On a walk after Thanksgiving dinner, Sadie Ward noticed that her 8-year-old dachshund Raven had become a little tangled in her leash. Since the event was not significantly unusual, Ward didn’t think much about it until Raven began losing control over her hind legs. Over the next few months, Raven’s primary care veterinarian treated her with weekly acupuncture and she began to steadily improve, but no formal diagnoses was made.
In early February, Raven began coming in to the Veterinary Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Services. There, Senior Veterinary Technician Kim Colvard spent eight one-hour sessions with Raven, performing therapeutic exercises and functional activities to help Raven’s neuromuscular system re-learn flexibility, strength, and balance. Colvard supplemented the sessions with exercises for Ward to do with Raven in between appointments. If Raven did not improve with rehabilitation, Colvard was prepared to refer her to the VMC's Neuology team for further diagnostics and treatment.
But in the rehabilitation room, Raven showed signs of recovery.
“Raven improved drastically over the course of four weeks,” says Kim Colvard, CVT, CCRP, who took charge of Raven’s care at the VMC, “far more than I could have ever imagined. She went from having only a slight ability to get up and walk, to being a dog that walks through the door to say hello to us before each appointment.” Colvard thinks that Raven may have benefitted from the confidence boost that comes with mastering the exercises she was doing during her rehabilitation appointments. It also helps that Raven is familiar with bouncing back from adversity.
“She’s a fierce little dog,” says Ward. “She was a puppy mill rescue and she has seen a lot.” Raven is estimated to have had three litters during her puppy mill days. Today, Raven loves pets, her “sister” Phoebe (a red long-hair dachshund), snuggling up in a soft blanket, and the treats she gets for performing various exercises with Colvard in the rehabilitation room.
Raven’s last session in early March reflected her progress—she was walking on the water treadmill without any assistance from Colvard. Going forward, Raven will live a normal dog life. Ward looks at her pet with pride: “She has made so much progress since I first got her.”