As we enter the fourth week of Chickenbone's recovery from emergency spinal surgery, I have a few hopeful things to report.
Last week after giving him a bath in the kitchen sink, I sat down on the living room floor to finish toweling him off. For one split second I relaxed my grip on his body, and before I knew it the HALF-PARALYZED DOG skittered on his front legs across the floor and flung himself headfirst into his old dog bed. The one that has sat empty for three weeks while he has lived in his crate. It was the most unbelievable thing - the little rascal was just so damned FAST. And when he hit that cushion, he began wriggling around joyously and wrapping himself up in his little blankets. You could almost imagine that he had been eyeing that bed from behind bars every single day, just waiting for the opportunity to make his great escape. After so many unhappy days, it was thrilling to see him act like his old self again. Here is the triumphant Chickens relaxing in his bed:
The other cool thing is REALLY cool: Sal's parents, who are two of Chickenbone's favorite people in the world, came over for a visit this weekend. And when they walked in the front door, that freaking dog wagged his tail.
HE WAGGED. HIS TAIL.
Now, it was the sorriest, most pathetic wag you ever saw. Especially if you knew how he wagged it before, when his tail was a springy little curl that popped up above his back. This new wag was fairly limp, and the curl is mostly gone, but who cares? It wagged, man. And wagging was not even within the realm of possibility two weeks ago.
I was really bummed that Sal didn't see this (and a bit fearful that I imagined it) but Chickens wagged it again today when we visited the vet for a post-op checkup. We got a pretty good report, all things considered. No miracles yet - he still can't walk, and he still needs help going to the bathroom. But in addition to the wagging tail, the vet also detected some small movement in his back left leg. So small we could barely see it, but it's there.
It may not seem like a lot to get excited about, but very slow progress was something we were warned about from the start. Chickens isn't even halfway through his two-month initial recovery period, so we still have lots of time for more improvement. Now, since he is in no pain and his surgery wounds have healed up, our focus is less on crate confinement (though he still needs to stay in there most of the time) and more on rehabilitation. Each day we will continue doing range-of-motion exercises, as well as sling-walking him in the back yard, encouraging him to pee on his own, and even doing water therapy in the bathtub.
So, pretty good news, no? Let's see how the next four weeks go. Even if improvements continue at this exact rate, we'll be overjoyed. And hey, maybe Chickens and Mia will learn how to walk together! AWWWW!