Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog Blog. Why Would You Want the Road to be Easy?

Many Thanks to my good friends at the incredible "Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog" blog for nominating "Diary of a Real-Life Vet" for the Liebster Award.

"Lessons" is written in honor of  Sophie, a mixed breed Shepherd, who is the heroine and inspiration for this blog. "Lessons" shares tips, advice, and support for those families dealing with pets recovering from injuries that involve loss of limb function. It is a heartfelt blog with a big purpose and a loving network to share medical advancements, at home assistance, devices, and just a kind safety net for those care givers who might be challenged but are not discouraged. I know that the greatest acts of courage can be found in the homes of those pets whose spirit remains intact even as their bodies begin to weaken. There is no such thing as a broken dog, there are only those that don't know compassion. Let "Lessons of a Paralyzed Dog" inspire you to keep loving in spite of obstacles. Your pets will remind you that life is a beautiful precious gift even if you aren't perfect.

Here is one of my favorite posts;

Adopting a paralyzed dog or cat isn’t the right choice for every pet owner, but if you decide to go for it, the experience can be life-changing.
I always tell people that my world turned upside down when Sophie became paralyzed, but when I was recently asked to describe a typical day I realized that living with a special needs pet just took organization. Here are tips that helped me with my “specially-abled” little girl.
Quality of Life
Determining if your paralyzed dog or cat will have a good quality of life is the most important decision to make. This didn’t take long for me because Sophie’s enthusiasm for life didn’t change. She wanted to do the activities she always loved. We went for walks and car rides and Sophie still played with my two other dogs. I decided that as long as she wasn’t in pain and had this zest to live, I would do everything I could to help.
Paralyzed dogs and cats take up more of your time than an able-bodied pet. They need your assistance to lift them, move them, go potty and more. I was lucky that I work from home so my time was flexible. Having enough time to properly care for your handicapped pet is an important consideration.
It’s hard to bring up finances, but paralyzed dogs and cats cost more money than healthy pets. There is equipment like wheelchairs or carts to buy, physical therapy or other rehabilitation sessions, PT equipment for at-home exercises, diapers, booties, harnesses and possible future surgeries. Being aware of what you can afford is essential.
Establish a Routine
Living with a paralyzed animal is all about being organized. Establishing a routine makes life less overwhelming and will keep your pet healthy. For instance, setting a bathroom schedule every four-five hours will keep you day on track and prevent your pet from getting urinary tract infections which are common in paralyzed animals.
Be Creative/ Have Fun
Disabled dogs and cats like to have fun and engaging them in games keeps their minds alert. Paralyzed dogs confined to one location for long periods of time become unhappy and frustrated. So be creative and enjoy your pet. If your dog loved to chase a ball, teach her how to catch one that you toss gently in the air. Or strap your dog into a wheelchair and let him run after the ball like he used to. You can play tug-of-war with paralyzed dogs and cats can swat their paws at pretend prey at the end of a fishing rod. With your creativity, your pet can enjoy lots of activities.

Wren, who doesn't have a runny nose and eyes any second of any day.
I spend my days cleaning  up sniffles and wiping her face.

When I look at Sophie's picture I see hope, dignity and gratitude. Is taking care of a paralyzed dog easy? No, but neither is life. There is a sense of purpose and greater joy in being a lifeline for another living soul. It is the most demanding, emotionally and yet rewarding journey you will ever take. I spent a year with Savannah watching  her body fail, her personality waiver, and her world withdraw from around her. It was difficult to see her become the shadow of the proud independent diva she once was but there isn't a day that I don't feel enormously grateful to have had that time with her. I learned more about who I was and what I believed in because I was challenged to do so. For me that's a great gift; To know that I don't need, nor want, the easy choices. I want the sweetest moments of life to matter. I want to feel them, live them, and grow because of them.

Take a personal journey into every challenge and discover who you are, you will meet amazing lives along the way. After all that's all you carry with you in the end.

If you have a pet question, or want to share your pet experiences to help others please join us on Pawbly is a free open community dedicated to helping pet parents care for their four legged kids. We are a here to help, and we are always free to use.

If you would like to discuss your pets case with me you can find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet in Jarrettsville Maryland. Or find me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Many thanks to the wonderful people at Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog for all of the amazing work they do!


  1. Krista, Thank you so much for highlighting Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog. You summed up my mission perfectly. Wishing you continued success in sharing your blog stories. I enjoy the honest perspective you give about being a veterinarian and a pet owner. -Sharon

    1. Thanks! I love your blog and more importantly I love your mission! Keep rooting for the underdog, I'm rooting beside you!