"Hello. My name is Beta. I am a dog. My friends call me Mister Beta. I am eight-and-a-half years old. My fur is black. I live with a man called Yogi who takes care of me. Over the last two years, I have visited and worked with the police, schools, a hospice, a mens’ shelter, and a hospital. That is because I am a Therapy Dog (with St. John Ambulance). I took two tests to be sure I was the right kind of dog for this job, and I passed them both.
I am a very strong dog and I love to run, but sometimes dogs like me have a weakness in their knees. Last year I tore my knee muscles on both sides and broke a tooth. So I had four surgeries, which was very interesting and changed my routine. Now I am off-duty as I do rehab exercises and acupuncture to get stronger. However, I am still practicing friendly service in my community as I look forward to coming back to work. I want to tell you about my helpers, people like Tania and Dr. Sasan.
Tania (Tania Costa, Canine Wellness, http://caninewellness.com) is the lady who handles my rehab. She uses laser therapy and measures my leg extensions. She teaches me special exercises which I do at her studio and then practice at home. When I visit her, I always get wet because we do treadmill-underwater training. I can feel my body getting stronger every time. She likes to give me treats which makes it more fun. Then I take a shower and shake off the extra water. Sometimes, when we have time, I roll in the grass across the street before I get back in the car.
When I hurt my neck, Tania suggested we see Dr. Sasan. Here’s what happened:
I had been visiting my friends when suddenly I felt very uncomfortable. I couldn’t lift my head and it was very hard to get into any position to lie down or sit or even stand because it hurt. I didn’t want to move at all.
We went to the Emergency Animal Hospital, where I was given something that put me into a deep sleep. I had an x-ray and more medicine to help the pain. But it didn’t work very well. And it was very hard to wake up. The emergency vet said I needed to have another surgery. I was very, very tired.
We contacted Tania. She sent us a note on the computer right away. She said that this would be a good time to meet Dr. Sasan, that he was a different kind of doctor, a holistic vet (Dr. Sasan Haghighat, North East Newmarket Veterinary Services, http://www.holistic-vet.ca). She said he would be able to help me. So we contacted him right away and went to his clinic. It seemed like we were in the car for a long time before we arrived at his office, but when we got there it was worth it.
Dr. Sasan was very gentle. His place was like home, calm and cozy. He spoke softly as he felt my neck and back, and told me that I was going to get better. He sat on the floor with me and said he was going to use a needle to make some special medicine just for me. There was talk about my food and rest and supplements and massage. I was very interested, and was looking forward to what this would be like. He said I might not need an operation after all and that he would help me to get stronger. I knew we were in the right place.
After Dr. Sasan checked me over, he gave me an acupuncture treatment. It was a relief – I felt better right away – still tired but with less pain – and I could lie down without crying.
On the car ride home, I took a nap. Then at home, over the next few weeks, I slept a lot. We took short walks and I played my “find” games indoors, so I knew I was getting stronger.
Sometimes I would still feel uncomfortable, like when the fire alarms would go off and my head would hurt. Or when I would bark and it would hurt my neck and shaking my head didn’t help. So we went back to Dr. Sasan and he sat with me again, treated me with acupuncture and gave me new medicine.
I saw Dr. Sasan and Tania several times in the months that followed, but I did not need to go to the hospital again. I am not allowed to run yet, but I am walking fast. I can stretch my neck without any pain, and I am ready to go back to work."
UPDATE: May 2014 – Beta is back to work with St. John Ambulance.
Prepared by Yogi Akal, on behalf of Beta Illustrations by Ute Kledt http://www.annaloog.de/