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Thank you so very much.
We have also been a little confused with Kujo's day to day & week to week improvements. There are things, like him bending his leg at the knee joint, that we see & assume that it is improvement.
There hasn't been any noticeable decline that we KNOW of. We aren't medical professionals & sometimes feel a little lost (obviously lol). Kujo is our first dog, much less our first "down dog". We are hoping that our at home therapy and PT in Tallahassee will help him with a full recovery.
We are also trying to be real with ourselves. It's very hard. IF he doesn't walk again, what will life look like for him? Are we progressing or have we plateaued? We've read and researched for these two months, endlessly. Yesterday, we read that most recovery takes place 4-6 weeks after the accident- the chances being greater the sooner medical professionals get involved.
We get great news from the vet every week, seemingly giving us a little hope that he is recovering. We know and see that Kujo is "ready" to be moving. It's almost like he will look back at his feet when we play, hoping they will move or maybe wondering why they aren't. From what we've been told, we're really waiting on a 'click' to go off in Kujo's head saying "get up, walk, left, right, left, right, etc."
I don't question our Vets knowledge whatsoever & have gone in the direction she suggests or advises for us since day one, trusting that she does know the best care for Kujo. I more-so question myself & if I'm missing anything or OVER noticing things, giving myself false hope in recovering. Like, Kujo has started to slowly move his tail. Very rarely, very new, but very much something. Am I taking a small sign like that as too much when looking at recovery? In the long run, his tail is not needed to walk but to see it move again makes me feel better! It makes me feel like some connections are being made but I can't help but wonder if I may be 'reaching'?
Are there any week to week guides for recovery or is every dog different? I feel like even though they do differ from one another, recovery is similar when looking for certain things. Once again, that is me assuming & to be honest, I don't like assuming anything when it comes to Kujo. Any help is always so appreciated.
Here are a couple to things I posted about my dog, who had a spinal fracture (not a stroke, a broken back). Note that your dog is recovering much faster than mine did. With my dog's injury, we had an extra long wait. Just as you cannot go by how quickly a dog that was reported online recovered and apply that to your dog, you also cannot go by how slowly another dog (like my dog) recovered and apply that to yours. Each dog will recover according to his own timeline.
There is so much variation between dogs, such as the status before surgery, breed and age of the dog, which disk or disks were affected, etc.
What you described seeing is the way recovery occurs, though. It tends to be by baby steps. You notice a tiny bit of function, then a tiny bit more. Some days (or even weeks) it may seem like there was no improvement, but in reality he is healing in the background the whole time, even though it may not be visible to the eye. If your dog has bladder control or partial bladder control, that is a great sign so soon after surgery.
So...maybe someone will reply about how long it took their dog to walk, but even if they do, it may not apply to your dog...? I very much remember the early days after my dog had her spinal surgery. I searched the Internet and could not find a case exactly like my dog's, but I found one I could relate to, a beagle named Murphy. After reading Murphy's story, I began to expect in the back of my mind that my dog would stand at a certain timepoint like Murphy, and then walk at a certain timepoint. Like Murphy. When she didn't, I was very distressed, I would almost say crushed. I didn't realize until then how much I had built it up in my mind that her recovery was going to proceed exactly like Murphy's. And boy, was I wrong. But she learned to walk again on her own schedule, and it was worth waiting for.
So anyway, I hope you know I understand that state of mind. I love to tell my dog's story, but I also hesitate sometimes, because I don't want anyone to inappropriately apply the case of my dog with a broken back to their dog, and think if their dog is going to take 9 months like mine did, forget it, I can't keep this up that long. Your dog is way ahead of where mine was. At two months I was just glad she could turn herself in her bed. We had been rejected for PT and were not able to start PT till 5 months post-injury, though I was doing what I could at home. My dog did learn to walk again, and it was worth it.The thing is you ARE doing it. You ARE getting there. I think the secret is, it can just take a lot more time and effort than anyone bargained for. Oh, for a crystal ball, huh? Have you heard me go on and on about this? My dog first managed to walk about 4 feet (going on a downhill slope, mind you) at around 9 months. Nobody was more surprised than me. At that point, she still couldn't stand up for 10 seconds. I used to watch her try to stand and topple over, and we were lucky if I counted to 7. We did our therapy all along, like you and your partner are doing, but I wasn't working toward a goal because I pretty much abandoned hope at about the 4-month point. Once she got to point of taking steps downhill though, it seemed that progress accelerated. Before that, as I always say, I could Maybe, Possibly, if I really Stretched my imagination, think PERHAPS I saw a little progress about every 6 weeks. I can't even say we proceeded on faith. Honestly, we proceeded on auto-pilot. We just kept doing therapy with no goal in sight. There wasn't anybody telling me we were getting anywhere. There wasn't anybody saying to keep doing it, you're accomplishing something. I didn't know a soul whose dog walked after 9 months. We just kept doing it mindlessly more out of habit than anything. I figured the exercise was good for her, I didn't think she was going to walk.
