving swim and physical therapy for almost a year. He could only stand with front and rear support and I was there to try him with a cart with a front extension to see if it would help him. When I came into the facility he was lying on a large pad in a beautiful facility but he was sad and totally disinterested in what was going on around him.
After we discussed his case and talked for a while we stood him up and placed him in the cart I had brought. He just stood there with that sad look on his face. I had brought along my little paralyzed Dachshund, Piccolo, I owned at the time. Some of you may have seen him at shows or met him when you came over to visit us with Cindy. We had adopted him after he was abandoned at a veterinary hospital at four months. He was full of energy and loved to run after balls, so I started throwing his ball and he tore off after it as his usual breakneck speed, retrieving it and bringing it back to my feet. Our friend watched this and after the third throw he took off after the ball at top speed in his cart. Everyone was amazed at this transformation. It was wonderful to watch their reactions and expressions of amazement. I have to say I see miracles like this all the time for that is what we do! After about 15 minutes of going after the ball we took him out of the cart to rest. This time when he was placed on his pad, he sat up on his sternum and looked alive. His eyes were bright and he was a different dog. He had CHANGED.
The orthopedic, neurologic practice in Holland and the head surgeon there discharges all his IVDD cases home with carts 2 days after surgery. Why does he do this? Because he knows that it is beneficial to faster recovery, keeps the pets happy, makes nursing care easier for the owner and helps prevent bladder infections and sores from developing! We are not advocating turning a dog loose in a cart as they do need owner supervision when using their carts. Now the dogs are able to resume their normal activities and nursing care is made easier for the owner helping prevent bladder infections and decubital sores.
These are just some examples of how our carts CHANGE pets with mobility problems. I could go on and on but what I want to stress to all of you is that along with your excellent physical and swim therapy remember that carts are a very important addition to your rehabilitation programs. They are greatly overlooked in the area of rehabilitation and with this in mind we now offer two services. Cart rentals and cart rehabilitation packages. Pets needs controlled mobility when they go home and you will see that they will recover faster. After all you would not be sent home from the hospital with a mobility problem without, crutches, a walker or wheelchair so that you were able to perform your normal activities.
Please call us if you would like us to mail you further information on these programs and how we may help add to your successes. I am always available for consultations and if you have a particular case or would like me to visit and talk with you about the benefits of our wheelchairs, just call me at 800 578-6960.
Pet Mobility Rehab Center
(formerly K-9 Carts West)