Life with a disabled / special needs dog is all about the baby steps. Everything is measured in the smallest improvements and they take place over months (and I suspect years) instead of hours or days.
When we first brought Karma home for her ‘trial’ period to see if our home would work with her disability, both my husband and I had doubts. We spent a lot of time and effort making our home “Karma safe” so she wouldn’t hurt herself. When she wasn’t able to get up our (human) disabled ramp, we tried several different things before we finally found that the stick-on grit strips would give her the grip she needed to get up easily… and something she wouldn’t eat!
Of course we thought a lot about what we thought she just wouldn’t ever be able to do. She was still so weak and off balance when we had her for the first month that we had a running list of “she’ll never’s” and we had to be ok with them and determine how to help her through life with these limitations.
She’ll never be able to go up stairs… so we have to get her special side access into the back yard.
She’ll never be able to go up or down our steep driveway… so we’ll always have to carry her or take her in the car.
She’ll never be able to get in or out of the car by herself… so we have to lift her.
We’ll never be able to go for a walk with her like we could with a “normal” dog…. when we first took her to the park our goal was to get to the tree 20 yards away and back.
Well, now I know where the term dogged comes from – and whomever invented that word must have had a Staffy.
Every word on this list describes our special little girl. She falls a thousand times, and she never falters in bouncing straight back up again. She’ll run for her ball – and somehow smashes herself sideways into a tree five feet away…. we wince as we know it must hurt but she is focused and resolute in success and rarely do you see her pause. She has the biggest heart – and yes, she is extremely stubborn and strong-willed!
She’s had six weeks of healthy diet, daily exercise and massages (wait – sounds like the perfect life, doesn’t it!?) and the improvements have been ASTOUNDING.
She’s mastered all the stairs in and around our house with her steadfast dedication. Though up is easier than down — darn you, gravity!
She goes for short walks now and that includes carefully going down – and BOUNCING up our driveway!
She still needs help in and out of the car, but just in the last week she’s found the balance to sit up and look out the window! Nope, didn’t think she’d ever do that either.
She is just amazing, and we never say “she’ll never” again because she has such determination that we feel there is no limit to what she will be able to do in time.