Whisper is the elder stateswoman in our family. She is a Toy Poodle, fifteen years old and without question, the boss. Whisper has no teeth left, her tongue often hangs out, significant orthopedic challenges and is still one of the most elegant souls I know.
One Sunday in November she fell off the bed and dislocated her elbow, her right elbow. Whisper limped around and was obviously in pain. So I popped her in her travel bag and off we set for the Animal Medical Center several blocks away.
After a substantial wait, the on-call orthopedic veterinarian saw us. He x-rayed her leg, confirmed the diagnosis and offered the following advice: amputate or euthanize. WHAT????? Amputate would be impossible as her remaining limbs are in no way strong enough to support her body. Euthanize was out of the question. Neither was an option.
The following day I got on the phone and called two veterinary rehabilitation specialists to discuss the issue. Their opinions were positive, both offered possible options for Whisper’s recovery.
The following Wednesday we kept our appointment with Dr Hart, chair of Orthopedic Surgery at AMC. Surprisingly he suggested a long shot solution - immobilize her leg in a bandage and hope the scar tissue would grow around the joint and stabilize the elbow. I was thrilled.
And so we did. Bandage change every week. Whisper pretty much crippled but still enthusiastic about her role in our family and her food. Whisper came everywhere with me for she was unable to get around the apartment on her own. We were a team.
At one point, I was away for a week. When I returned home Whisper’s movement had slipped dramatically. More research revealed that, like us, if an animal does not use them (her legs), she will lose them (her legs). We upped our exercise regime of indoor and outdoor walks and she regained mobility.
I am delighted to say that last week the bandages came off. Despite a three month hair growth on her leg (we call her big foot), the elbow holds. Whisper is able to walk with a limp on non-slip surfaces. Each day we walk further outside and she is back to her resolute and uneven gait.
The professionals at AMC told me later they held their communal breath that Whisper would use her leg in any productive way. Today the team declared a full recovery; the vets were filled with surprise and delight.
Why is this story important beyond an inspirational healing over the odds? For me it is one of attitude and belief. There was never any thought of failure in my mind despite the many sad faces and dire predictions of the veterinarians. Dogs live in the moment so Whisper had no opinion one way or the other. For me, I was sure she would recover. I was able to participate in an interesting, often joyous, journey watching the process of healing.
As always, my dogs are my greatest spiritual teachers. Thank you Whisper!