The statistics for spinal stroke are so good that it would be very surprising if your dog didn't learn to walk.
I might want to give a slight word of maybe caution(?) about the way people can be. You probably already kind of know this, but anyway. It sounds like you are going to be going on a really nice vacation with extended family. People bring different life experience and different things that they were taught by their elders to any conversation. There are some who, with the best of intentions, according to their lights, may tell you that they don't agree with what you are doing. They may even feel they are speaking with your best interest, or the dog's best interest in mind. "A dog shouldn't live that way. You shouldn't spend the money. Just get another dog. It's too hard on you."
If you're really lucky, maybe someone will say, "I admire what you're doing. I'd do the same if it was my dog. I have a friend whose dog had a spinal stroke and coudn't walk and you should see him now!" So I hope you will be prepared for what might be either support or the opposite from well-meaning relatives. What you have been doing is hard, but it's not for nothing, and it seems like you've been doing all the best things for him. The swimming, and the sit-stands, and the PT appointments, all of it. Hopefully, if you have any relatives who are kind of negative about the whole thing, they will have the good grace to keep their opinions to themselves and eventually learn better when your dog proves them wrong. Some people will say this or that, because that is what they heard from their father or grandfather back on the farm in the old days, but times have changed, thank goodness.
Most of us, when we first get into this situation, have no concept of a slow recovery. I certainly didn't. We are used to an infection that is cured with 10 days of antibiotics, or a broken bone where they remove the cast after 6 weeks. It is a microwave world, but recovery from nerve injury is more like slow cooking. It occurs a tiny little bit at a time, in the background, often where you can't see it. Your dog is recovering a tiny bit more every day. Several people here have found that when it finally gets to a certain point, things seem to start falling into place somehow and then you see improvements occurring more quickly.
I hope this helps. I know you are gleaning information from multiple sources, which is good. Nobody can tell you what to do. Only you know what is best for your dog and your situation. I hope you'll have a good vacation. And if you want to reply to relatives' concerns at all, I would not hesitate to tell them there are different causes of paralysis, and a spinal stroke is one of the most likely to recover. The great majority of dogs with spinal stroke go on to lead normal lives.
If he couldn't move it before for 2 months and he can now, then that sounds like improvement and recovery to me. It is little things like this that are examples of the baby steps we talk about. They seem small when they happen one at a time, but they all add up and one day you look back and see how far you have come.pbj_33 wrote: ↑Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:56 am Like, Kujo has started to slowly move his tail. Very rarely, very new, but very much something. Am I taking a small sign like that as too much when looking at recovery? In the long run, his tail is not needed to walk but to see it move again makes me feel better! It makes me feel like some connections are being made but I can't help but wonder if I may be 'reaching'?
That is so true. Every last word. From no two dogs being alike, to our world being on "microwave time", you perfectly put things into a great perspective.
Today, I went on my lunch break & since my partner was off, I had assistance & could walk Kujo to the front yard in his sling! I will lead and Kujo follows, pulling my boyfriend like a bobsled.
We got out front and had let Kuj roam and sniff. He loves to stand in the wind and tilt his head upwards, like he's smelling the best food ever. We decided to head back in but Kujo decided not yet. He began to do his usual roll on his back. He loves to scratch himself in the grass, especially now (I imagine). Even with his back legs not moving themselves, he does the same full on, body roll- sliding though the grass on his back & nuzzling his head into it. While he did his own thing & we were admiring him enjoying himself, he began scratching his ear with his hind leg!!!
My partner & I literally both jumped up (we were crouched down) & screamed. From excitement and shock, honestly. Something so small and simple but also something that we haven't seen in over 2 months.
Our sudden movements and screams startled Kujo and he brought his leg back down, looking at us like he missed something. Seriously unaware of how BIG that scratch was.
We have slowly started seeing more movement in Kuj's tail amd got a very distinct "wag" last night when I got home and joined him on his papasan pallet! 3 loud thuds to the pillow got me to sit straight up and brought tears to my eyes.
