Denny and Charlie (and the rest)
It started with OnePug...

AquaPaws–Underwater Treadmill for Dogs!

Friday, 6 April 2012 17:50 by robbi

When we decided we wanted to try laser therapy for Denny, I had to do some research to find one near us.  Our local vet didn’t offer it and the Rescue Vet that does is an hour away.  We were hoping to find someone local.  The Rehab Vet that we did find is only about 35 minutes from us, so multiple appointments in a week are possible without cutting too much into our work life.

The Rehab Vet we found listed a slew of services that I didn’t think we would be using.  One of those is Aquapaws.  It’s an underwater treadmill.  They have two of them – one for dogs and a larger one for horses!  Apparently this vet sees a ton of horses.  In Houston – who knew?

Anyway, I wasn’t very familiar with the underwater treadmill and I didn’t think it was anything that Denny could benefit from.  But it turns out that it has been exceedingly beneficial.  He has gained muscle strength and stamina through these sessions.  And while he doesn’t really like them (he hates getting wet) we know it’s worth it to continue them while we are seeing such good results.  We bribe him with a laser therapy session when he’s done and that seems to keep him happy.

I took Denny for his latest session this Thursday.  I tried to get some photos of the machine and his session, but I was obviously moving too much and they’re kind of blurry.  I’m going to post them anyway, so you can get an idea of what this is all about.

This is a shot of the machine.  There’s a ramp that the dog walks up (though Denny usually gets carried.)  The door is then closed and sealed shut and the water is pumped in. 

Treadmill filling with water

The vet tech stands with her feet on either side of the treadmill to watch over Denny while he’s walking.  He’s wearing a harness here – the first few sessions he wore a life jacket and hated it so badly that they’ve switched him to this.

Note the ears are down :-(

And then this is my view for the next few minutes.  I’ve watched him each session.  The first one he skipped a few times and didn’t always use all 4 paws.  He now goes the entire time without dragging back legs or missing a step.  His time has also been increased and he now does 5 1/2 minutes.  I’m so proud!

Treadmill Time

After it’s all over, he gets dried off with a towel and taken into one of the rooms for his laser treatment.  By the time she’s done with that, he’s mostly forgiven us.

Denny waiting patiently for his Aquapaws followed by his"spa treatment" of laser therapy.

Love that boy! 

A Week Away

Thursday, 29 March 2012 18:43 by robbi

We’re back!  We took a few days off and headed out of state for some much-needed R&R.  We spent a glorious week in beautiful North Carolina, one of my favourite states. 

Falls Lake

It was lovely and we hated to leave, but by the end of the trip we missed our furkids so badly that we were anxious to be home.  Without question, our first night back was the best night’s sleep either one of us had all week.  It was lovely to be in our own bed, covered by snoring pugs.  Even Munch made a point to hop up on the bed for a bit.  Heaven!

Undoubtedly, one of the things that allowed us to relax and enjoy ourselves was knowing that our furkids were being well looked after back here.  We never board our guys – Denny has only ever slept in a kennel when we made the crossing on the Queen Mary.  Instead we have family or friends come house-sit/pug-sit.  It’s a lot to ask someone, but we are fortunate enough to have the perfect people to help us out.  Richard’s parents watched the house & kids last year when we took a trip.  But usually it’s our good friend Auntie Cindy who looks after the brood.  She loves these guys and they absolutely adore her! 

Thankfully she also has the patience of a saint to put up with my 2-page (single spacing) set of instructions for the care of our guys.  I don’t think I’ve bothered to tell her where the fuse box or fire extinguisher for the house is, but I’ve detailed each animals food, supplements, medications and elimination regime.  I’ve also spelled out idiosyncrasies in their behavior & routine so that she is aware that Denny likes to sit on the sofa arm to watch telly at night and Maggie hides in a donut bed under Richard’s desk during thunderstorms. 

Lord only knows what she thinks when she starts reading these things!  But she says she doesn’t mind at all and manages to not roll her eyes at me whilst I’m standing there, so I don’t feel so silly.  Meanwhile, every time we go away we are satisfied that they are in the best possible hands. And every time we come home the furkids are healthy and happy.  We are very lucky indeed!

Quick Update

Thursday, 15 March 2012 23:59 by robbi

I wanted to give a little update about Denny’s progress with therapy.  He met with his rehab vet this week who gave him an acupuncture treatment and chiropractic adjustment.  She evaluated his back and leg strength and was pleased to report that she sees definite strengthening in his muscle tone.  She advised us to continue with the AquaPaws therapy twice a week for a couple more weeks and then see her again. 

