NOTE: This program may be cut without your support! Please read about the 2018 Tripawds Summer Fundraiser for details.
Free Canine Rehab for Tripawd Saint Bernard Chief
Chief is a 5-year old Saint Bernard with his front right leg amputated due to osteosarcoma. For the first 48-hours after his procedure, Chief remained in the care of Colorado State University where he began to stand, walk and even run when taken outside! He was doing so well, the onsite physical therapist was able to demonstrate a few simple exercises we could practice at home. We left Colorado for our home in Utah feeling extremely positive that life on three legs would not be an issue, but the next morning woke to a completely different dog. He had suddenly lost the motivation to stand, walk, or even to go to the bathroom, let alone have the desire to practice his exercises, but we pushed through.
The next few days were sprinkled with amazing moments and breakthroughs, often sandwiched with tears and frustration on how I was going to get my 130-lb dog outside. Turns out the answer was peanut butter, patience, practice, and some tough love. Just 3-mins of standing at this time a break through, and I felt grateful that I was equipped with small exercises to do during this tough period. Although they felt small, I am confident they were a huge factor in how well he is moving today.
After a few weeks, I felt Chief was ready for additional rehabilitation and he had his first consult at the Utah Pet Rehab and Acupuncture Center in Salt Lake City. Dr. Shawna McCall and the entire team were there to greet Chief and made rehab feel like a game! The first portion of the appointment was spent learning what exercises I could practice with Chief at home. I appreciate how customized the exercises were dependent on his size, activity level, and an unfortunate partial year to his back ACL. Exercises included methods to improve range of motion, mobility, strength, and endurance.
Here is a list of some of our favorites Exercises:
Range of motion – Shoulder & Hip Extension: With dog lying on side, bring the limb gently forward & back. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Backyard walking – Entice dog to take steps backyard, starting with 10 feet, 3-5 times.
Weight shifting – While standing (or laying down) bring treats to dog’s side to encourage weight shifting and spinal mobility. Repeat 5 times.
Loving on the stairs – Dog places front paws on elevated surface to improve rear leg weight bearing. 15-30 seconds at a time.
Rhythmic Stabilization – While standing, apply a gentle forces to various areas of their body and then quickly in the opposite director to improve core strength. This is a great one to do whenever we are standing around!
Through practicing these exercises together a couple times a day, I have really enjoyed the one-on-one time we have been sharing.
The second portion of his appointment was 20-minute hydrotherapy session. I was very excited for this, not only because it helps to perfect his Tripawd gait, but he has always loved swimming and feel much more confident allowing him in water again – which is great therapy itself!
I would be lying if I didn’t say his recovery was an emotional roller coaster, but I am so thankful for the Tripawds community for both support, guidance, and for the opportunity to share Chief’s story in hopes to help someone else in the future. Each day, Chief gets stronger and begins acting more and more like himself. In a few days we will begin physical therapy and my tough guy will get to return to his favorite activity – swimming. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on my account with username ‘Chiefsmom’.
~ Natalie and Chief (aka: chiefsmom)