Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I haven't posted to this blog in a long, long time. Bad blogger. I've been incredibly busy. Thanks to my brother for stepping in, as I'm sure he will again very soon, with news of their new arrival.

In the meantime, I do have something I've found fascinating, that I can blog about. First, you'll need some background: In 2001 I adopted a beagle named Andrea. We knew nothing about her except her name, that her previous owners had kept her tied by a rope in their yard, that she had frequently escaped, and that they dumped her at the Halifax Humane Society because the police were threatening to fine them if she escaped again. Oh, and we knew one more thing her previous owners didn't mention, but was very clear: At some point, probably during one of her escapes, she had been hit by a car and had her right front shoulder and elbow shattered. But this hadn't been treated, and so by the time I saw her, she held that leg tucked under and walked on just the remaining three.

The first thing I did was take her to a Veterinary Orthopedic Surgeon, who thought that it might not be too late to operate to reverse the injury. So Andrea went under the knife. But after she was opened up, the doctor saw that the injury was too old, and there was too much scar tissue to be able to do anything. So she sewed Andrea back up, and my poor girl spent the next forty-five days confined to her kennel -- hard on a free spirit like her -- even though she wasn't any better as a result.

The doctor went on to suggest amputation. I asked why. The doctor said, "Well, that has to hurt," but I disagreed. Andrea used her hurt leg to paw at me, to dig holes (she dug some seriously deep holes), and for other things besides walking. Also, there would be yet another forty-five days confined to the kennel, and I just couldn't bring myself to put her through that again so soon.

Fast forward eight years: We have no idea how old Andrea was when she came to live with me, but the doctors guessed between two and four, so now she's between ten and twelve. Getting on in years for a beagle. And while I didn't notice the day-by-day, gradual passage of change, even I have now noticed that Andrea's hurt leg bothers her more than it did in 201. She tucks it tighter against her chest and never uses it for anything. Once again I thought about amputation, but once again I find it hard to bring myself to that, now because of her age. So I was torn about what to do. Until one day I was at the vet's office and I noticed that one of the doctors there is also a certified veterinary acupuncturist.

Veterinary acupuncture? Really?


Being open-minded about Eastern modalities (I'm a Reiki practitioner myself), it occurred to me that Andrea might find some relief from acupuncture. We had a consultation with Dr. Craig, the acupuncturist. Dr. Craig said she was afraid she wouldn't be able to restore "full use of the leg" to Andrea. I was dumbfounded that she even considered it, and pointed out that if surgery eight years ago had been unable to restore the leg, acupuncture at this point was unlikely to do so. "All I want," I said, "is for her to find some relief."

"I can do that," said Dr. Craig.

I wasn't expecting miracles, but after just her second acupuncture treatment, Andrea was going out into the yard (there's a little step-down going out the door), and she actually set her right front foot on the ground to help steady herself!

That didn't really happen, I told myself.

But it did. Because she continued to put that foot down to steady herself every time she went out for the next several days.

Wowsers! She hasn't placed that foot on the ground in years!

She had her third treatment yesterday. We'll see how it goes. But so far, I've been amazed.

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