Life With a Paralyzed Dog

Do you wonder what life is like with a paralyzed dog?

If you’re like I was, you’ve probably never thought about what life with a paralyzed dog would be like.  When I got Cali,  I pictured her running around the house, playing in the yard, going on hiking and camping adventures, and running along the beach.  She was a perfect, healthy, playful, and rambunctious dog.  I never imagined she would suddenly become paralyzed and incontinent out of nowhere.  At first, it’s a shock.  You wonder what kind of life they will have.  How happy will they be?  Can I do it?

“Life with a paralyzed dog has been so rewarding.  Her zest for life is inspiring and contagious.  She’s taught me so much about overcoming obstacles with patience, perseverance, and a positive attitude.  I’m grateful to have her in my life.” 

Cali may have a degenerative disease, she may be paralyzed and incontinent, but she is still perfect.  She is still playful and rambunctious.  She scoots around the house and plays in the yard.  We still take her hiking and camping and she still runs along the beach and swims in the ocean.  She still enjoys life just like any other dog, we just have to do some things differently.  

So… what does life with a paralyzed dog look like?

She’s always excited to start the day…

 

Every morning when my alarm goes off, Cali’s little head pops up from the side of the bed where she sleeps in her bed on the floor.  I lean over to pet her and she excitedly gives me kisses to say good morning!  If I stay in bed she patiently waits, and any time I move, her little head pops back up to see if I’m getting up.  She’s just so excited for me to wake up!

 

Playing is her top priority…

 

She usually will greet you with her ball, hoping that you will throw it.  She’s always been obsessed with her ball.  She likes to place it in front of you, then grab it real fast before you can get it.  When you do get it, and throw it down the hall, she scoots after it so fast that her butt lifts up in the air!  She always wants to play.  Sometimes she will grab a sock and run away with it.  She playfully growls at you if you try to take it, it’s all fun and games with her.  Sometimes she likes to chase me around the house playfully nipping at my ankles.  She is surprisingly fast even without her back legs!

 

She’s always up for an adventure…

 

When I’m getting ready to leave the house, Cali starts getting excited.  She scoots around to find her collar, and brings it to me and swings it around.  When I go to put it on her she does a little happy dance and spins in a circle before she lets me put it on.  Then she starts jumping up and down, resembling a very happy baby seal.  I can’t help but laugh at her cuteness when she does this.  

 

It’s not always pretty…

 

Cali is incontinent, after all, so we have to regularly express her bladder.  Sometimes it’s messy, it’s always stinky, and it’s a little hard on my back.  I have to change dirty diapers and deal with poopy messes, especially after she gets excited.  Sometimes I have to get up early to give her a bath, or get up in the middle of the night to change her bedding.  But its something you get used to over time.  As you create a new routine you learn to avoid the messes as much as possible.  You become a pro at expressing their bladder, and it just becomes your new normal.  

 

I’ve become that crazy dog mom…

 

Suddenly I found myself buying baby diapers and wet wipes, changing dirty diapers, making vet appointments, taking her to a dog sitter (Andrew’s awesome mom).  One day it hit me, I am totally a special needs dog mom.  She really is my baby, and I love her like one.  She depends on me and I am completely devoted to making sure she is cared for and loved and living a great life.  I have embraced the dog mom role wholeheartedly.  

We are usually the center of attention now…

 

I’ve never been the one to want to be the center of attention, but I’ve kind of had to embrace that too.  Everywhere we go, people see her in her wheelchair and can’t help but stop to chat or say hello.  Everyone wants to know what happened to her and if she will get better.  Cali doesn’t mind, she loves the attention!  I use it as a chance to spread awareness about IVDD.  People tell me “It’s amazing what you’re doing.”  or “How awesome that you are taking care of her.”  but I just can’t imagine choosing any other way.  Cali is part of the family, and I would always do everything I can for her.  I love her.

 

We go on plenty of adventures…

 

Cali loves to play at the beach.  She runs around in her wheelchair, chases her ball, and even swims in the water with her wheels on!  We take her to the mountains to play in the snow, we take her hiking in our local canyons, and swimming in the bay.  Her wheelchair allows her to enjoy all of these things, just like any other dog.  

 

We are regulars at our local animal rehab center…

 

Every week, Cali looks forward to going to her rehab appointments.  She really enjoys it, and the yummy liver treats they have there.  We take her regularly for electro-acupuncture at the Animal Acupuncture and Rehab Center in San Diego.  Everyone there knows her well, and she jumps with excitement every time Dr. Sosna walks in the room.  They give us advice and exercises to do at home, and lots of encouragement.  We are all dedicated to working together to help Cali recover and have a great life.

 

Cali and I have an unbreakable bond…

 

Being paralyzed leaves you vulnerable.  When Cali looks at me I can see how much she loves me and trusts me.  She looks to me for everything and she knows that I will always be there and do my best for her.  She is so affectionate and always wants to be near me.  She trusts me completely.  I love her more than I ever knew I could love a dog.  She gives me a purpose and she makes me a better person.  She teaches me responsibility and how to love unconditionally.  I can’t imagine my life without her.

 

Paralyzed dog in a wheelchair sitting in owners lap

Life with a paralyzed dog is very rewarding.  Every single smile on their face is cherished.  Not a day is taken for granted.  You feel proud of yourself for overcoming such a hardship, and proud of your dog for being so strong.  Inspired by their perseverance.  It’s not always easy, but it is absolutely worth it.  I feel so lucky to have Cali in my life.  I wouldn’t trade her for any dog in the world.