Vets may not always have the answer

The morning after we got married, Melissa and

callie-winter

Callie enjoying a winter hike

I had a ton of little things to take care of. We had to make sure that all of our guests had checked out of the hotel, that they had boarded their flights or trains back home, we had a lot of cleaning up to do and most importantly, we had to bring Callie, our dog, to a friend’s house so that she would be taken care of while we were on our honeymoon.

Callie was about 5 at the time. We adopted her from a shelter when she was a 6-month-old pup. She had been abandoned when she was just a few months old and someone found her and brought her to the rescue where we were lucky enough to find her. She has since been part of our family and this was the first time we were leaving her for more than just a weekend. We drove her to Greg and Allie’s house. They have a great place in the country where all the dogs on the street roam off leach and go into each other’s yards and houses. They live right on the side of a mountain where Greg loves to take them on a hike. Callie already knew and loved Greg, Allie and their golden retriever Murphy, so we were confident that she would have just as much fun as we were going to have on our honeymoon.

Callie was used to getting about 2 hours of exercise everyday with us in the city. Often she was off-leash and we occasionally stopped by the dog park. Going for long walks with Greg wasn’t a problem but she was used to the city not the mountains. When we came back we noticed that she had a slight limp. Greg also had noticed it just the previous day. We thought she might’ve pulled a muscle and that she would be fine in a day or two.

The following week, she was still limping and it was getting worse. Our daily one-hour walks were cut down to 5 minutes. Not to mention that walking up and down the stairs to our third floor condo had become challenging.

Next, we did what most people would do: we consulted a vet. The first vet we went to thought that she may have broken something and ordered some x-rays. The x-rays came back negative. Nothing was broken. $400 later, the vet’s advice was that Callie simply needed to rest. For the next 2 weeks, Callie went outside strictly to do her business and nothing more. She was visibly restless and miserable but we thought it was the price to pay to get her healthy again.

We kept this up for another 3 weeks before we decided to go see another vet. Callie was still limping considerably and her condition hadn’t improved in the slightest. The second vet decided he needed to run some tests and that to do so, he needed to keep Callie overnight. At this point I should mention that Callie has an innate fear of veterinary offices. She begins to shake uncontrollably as soon as she walks through the door. I don’t know if it’s a smell that she recognizes, but even in an office she’s never visited she will begin to shake seconds after entering. That is why leaving her overnight at the vet’s office, alone was a terrifying thought to us.

All the tests came back negative. The vet, however, was very confident when he told us that Callie had arthritis. It wasn’t common, he said, for a dog this young, but it happens. He prescribed more medication and more tests. The whole ordeal cost another $700 and we left the vet’s office with a limping dog and more pills. He told us to avoid stairs and walking more than a few minutes.

One thing he forgot to mention was that the latest pills he prescribed had a particular side effect: she had to pee a lot! So now we are stuck going up and down 3 flights of stairs carrying a 60-pound dog about every hour.

Quick recap:

  • Multiple vet visits (at least 6)
  • Over $1800 spent on tests and medication
  • 5 months have gone by and Callie is still limping

Out of the blue, one morning, my wife tells me she heard about a dog therapist through a Facebook group she was following. She had visited the website (http://www.instituttherapeutiquecanin.ca/) which had limited information but the person who had recommended the service was a trusted reference. We have nothing to lose she said, so I called and made an appointment.

When I arrived, a man in a wheel chair who also happened to be mute greeted me. His name was Jacques and he was the therapist. I also noticed that Callie wasn’t shaking. He put Callie on a table and began prodding her. After about a minute, he told me he could help and to come back in 2 hours.

When I returned, Callie was all wet and Jacques explained to me what he thought the problem was and how he was going to help. His explanations consisted mainly of writing key words on scraps of paper and making hand gestures. It turns out Callie had a sprain in a muscle in one of her hind legs. Nothing was broken, she didn’t have arthritis and she didn’t need any pills. She needed 5 therapy sessions with Jacques. After the first session we saw a drastic improvement in her limp and by the third, it had completely disappeared. Jacques’ therapy involved putting Callie in hot and cold tubs (hydro-therapy), massaging, stretching and listening to her.   I wish we would’ve found Jacques sooner. Even though he’s not a vet, he is exactly what Callie needed!

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