This month one of our regular K9 Swim member’s, Madalin Bell shares her story about her dog Chloe. How love, support and Hydrotherapy is giving quality and fun to Chloe’s life as a paraplegic dog.
Chloe Wasn’t Always a Paraplegic
Born on the 9th of July 2008 Chloe recently celebrated her 8th birthday last month.
Chloe became part of our family when I received her as a late 11th birthday present and reward for doing well in school and behaving myself. My mum had gone to the shops to get some groceries and came back about an hour later with something moving around in her jacket. Much to my delight it was Chloe, the puppy I had been nagging for! She was so small that she could fit in my hand and looked like a little ball of black and white fluff with a fat bottom bigger than the rest of her. That fat bottom would sway from side to side when she walked. It looked so cute!
It didn’t take her long to become part of our family. She has always been social, curious and full of energy. She would follow everyone around and always wanted to know what everyone was doing. Chloe is so small, only ever weighing 3.5kg but it’s the size of her personality that makes her boss of our house. I’m sure she will always be the boss here.
Chloe Paralysed Through an Injury
In September 2014, my little sister Ruby was born and our house flipped upside down with a change in sleeping patterns. Chloe had to sleep in my room due to her midnight barking habits.
On November 4th 2014, Chloe was let out the back to go to the toilet and I was running late for school. Things were so hectic with a new baby and we all just rushed out of the house that day, forgetting Chloe was still out the backyard. All day I had a strange, sick feeling that something was wrong, so I went home early. When I arrived home Chloe was not there to greet me as she had always done. I searched the house for Chloe but I couldn’t find her anywhere. It was then I remembered that I had left her out the backyard. I quickly ran out the back and whistled but only our two other dogs Ammo and Xena came running. Still no Chloe, I started a perimeter check for any escape routes. It was then that Chloe came running out from underneath our caravan dragging her back legs. I freaked out, I didn’t know what to do or how to react. I just picked her up and ran inside to call my mum. After getting no answer I just wrapped Chloe in a towel and ran to my local vet, which is luckily only a five minute drive from our house.
I was a mess when I arrived at the vet. I had been crying and was puffed from all the running and I didn’t even know what to tell them. The vets were fantastic and took us in straight away, I called my mum and finally got an answer and she came right down. The vet said it could have been either one of two things, a ruptured spinal disk from a fall or she was hit with something or by someone. The tests to give proper diagnosis would cost far too much for us. She was paralysed and tests would not change that. Chloe was admitted to hospital for the next few days on pain medication.
The Decision is Life
On the 7th of November,2014 the vet recommended to have Chloe put to sleep because of the quality of life she would have as a paraplegic dog. We chose against their decision and brought Chloe home because we felt she was the same dog and although she was a paraplegic now she was not in any pain. It was up to us to commit to her quality of life.
Chloe Comes Home
Chloe was back home and needed care around the clock. I also had my HSC to study for, so it took some time to work out a routine. Chloe now had to wear a nappy which through the night would often come off and so I would be up bright and early to start cleaning the mess. After washing Chloe, changing her nappy, give her food and water, washing her blanket, mopping my bedroom floor, it was time to get ready for school. Then when I arrived home from school I would have to do this all over again. It was an exhausting cycle. It took us some time to work out what size nappies would stay on Chloe all day. Just recently, we tried newborn suits which work an absolute charm!
Love and Support Gives Chloe Quality of Life
Our family was not in the best financial position and we were so worried about how we could provide what she needed. We decided to post an ad on Gumtree asking for people for help with supplies such as extra blankets, nappies, puppy pads, etc. Amazing people came forward to help, donate and support us and a special thanks to Kath and Chrissy Schultz from Queensland who have been incredible with sending Chloe beautiful care packages of coats, collars and even a doggy pram and wheels! All these donations have been a life saver for Chloe. Before Chloe had her wheels we couldn’t take her outside and the few times we did, she grazed her back legs on the cement so she couldn’t go anywhere with us. Her wheels gave her mobility again and it didn’t take long to get use to them as she now powers along.
We started a Facebook page for Chloe- Chloe the Paraplegic Pup , as we had so many people wanting to help and messaging us and supporting our decision to not put her to sleep. We are all so thankful to everyone that has supported and helped Chloe and our family to get through this and give Chloe a good quality of life.
Hydrotherapy so Beneficial for Chloe
Recently Chloe rapidly lost a lot of weight, from 3.5kg down to 2.5kg. I met Sharon Osmond at TAFE when I was studying for my Certificate II in Animal Studies. She was my TAFE teacher and I asked her about K9 Swim and if there was anything that she could recommend for Chloe. After visiting with our vet and deciding that it would be beneficial for Chloe to swim and after taking some blood tests and ruling out any other underlying conditions, we changed Chloe’s food to higher protein and fat content and started swimming with Sharon at K9 Swim. Sharon was absolutely fantastic with Chloe and showed me how to swim her myself. Although Chloe wasn’t a big fan of swimming at first, she now loves her weekly swims at K9 Swim. She is already benefiting from the Hydrotherapy and I hope in a couple more weeks we may see some movement in her back legs. I wish we had known about K9 Swim earlier as we had only known of more expensive Hydrotherapy options, out of our budget and area.
Chloe is gaining weight and looking healthier than ever. She has more energy and is really enjoying herself. I hope that we can spend many more years with our little Chloe and one day even see her stand on her own again, thanks to swimming.
Thank you Madalin for your story on Chloe. It is very encouraging to others that may be in the same situation. When I met Madalin in my class at TAFE we talked about Chloe and then she brought Chloe to class one day. After I assessed Chloe and discussed her history with Madalin we agreed that Chloe would benefit from Hydrotherapy. Madalin talked to her vet and got the all clear. Chloe wasn’t a great fan of swimming at first, but since she has been coming weekly. I feel she looks forward to it.
Hydrotherapy to a paraplegic dog feels good. They are buoyant in the water and for that time they can let their limbs relax and the spine becomes neutral. Chloe can stretch out in the warm water of our pool which promotes blood circulation throughout the muscles and body. I have seen improvement with Chloe in that she appears happier, has more energy and her muscle tone is improving. The other important aspect of Hydrotherapy is that it is a great mental stimuli. We enjoy Madalin and Chloe’s visits and we are moved by Madalin’s commitment to this wonderful little dog.
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Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.