Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Dolce is Thankful For

A message from Dolce: "Today is my first Thanksgiving holiday. I have a lot to be thankful for. I've had to deal with some difficult things in my short life, but I'm very thankful that so many nice people worked so hard to help save my life: the wonderful people at Greenbriar Veterinary Referral and Emergency Hospital in Urbana, MD, who called several rescue groups to see if any of them could take me. I am also very thankful that a foster home with Harnessed to Hope decided that they could take me into their home and give me the care I needed during my recovery. If you look at my new main photo, you'll see me hard at work with an exercise ball during one my physical therapy sessions. I am so thankful that I got a second chance at life! Thanks again to all of the wonderful people who have made donations toward my care!"

Dolce is still having problems with one hip. His orthopedic surgeon would like to see if physical therapy helps to strengthen the muscles that hold the hip in place. Hopefully that will work so that Dolce won't need to have more surgery. Here is an update from Dolce's foster mom about his first physical therapy session.

"Boy, was I surprised at how different (and yet how much the same) canine physical therapy is to human PT. First, how different. Every time I've had to go through PT I was "on the clock". 45 minutes or an hour after I started I got "OK, thanks for coming, let's make another appointment (and please have your insurance card/payment ready)." Our appointment today for Dolce was at 10:00 AM, and we got there a few minutes early to fill out paperwork. As we were drying him off and talking about next week I glanced at the clock. Almost 1:00 PM! We never felt rushed, and the therapist apologized for keeping us!

We spent a while sitting around on the padded floor talking about Dolce's history, having his therapist watch him walk around and discussing the goals of the therapy, how to decide if it's working or if surgery is Dolce's best option, and how we would proceed. Finally we discussed pain meds, our feelings about them, and how to decide whether or not Dolce would need them during the therapy. Then we spent a while with Dolce's therapist showing us how to do the stretches and strength exercises. This part had stark resemblance to human PT. Finally, we got Dolce set up with his doggie life vest and he spent time in the tank walking and swimming.

We decided to begin with once a week sessions and see how he recovers or if the effects wear off too quickly and he needs to go to twice weekly. I think a lot of this will depend on us doing what we are supposed to do with him at home every day to maintain the work that is being done at therapy. We will assess, his therapist will assess, and Dolce will be seen by his orthopedist at the six-week point to see whether the leg is progressing well enough to continue with the therapy. If we decide not to finish the twelve sessions, rescue will be refunded the sessions not used.

I was so proud of Dolce today. Even when the physical therapist manipulated his hip and stretched it this way and that, the only reaction from Dolce was for him to turn around and lick his hands. Dolce was clearly scared in the tank (Akita's - and I suppose Akita/Husky mixes - are NOT known to be fond of water), but he walked and swam like such a trooper. The front of the tank has a glass door, and our job was to sit in front and make sure he focused on us and if he tried to go to the side to keep calling him toward the front. My head was saying "Oh, can't you see he's tired and sore. Please stop!", but out of my mouth came, "C'mon Dolce, you're doing great. Good boy!" This dog is a constant source of inspiration. "

Thanks again to all of you who have contributed toward Dolce's care. This is a really special boy, and we are so thankful that we are able to help him, and so many people have made that possible.


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