What was I doing this summer? Going to veterinary hospitals and clinics with my puppy, Ben–forming a spiritual bond with my young Springer, one that has been forged from surgery and casts and screws, but most of all a unique and wonderful bond of spirit which is still growing. Unfortunately, this bond has a hint of post-traumatic stress and even separation anxiety.
When surgery is necessary for your pet, a good surgeon is vital but from then on the rehabilitation process is uncharted ground. Ben’s surgeon, Dr. Charles McBrien of Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital, was our surgeon and is our friend. He keeps in touch through the phone and e-mails and has a close-to-home team to help monitor progress. On our local team is Dr. Pat Kitchen, Leighow Veterinary Hospital, who not only changed bandages but has always been available, and Dr. Kristin Edwards. Edwards specializes in acupuncture and has been there to help me psychologically and behaviorally with Ben. She has acted as the glue who has kept us all on the same mission. And, Deb Traugh, who does massage, helped with individual suggestions and home visits.
“Night terrors” are a horrible result of medication and trauma. As more and more people get them, I think we will find research which shows that dogs experience similar events. After surgery Ben needed to have the lights on and me sleeping close by. He was young–4 months. He is now 14 months old and I have weaned him away from sleeping with a light on and out of his crate. I am able to sleep in my own bed. He checks on me before settling down for sleep and again in the morning. He is gentle but needs a reassuring touch–or at least one of us does!
Ben is one of a litter whelped by my youngest daughter–I had pick of the litter. Ben took one look at me and toddled off to a corner of the puppy pen and lay down. After 40 years of sharing my life with Springers I knew he was the puppy for me. Later on when Dr. McBrien met Ben he exclaimed, “ you can’t teach a puppy to be like Ben!” Ben seemed to have been born mature and wise and yet full of puppy wonder which continues growing as his leg heals. Like Michael Jackson or perhaps puppy mill puppies his childhood was abnormal.
In coming BLOGS I will tell you Ben’s story. He has worn many plastic cone hats which I call “halos”. He has endured lots of pins and screws and even a cast from age 4 months until now–he celebrated his first birthday last week. We hope someday to earn our TDI and pass on the empathy.
Today Ben can run with joy or just relax in front of the TV on the couch. He can be naughty like any puppy or silly–drinking cranberry juice and carrying Pepsi cans. His field of vision now includes birds and rain drops. And, although he still hops once in awhile, his leg seems to remember what it is supposed to do and he can use his healing leg just as if nothing had happened.
At first it was thought that Ben’s problem was due to an injury. Puppies are notorious for easy skeletal injury which becomes the basis for later-life arthritis. With the growing popularity of agility and emphasis on increasing speed and competition, injuries occur. The popular solution is a life-long monitoring of weight and Ben can’t pass a veterinary scale without trying it out. We changed his diet to a prescription diet–r/d. In Ben’s case, as he ages, if he needs a pain killer his diet can be changed to j/d which has been clinically proven to requires only 25% of the usual amount of most NSAIDS.
Deb Traugh, who in addition to providing massage is a registered nurse, therapist and communicator, is one of Ben’s friends. She devised the massages he enjoys. Deb stresses the healing effect of positive energy and this has been a vital part of the healing.
We need veterinarians trained in rehabilitation. We also need palliative care to manage both pain and fear. For example, it would be helpful to provide instruction in how to help pets wear their halos and how to endure prolonged crate rest. I hope to share what I learned with Ben so if you decide your pet will benefit from surgery you will be able to survive and perhaps enjoy the healing that seems to take so long.Oct 30, 2011 | | Uncategorized