Every single day Zoe is getting a little bit better. Since my last post, we’ve been able to get her to start eating again! Her appetite has returned, thanks in part to the addition of some hypoallergenic wet food (mmm…). Granted, she only is willing to eat her gelatinous canned meat directly from my hands (a vegetarian’s dream), I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help her rebuild her strength.
Today has been Zoe’s best day yet; she really seems more like herself. We switched from icing her incisions to hot packing them, a change she seemed to welcome. Her cankles have subsided (can you imagine, the leggy Zoe with cankles?!) and while she’s still quite sore, she’s not as painful-seeming. Now that some of the swelling has subsided and thanks to her fancy haircut, it’s really clear how much leg muscle she’s lost. For who knows how long, she’s been relying on her upper-body strength. The good news is that today marks the beginning of 12 weeks of physical therapy where we can work to rebuild her muscle mass. Every two weeks, the program changes, so here’s what the first two weeks involve:
First, there are the “passive range of motion exercises.” Over the next two weeks, we have to do a series of exercises that involve slowly flexing her knees forward and backward (5-10 times). Because she was signaling to me that this was uncomfortable for her (a lot of nervous lip-licking/turning back and looking at me), I didn’t push it. Hopefully we’ll have better luck tomorrow. The second component of her rehab is the “weight shifting exercise.” That involves standing her squarely on firm footing, and slowly distributing her weight evenly between both her legs, hough never putting all her weight on either injured leg. This is a tough exercise for a dog who’s had surgery on both hind legs, but her surgeon said that we should still try a modified version of it. I’m terrified of hurting her, so I also took it easy on her today.
After getting through the parts she didn’t like, I got to reward her with the third element of physical therapy: walking! Starting today, we are required(!!!) to do slow, short leash walks 5-10 minutes, 2-3 times daily. In addition to mixing up the rehab exercises, we get to increase the length of the walks every two weeks.
It won’t surprise anyone that Zoe was delighted to be outside. Her tail was wagging and she was even doing a modified version of her prance. Believe it or not, she was even trying to pull me. Fortunately, all that time we spent working on “watch me” really paid off because I was able to use it as a means of slowing her down. The best part was that she was just so happy. As I’ve said before, walking is such an integral part of Zoe and my life together
, so the feeling was mutual.
Beyond learning how resilient Zoe is, this experience has also made me realize how many caring people K. and I have in our life. From phone calls, get-well cards, gifts, messages, hugs, prayers, emails, and even dog-sitting, many, many people have been there for us. I truly feel like people understand that to love us is to love Zoe. We are so grateful for the support.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.