The morning of September 11, 2009, 6:30am we awoke for a normal day. We let the dogs out for their morning ritual while we had our showers and got prepared for the day. When we let our dogs in after their morning bathroom break, we observed a strange lameness in Cody's left leg. We checked her over and encouraged her to try and walk around the room, which she did with enthusiasm however, her hind-end wasn't so co-operative. By 7:45am we were at the veterinary hospital. Cody was totally paralyzed from the waist down with no bowel or bladder control. We were devastated! The emergency veterinarian told us to prepare for the worst. He mentioned that he had no idea what could have caused the sudden paralysis but performed an neurological exam and took x-rays after we demanded that we would not give up on our furbaby.
The exam conclusion was that there was nothing on the x-ray, no broken bones, no pinched nerves and she was in very good health otherwise. The emergency veterinarian suggested we go to another clinic to see a specialist in spinal and orthopaedic medicine. Later that day the specialist performed the exact same exams, reviewed the x-rays and concluded that Cody was in good health. He told us that we should be very grateful that we had 8-glorious years with her and that it was time now to say our good byes. Euthanasia was not an option, Cody was our child and we were going to do everything we could to help her and us cope with her new handicap. The specialist explained that there was a 99% chance that her sudden paralysis was caused by a fibrocartilaginous embolism, basically a stroke in her spine that starved the essential nerves for mobility and control from her waist down. He explained that she was in no discomfort, that honestly she could not feel anything and that there would be a 75%-85% chance that she could regain some form of control but that our Cody was in a very bad state and recovery, if any, would be a miracle. Nothing else was offered, no medicine, treatment or support. As far as the experts were concerned – this was the end.
We took Cody home and then immediately went shopping for supplies. Doggie diapers, pee-pee pads, a new comfy bed and plenty of treats. If this was the new way things were going to be, we were going to make it work.
The next day we started months of therapy. Laser, magnetic, massage, water-treadmill, physiotherapy, you name it we tried it. Small improvements each week made us optimistic, a leg twitch, a tail wag, but it never improved beyond that.
Being a very energetic border collie – blue heeler cross, my husband and I could see a sort of depression overcoming our Cody as the weeks past. She so desired to go for a walk, swim or chase the ball. We had been pondering the idea of getting her a wheelchair but the physiotherapist warned that if we got her one too soon, she might become dependent on the wheels and not try as hard to use her legs again. In our hearts we knew this is what she needed and so we ordered her wheels from www.handicappedpets.com.
Her cart arrived January 2010, days after Cody's 9th birthday. We set it up and hooked her in and she toppled over backwards; our mistake. After a few adjustments we tried again, hooked her up and...ZOOOOM! It was like she was born with it, like walking in a cart was always her way of life. The sparkle was back in her eyes as she showed delight in being able to run and chase the ball and go for her walks except this time she was the center of attention as everyone noticed her in her shiny new wheels.
A few more weeks of therapy and then we stopped, coming to the conclusion that all she wanted to do was be a dog, albeit handicapped. Nothing was going to stop her from her happiness and so what if she had an "accident" once in a while or had to work a little harder pulling herself around the house...she was happy and healthy and as her guardians we wanted nothing more for her.
It has been over a year now since we got her cart. We've had to replace the wheels once already due to the tread wearing away, her harness is duct taped in several spots from wear and some of the decals and paint is showing it's hours and hours of use. Cody does everything with her wheelchair that she did when she had use of all her legs – she even swims with it. Sometimes if she insists on swimming even though we know she's tired we put a Styrofoam noodle on the back bar of her cart to help it float easier. Everywhere we go, she is the center of attention and has to pose often for pictures.
We have so much thanks for the products you offer and the quality of life they bring to furry babies everywhere. With the support of our regular veterinarian, who is so proud that we never gave up, and the products offered these days for animals with handicaps, we look forward to many more years with our furbaby, Cody.
With much love and thanks
Cody and the Hammer Household