Buddy, our beagle, lives in the kitchen of our house. It’s not only because he loves to eat. He’s confined to the kitchen because he has special needs. Buddy needs to be kept away from stairs. He needs to be kept away from the front door. And, for our sake, he needs to be kept off carpet. (Sometimes he has accidents.)
Buddy suffers from degenerative disk disease. His first episode with the illness occurred in 2013, when at age three, a disk in his back ruptured. This event might have been triggered by jumping on and off furniture. The ruptured disk pressed on his spinal cord. Within twenty-four hours Buddy’s hind legs were paralyzed. My husband and I were faced with a life or death decision. Do we sign for emergency surgery to remove the ruptured disk material, or send him to doggy heaven?
We chose the surgery even though it meant months of physical therapy for Buddy to walk again. His recovery became our joint project. It meant keeping him in his crate for six weeks. It meant driving him to the animal hospital for sessions on an underwater treadmill. It meant practicing exercises to strengthen his hind legs at home.
His recovery happened in stages. After the six weeks of crate rest, there was the “walking him with his back legs lifted off the ground in a sling stage.” Eventually we entered the “walking him with a skinny strap under his belly stage.” And finally the “Yay, he can walk on his own stage.” Four years later he still drags his back feet and needs to wear booties to prevent sores. But Buddy’s still walking.
Looking back, I don’t know how we did it. I was fortunate to be retired at the time, and my husband was working part time. We became known in our neighborhood as people who really love their dog.
About a year ago we bought a small camper and started taking Buddy with us to the Florida State Parks. You might run into us sometime. He’s only dog I’ve seen with little red booties.