It was 7:30 AM on a Saturday morning when Crockett’s owner called me from New Hampshire to beg for an appointment that day to see his dog. Crockett, a 14 year old 90 lb. yellow lab, was down – unable to stand on any of his four legs. The vet had advised him to let him go…..he was too big to be a down dog, and he hadn’t urinated in over 24 hours.
Mr Greenwell showed up here 3 hours later. We brought Crockett in on a stretcher and laid him down on a mat. The first thing Crockett did was urinate all over the floor and wag his tail in relief. Well, at least the plumbing was working – kidneys were making urine, and Crockett could wag his tail. He was also very interested in treats. I agreed with Mr. Greenwell that Crockett did not appear to be at death’s door – his eyes were bright and he seemed to be enjoying all the attention we were giving him. Erika McElwey, our canine rehab person, advised Mr Greenwell to get some bloodwork – specifically checking for low thyroid or tick-born disease. He agreed to do so; but what could we do to help Crockett through this crisis?
We decided to rent him our adjustable clinic quad cart for a month. After adjusting the cart for Crockett, we hoisted him into it and he wagged his tail, but dragged all four of his feet. Whatever! At least Mr Greenwell would have a way to get him up and standing and be able to take him outside to do his business.
We didn’t know if we were renting out a cart for hospice or healing, but at least whatever time he had left would be a good time.
Imagine our surprise then, when Mr Greenwell called 3 weeks later to tell me that Crockett was walking on his own in the wheelchair and getting stronger every day.
This makes you wonder how many dogs are euthanized prematurely simply because no one could manage caring for a large non-ambulatory dog. How many of these dogs would recover if given the ability to get up and go outside to relieve themselves, sniff the air, and be taken for a walk?
Mr Greenwell was eager to share Crockett’s progress with us. Did I think that he could come back and try him out in a rear wheel cart? Of course!
Crockett amazed us with his spunk and energy. He moved the quad cart around the parking lot, peed on his own, and spent some time playing in the snow with Brady, our resident yellow lab, owned by office manager, Lisa Downing.
We happened to have a used variable axle cart the right size for him on hand. We adjusted the balance to take the maximum amount of weight off his front legs and put an additional belly strap under his core. As Crockett gains strength, his dad can move the wheels back to let him carry more weight on his front legs. Here’s Crocket on the road to recovery: