I’ve been talking with the veterinarian running the clinical trial at Mizzou and am still in the process of sending over all of the pre-requisites to see if Molly is eligible. It’s been pretty intense. They need several different X-Rays, MRI scans, blood work/serum for testing, an abdominal ultrasound, a referral letter from the neurologist, etc. I won’t even say how much all of this is costing just to see if she is going to be able to participate. I also spoke with the neurologist again last week and he told me to really level set my expectations for this study. That this is a disease we’ve failed to find a treatment for in humans or dogs and is all still very experimental. He said I should go into this with the mindset that this research may benefit future dogs, but not necessarily Molly.
It’s pretty disheartening to hear, obviously. That said, he didn’t think we had anything to lose by participating in this trial as long as we didn’t mind driving a few hours to Mizzou and as long as Molly did okay with it, so I’m still working to at least get down there and talk with these people and will go from there.
It does seem like she is getting slightly worse each day, which makes it extra hard to wait while all these tests are being completed and analyzed. In the meantime, I’ve been talking with another veterinarian that I work with, and she gave me some great pointers for physical therapy I can do with her at home. Here are the exercises she recommends:
-A short warm up walk of 3-5 minutes or so
-2 sets of 10 sit to stands (basically making her sit and stand up–doggie squats–10 times in a row)
-2 sets of 10 Biscuits to the hip, left and right side. This is where you have a treat and have her follow it with her nose to her left hip and then to her right hip
-2 sets of 10 biscuits up and down. She follows the treat with her nose up towards the sky and then down to the ground.
-2 sets of 5 3-legged stands for 10-15 seconds. You pick up one back leg and make her balance on 3 legs, hold for 10-15 sec, rest for a couple and then start again. Repeat 5 times and then do the other rear leg.
-Walk in figure-eights 10 times in each direction
-Rock her booty back and forth gently to get her to shift weight back and forth between her hind legs, 15-20 times
-A short cool down walk for as long as she’d like without getting too tired
-Nightly massage of her front paws, rotating them in small circles. As their hind legs weaken they put a lot more pressure on their front legs to make up the difference.
Molly is a rare breed of a dog who is not at all food motivated, which makes some of the “biscuit” tricks difficult, but we found a few workarounds to accomplish those movements without using food. We have been practicing and I think we will get into a good routine soon. I will say I’ve learned it’s important to ease into these exercises. I went full force with these and she started cramping up really bad and could barely walk the next day. I was in full panic mode thinking overnight she completely lost her ability to walk, but she regained strength over the next day or so. So now we just alternate a few of the different exercises vs trying to do all of them every day.
We also went to our first physical therapy session at VSS. She walked on the underwater treadmill for 15 min and did pretty well! She was really nervous at first and was clawing to get out, but eventually she got used to it. It sounds like this is probably the best form of physical therapy you can do since it’s low impact on their joints etc. My goal is to take her there once a week and do the other exercises intermittently.
Aside from that I’m just trying not to be hyper focused on every slip and trip. It’s hard not to react to every misstep but I think it’s important to act as normal as possible and not fall apart in front of her. She’s still a very happy, sharp and energetic girl so we are trying to maximize every day for her while she’s still able to run and play.
On a happy note – some of our friends reached out to see if we wanted to do a little party for Molly to celebrate her life and come love on her. It was such a blast. People brought all kinds of fun gifts from toys to homemade dog treats and essential oil blends for her paws. It’s been so amazing to have a strong support system in our friends & family who all love dogs as much as we do and who want to help us show Molly how much she is loved. A few fun pictures from the party:
Thank you so much again for all of the love and support as we navigate through this!