Matilda's Story Part 3: Putting in the Hard Yards

Matilda standing on grass at Two Hands Four PawsIn Matilda, we had an energetic, unsocialized four-year-old rescue dog that had never been able to straighten her back legs, with weak, stretchy skin that tore easily due to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), and who had just come out of surgeries for luxating patellas on BOTH of her knees. Our job at Two Hands Four Paws was to rehabilitate her to where she could find a forever home. No problem.

Dr. C’s surgical work was excellent. Those patellas weren’t going anywhere. We would have to pay attention to her surroundings to protect her skin. That was accomplished by beds, lots of padding, and no roommates for the time being. Nevertheless, activity restriction was …challenging. This dog was ready to move!

Matilda sleepingMatilda being held by a physical therapist at Two Hands Four PawsOur main task was getting those rear legs stretched out and working. Warm compresses were used to relax the muscles and connective tissues. Hours of Passive Range of Motion (PROM) integrated into her massages was key. Traction, where the patient is held vertically with the legs allowed to extend naturally also works, to a point. This was tough, and we had to be sure her pain was well managed. Metacam, a Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory (NSAID) was prescribed, as was Gabapentin. One of our doctors is a Master in several aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine and recommended acupuncture, Benefit Hips and Knees, and Concentrated Jie Gu San. Four years of a crab-like movement due to patellar subluxation had wreaked havoc on her knees, hips, neck, shoulders, and spine. Laser therapy was therefore part of almost every session. Our therapists also used an Assisi Loop to accelerate the healing. 

Matilda the chihuahua using an assisted wheelchairMatilda made great progress. Her warrior spirit was strong. She was in good spirits. Maybe a little too good. A note from one of her last PT sessions reads, “Patient is active a little too much, likes hopping and jumping.” 

She had done it. She was able to stand on a Bosu ball for balance work. She could trot over the cavaletti poles. She could do Figure 8s, rocker boards, three-legged stands, and more. 

Matilda and AnnaEvery day, every step, she became taller and her legs became stronger. It was a joy to witness. Our veterinarians and therapists, who had kept such a close eye on her progress were all in agreement - Matilda was ready for her forever home.

Next Up: Home Was Right There All Along