But the best news (definitely as far as Denny is concerned) is that she says he can start going for walks again!  At first he’ll need to start slowly, just 5 minutes at a time, but over the next few weeks she wants us to add time and get him moving more! 

I can honestly say I agree that his muscle strength has improved.  He generally holds his back end up a bit better, though he definitely has some bad days.  His actual walking hasn’t really improved much, but we are seeing less of the “knuckling under” that we saw a couple of months ago.

I have watched him walking in the underwater treadmill with each session and I have seen real progress.  He no longer “skip” steps with his back right leg.

He still has a very long way to go and he may never be as good as we’d like.  But it is nice to see some sort of progress.

Small Sacrifices

Tuesday, 13 March 2012 23:48 by robbi

It’s funny how things become “normal” simply because you adjust your routine and expectations. We’ve made several small changes to our home environment over the past couple of months and now it’s hard to remember how things were before.

For instance, about a year and a half ago we spent a fortune (and a week camped out upstairs) having our downstairs floors resurfaced. We had the disgusting laminate ripped out and a combination of stone and wood floors installed. Stone was put in at the entryway as well as the kitchen/breakfast nook. Hickory wood flooring was installed in the dining and living room as well as Richard’s office. We were thrilled with the results.

A couple of months ago, we put an area rug in the living room. Maggie kept jumping off the sofa and the hard wood was causing her difficulty. And Denny seemed more secure walking on the rug. Then we put a runner down to partially cover the area from the entryway to the breakfast nook, giving Denny an area in the middle that was more secure to walk on. Then a second runner was put down to make a more complete walkway through the living room so that Denny never had to touch the wood. Then a throw rug went down in Richard’s office, so there was more area for him to walk without slipping.

We stopped Denny from trying to climb the stairs around the time he had his surgery on his spine. We started carrying him up at night when it was time for bed. We’ve continued this but now that we’re concerned about not giving his back the proper support when we carry him, we have started to have him lie down in a donut bed and us carry his bed up. He’s even now to the point that we drop the bed at the foot of the stairs and he climbs in, awaiting his serfs to carry him up for the night. Oh yeah, he’s enjoying that bit!

The thing is, we’ve been through all sorts of things with several dogs over the past few years. Alfie didn’t see too well and never got used to the stairs, so we carried him up every night. He slept between us so he wouldn’t fall off the bed. He was often sick on the bed, so we started putting a towel down in front of him for easy clean up.


When he stopped eating we started syringe feeding him. Every morning before leaving for work and then again when we got home. As his condition deteriorated we would add crushed pills to the mixture. Then daily injections. And then eventually I was giving him IV fluids. It became so routine that when we lost him I felt lost myself. What would I do with all this extra time I suddenly had? It always felt like there was something I should be doing.

Sammy would never have been able to manage stairs either so he was carried as well. He also had to sleep with his head slightly elevated, so I got used to him sleeping in the crook of my arm with his head on my shoulder. I’d often have to adjust him during the night to make sure his airway was open. And of course there was the copious amounts of drool & phlegm he shared with me during the night. Sometimes it would get too much for him and we’d have to get up in the wee hours to go turn the vaporizer on to thin it out. Many was the night I’d nearly fall asleep on the spare bathroom floor while holding him towards the steam.

Samson n Frog 4-7-08

I walked around the house holding him often, giving gentle taps to his back to help break up the congestion. I seemed to always have a towel around my shoulder to catch the drool. I’d laugh and compare myself to a mom with a colicky newborn. It became routine. And then when we lost Sammy, I again felt lost. Life around the house was too “simple.”

I miss both of those boys very much and would gladly go back to doing whatever routine I needed to do in order to have them here with us.

My point is not to dwell on our past losses or heartaches, but to acknowledge that sometimes you just have to crack on and deal with stuff. You adjust. You conform. You do whatever it takes to make life the best it can be.

I remember reading an interview with a woman who was a cancer patient. She said she got so tired of people telling her how brave she was. She said she wanted to scream at them that she wasn’t brave – she just didn’t have a choice. She was the hand she was dealt and she had to get on with trying to live her life.

The joy and happiness and love that these furkids have brought to our lives cannot be measured. Our lives would’ve been so empty without them. So whatever we have to do now, and whatever we have to do in the future, it is totally worth it. And after all, it is part of the commitment we made when we brought them into our lives. I suppose that is the most frustrating part about being involved in a Rescue. So many people don’t take that commitment seriously. The sheer stupidity of people who contact us with their pathetic excuses as to why they want to abandon their dog is sickening. The dog was never really a member of their family. They didn’t really love it unconditionally. It was an amusing distraction for a while and now they’re bored of it and ready for a new toy. If that weren’t the case, then they would find a way to make it work.