By Leslie Gallagher
One of the “nice” things about having a paralyzed puppy that is also adorable is that everyone wants to help him. People consistently, daily, hourly stop me when I’m carrying Mav around and ask what happened to him, tell me he’s adorable, and then ask me how they can help. People just can’t help themselves when they see him. He’s so damn cute and so damn paralyzed. It’s impossible for most people to NOT want to help him. Even my neighbors who are certain that I am completely crazy, neighbors who probably hate the noise and barking that come from my house and watch me a cajillion times a day bending over to pick up poop from their yards, see Mav and say, “Oh my god how cute is that PUPPY?!!!!!”
Total aside: Today I was working with my dog trainer, the world-famous Michael Chill, trying to get my hideously behaving young, albino Doberman, Kashmir to walk nicely on a leash. Complete and other aside: Dr. Sue Downing (also world-famous) is India’s oncologist, my other albino Doberman. Dr. Downing had gotten mad at me during India’s recent melanoma recheck because one of the areas on her body that seems to be producing melanomas the fastest is her nose. Dr. Downing asked me if I put sunscreen on it every day and I meekly said, “No” while vowing that as soon as I got home I’d be slathering her and her brother Kashmir in Hawaiian Tropic sun block SPF 5000. Back to my original aside: As Michael and I were about to take Kashmir out to work on his bratty behavior I stopped and slathered his nose in sunscreen. He recoiled as he always does (and tries to run away from me) when I pulled out the sunscreen. So Michael, taking advantage of Kashmir’s fear of the sunscreen, promptly borrowed the bottle and we proceeded to do an hour’s worth of training using the bottle of sunscreen to “scare” Kashmir into walking politely. My neighbors, seeing me walking around the neighborhood for an hour threatening my dog with a bottle of sunscreen once again were reminded that I am truly, completely nuts with my dogs.
So, when they come out of their houses and actually ask how they can help Maverick I am nothing but astonished. I stifle the urge to explain any unusual behavior they might have seen, just as I do at Costco when I’m in there buying my 10,000th carton of Poise Pads “for the heavy menstrual cycle”. “They’re for my paralyzed dogs’ diapers, I swear!” Mav always gets giddy with delight when people stop and want to talk to him. He wiggles and squirms while his tail goes about a thousand miles an hour with excitement. I wish sometimes that they were all actual physical therapists so I could take them up on their offers of support and pawn him off for some good PT for Mav and an hour or two of R&R for Bryan and I.
One client was kind enough to send her own personal PT over who spent two hours helping us build some custom carpal splints to put on Maverick’s front legs when we were doing assisted walking exercises. He’s coming back this week to help us build a thermoplastic splint that we can use to keep his elbows in place. And has offered to come back weekly to adjust it as Mav gets more flexion in his elbows. Another super awesome surgeon, Dr. Kim Carey took Mav for the day, shot radiographs of his elbows and shoulders and created a custom splint to help us flex his left elbow, his problem joint.
And the incredibly kind vet, Dr. Patrick Mahaney approached us and offered to do bloodwork and titer testing to see what and how much immunity Maverick has from distemper, parvo, etc. as he never got his full series of vaccines thanks to the horrifying reaction he had to his second series. This will hopefully help me to feel more comfortable allowing him to play with other puppies as he wasn’t fully vaccinated, and due to his response to the last vaccine I’m not comfortable ever vaccinating him again. But I need to keep him safe from disease and I need to keep all other unvaccinated puppies safe as well, so titer testing will hopefully give us peace of mind.
A third highly respected vet, Dr. Richard Palmquist asked me to bring Mav to his office for muscle testing so that we could be sure that he was on all of the right supplements to help detox his little body from the vaccine reaction. When I called his office to make an appointment, his receptionist told me that he was booked solid for the next month. Wow. “BUT,” she said, “let me tell him to call you and we will see what we can do.” I expect no favors from anyone so I thanked her and hung up. Not an hour later Dr. Palmquist called and said, “I can’t have you wait for a month or it will be too late. Can you come by tomorrow at the end of the day and just wait for me to finish and I’ll fit you in?” I was so surprised and honored that he would be willing to do that for me. But, of course, it’s not for me at all. It’s for that darling little boy that he had just met named Maverick.
My running partner, Dr. Joyce Wondolowski, a neuroscientist (perfect for Mav!!) who also happens to be halfway through PT school corralled five of her fellow PT students and they all came to the office weekly to give Mav some PT love. It is fun for me to watch Joyce work as she has this very quiet and careful way with Maverick and she can spend 2-3 hours at a time putting him through his paces. The first time she showed up I was worried that it was an awful lot of PT for the little guy but she definitely knew what she was doing because the following day was the best day, physically, he ever had. His joints moved like butter and I was thrilled with his progress.
A client’s husband, who happens to be a pediatrician, spent some time with Maverick and told me that he sees the same kinds of vaccine reactions in children. I was astonished, as I’ve never heard of a person having such a strong reaction to a vaccine. But, thinking about it, my own sister developed Guillain-Barre syndrome which had left her paralyzed for almost a month and Maverick’s diagnosis is not that different. In fact, they’re very similar. She recovered nicely but then she wasn’t a baby puppy when it happened!
And lastly, my orthotist friend Ron and his team of prosthetic/orthotic developers spent a few hours measuring Mav to see if they could create a device that would help with statically flexing both his elbows (which are still fairly frozen) while trying to keep his shoulders in the sockets. His shoulders threaten to pop out on a regular basis while we flex his elbows because they are compensating for the tightness of his elbows. We have decided for now to put the orthotics on hold as Ron thinks it will be insanely expensive, very time consuming and might not work. We put Maverick in a device that they created while we were there and he froze completely, refusing to move. My fear was that we would spend a ton of time and $$ and he wouldn’t work in the device created. And that would be a shame!
I’m so incredibly grateful to all the people who want to help this puppy. And that doesn’t even begin to include the dozens upon dozens upon dozens of clients who call, message me or just show up each day to help. Some of them can stretch, some can massage, some bring their puppies to play with him and some come by just to sit and hold him and tickle his tummy and bring new toys for him to chomp on. It really truly takes a army.
If you’d like to contribute towards Maverick’s recovery please call the front desk at Two Hands Four Paws. Thanks!