Like you said, there will be many people who want to give you their opinion. Even when it isn't warranted. When we were in the very early stages of the onset paralysis, we were really unsure WHAT was going on, to be honest. We got that our baby wasn't walking, but a stroke? To a 4-year-old lab? I didn't even know that dogs had strokes! AT ALL!
My father, who I haven't been close with in years, reminded me exactly why that is. When raising my siblings and I, he always used "tough love" approach. Looking back, that was a family thing. His mom is the same way to him, etc. I wanted to cut that chord, break the chain, what ever.
He called me when we were in the 3rd week or so. We rarely text. Never speak on the phone. I normally wouldn't have answered but I did, for whatever reason. We talked about what I knew, what I thought, what I planned on doing, and so forth. It felt good to talk it out. After I finished, he simply said "I hope you remember how you were raised, never beat a dead horse."
I thought.. who are you to tell me how to raise a dog when you can't even raise a family! I immediately called my mom. She isn't one to discuss my dad but she is the best listener. She let me rampage and say all the horrible things I was thinking to say but didn't. She replied with something that I will always remember.
"It's a lot easier to leave something broken." It's easier to not go the extra mile, not cross our t's and dot our i's. Sometimes the worst thing you can do is not a thing and waste special time that was given to you. This struck a nerve in me. WHAT IF this time, that day, was all I had left with Kuj? Would I let my dads words echo in my head or roll off of my shoulders?
I wouldn't care. I don't. If you agree with what I'm doing- amazing!! RARE! Lets be friends (lol). Any and every ounce of advice or knowledge, please share. But kindly, if you disagree, buzz off. I simply do NOT care what someone else would do and didn't ask. Sadly, I had to announce that to someone I work with. Kindly. I don't ask how someone deals with their emotions of having a sick mother, because I can not relate. I can only give my condolences & wish them the best.
As harsh as that sounds, I can't grasps what they feel. I can try, I can be a listening ear or shoulder to cry on but what I cannot do is give my advice, tell her it will be ok, and say that I understand. That's how I view this situation. Not everyone's opinions are fact and not every fact applies to me. Kujo has never been JUST my dog. He will stay my child until I'm not around. Ask almost any parent what they want for their "child", something along the lines of 'nothing short of the best' should follow. That applies here. Even when the day comes for him to leave, I will always tell the tale of Kujo.
But thankfully, that day wasn't then and it has yet to come. When he was first diagnosed, I wanted any help I could get. Not "reading my audience" got my feelings hurt. Not everyone cares... honestly, its rare if they do. So, we don't talk much about WHAT is going on. We keep his improvements to ourselves. Obviously, we keep our small circle updated but other than the select few, no one knows.
We are not in any way ashamed of Kujo's condition. We love having people who'd usually see us doing our normal thing ask us what has happened. We enjoy sharing his story & gaining any information we can. At the very least, we get Kujo out of the house & share some light on the life after a doggy stroke.
We still give all the credit where its due, noting that you guys have been so helpful.
I am sorry about the (fill-in-the-blank) comment from your dad. I heard the most interesting inteview once. It was on a different subject, so I hope this makes sense. It was not talking about dogs or opinions on how to care for pets. It was talking about generations, and how one generation passes on the habits or ways of thinking to the next. It sounds like we're doomed to carry on the tradition that is handed down and instilled in us. But the person in the interview said that sometimes there is a "gap generation". In other words, for example, there might be a long family history of being harsh to children, but then a child comes along who recognizes it and decides to make a complete break and not carry that on. And they raise their own children very differently, with love and nurturing. They are the gap generation, breaking from the past. It sounds like a hopeful thing. Wish I could remember who it was that was talking about it.
Things are a lot better for handicapped pets now than they were even 20 years ago. I think to be fair, there was a time probably when the "take him behind the barn" solution was really the only option they had. Not always because they didn't care, but because there was a limit in vet care, a limit in knowledge of how to treat disability, etc., even if they wanted to. I don't remember any dog wheelchairs in the Sears Catalog. People did the best they could with what they knew at the time. But we have better options than people did 50 years ago.
Even now, sometimes options are out there but people can't afford them or they are not nearby. Which is why DIY is so helpful, like when you take Kujo swimming between PT appointments, like Caroline did with Buster and Joe did with Murphy in a horse therapy pool, and Pavla did with Sara in a lake, and Doc_Moore_J did with Koro in a lake (video with music!)
Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! for wagging tails and ears getting scratched. Sometimes dogs just don't know how magnificent they really are!