On our drive to pick up Maddie, my partner and I discussed our worries.
“What if she’s no better? It seems a real possibility.”
“I don’t know. Let’s wait and see. But I can admit, I don’t want to have a paralyzed dog. We aren’t going to configure wheels under her hind end.”
“Nope. That’s no life for her. Or for us.”
“But do we?…”
“Let’s just see.”
We walked into Wizard of Paws. There was Maddie. Her head popped up and she tried to drag herself to us. Frankly, I couldn’t see any difference. Poor dog still soiling herself and dragging legs behind in her own filth.
Deb (the Wizard) enthusiastically welcomed us. “Come on in and see what she can do.”
She carried Maddie to the mat corner. There, Deb propped Maddie between her own legs. True: Maddie stood.
Then Deb supported Maddie on a kidney-bean therapy ball. As we held the contraption still, Deb said, “See? It’s just like human therapy. With these balance balls, all her tiny muscles fire, keeping her upright. That reprograms her nerve endings.”
We chatted with Deb about her past as a physical therapist for the NY Ballet and the San Diego Chargers. “I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but who’s tougher? Ballerinas or football players?” I asked.
“Oh, are you kidding? No doubt. Ballerinas. They tolerate much more pain. The football players were wimps!”
Maddie pooped on the therapy mat.
“Ohmigod, I’m so sorry,” I said as Ellison was suddenly yelling, “Look Daddy! Maddie pooped!”
Meanwhile, Colton shared his pacifier with a different dog behind a gate. When the dog took it, he #tearlesscried. Not kidding.
We cleaned poop, shushed Ellison and confiscated the paci. I thanked Deb to an exhausting Midwestern degree (Connecticutters don’t thank effusively like my ilk) and we drove away mildly optimistic.
My partner (who originally felt pessimistic) said, “I think we’re going to get her home and she won’t tolerate seeing chipmunks and birds without chasing them.”
“I hope so.”
We got to our house in rural Lyme, CT, and Maddie lay down on a mat. I guess she was happy to be home. She smilingly panted. But tail wagged and no legs moved.
The next day, I took her out to express her bladder. (I’ll explain the intricacies of that, next time.)
And Maddie saw some chipmunks. She perked her ears and walked away from me. It was sloppy and drunken. She fell over to the right but struggled back up and lumbered toward the (long gone) squirrel.
But she walked, she walked, she walked! She fell this way and that and walked like her back end was a bad robotic extension of her body, but she walked.
Next time, we will end the story with poop.