After Brandy (my dog that had been a huge part of my life for 20 years) died and my marriage ended, the kids and I lived with one dog for a couple of months, but I decided we needed some extra happiness in our lives. That happiness came in the form of a dog named Happy, who was always wagging his tail with excitement. We found him at the San Francisco Humane Society. Where Odie (our Australian Shephard mix) was mellow, Happy was happy. Where Odie was subdued, Happy was happy. Where Odie was lethargic, Happy was happy. Happy always wanted to play; Odie preferred it if he stayed away. Although being a single mother in a large house with two dogs was a huge responsibility, I never allowed fear to dictate my decisions.
In 2006, when unexpected brain surgery complications forced the dogs to live alone for several months, Happy and Odie kept each other company and stayed out of trouble. They didn't escape, fight with raccoons, get unusually dirty, or injure themselves. They saved all of these things for Mommy. The latest incident involves Happy's knee.
He tore his Anterior (Cranial) Cruciate Ligament on his left rear knee. I took him to the vet because he suddenly stopped using that leg. My vet referred me to a surgeon. I did a lot of research on this condition, so I was armed with information at Happy's appointment. After discussing all the options with the surgeon, I decided to go ahead with the procedure to stabilize his knee joint.
In my research, I came across a lot of advice for getting Happy strong again. Prescribed exercises, icing, heating pads, and massage were suggested. Ok, this was starting to sound familiar. As you may know, I am quite familiar with a prescribed exercise program. I always referred to it as torture, but you may know it under
its more common name: physical therapy.
My dog needs physical therapy? Okaaaaay, that's a new one. I didn't know how I was going to do doggy rehab, when I couldn't walk him or carry him myself. Abby suggested, half-jokingly, that I make this a project for a student. I thought this was a great idea, so I wrote up a proposal and showed it to my dean.
The next day, a student with aspirations of veterinary school contacted me with interest. Lisa works with Happy twice a week, and has researched an exercise protocol to strengthen his knee. She made up data sheets for the kids and I to fill out as we implement his therapy each day. Each week, new activities will be added.
Lisa will research which exercises Happy should do AND why they should be done. She will submit an abstract to present this project at this year's SACNAS conference and next year's honor's symposium. Happy's (and our) lemons are turning out to be Lisa's cranberries!