If you’ve ever been through physical therapy to regain movement in a limb, you know it’s a loooong road to haul. The initial surgery is hard enough, but that’s nothing compared with the following weeks and months.
And it’s no different for dogs, except you can’t explain that no matter how hard it is, there’s a big payoff at the end.
This is Sammi, a Springer Spaniel who underwent surgery in 2008 to try to remove a bone growth that was pressing up against his spinal cord. The surgery wasn’t successful and, sadly, this 8-year-old pup became a quadriplegic — but his owner knew she had to do everything in her power to get him back on his feet again.
In March, she brought him to the California Animal Rehabilitation Center in Santa Monica, California, for an initial consultation. The therapists used cloth straps to hold him upright and cooed encouragingly, but all four paws dangled ineffectually above the floor, unable to hold up his weight.
That was the starting point these therapists had to work with, but they, like Sammi’s owner, weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. They started him on a physical therapy regimen aimed at strengthening his muscles to the point that they could support his body.
They were definitely baby steps, but this spaniel is as tough and determined as the crew working together to get him back on his feet. He goes from completely immobile to getting up into a sitting position, and from there, to a canine wheelchair that offers a non-weight-bearing way to whip his limbs back into shape.
Being able to run and play like he used to is motivation enough. But treats are always a good incentive, and nom-nom-nom, they’re so tasty!
Sammy was on the road to recovery! The wheelchair allowed him to gain even more strength and mobility in his legs, until he was able to walk with the therapists’ help.
With time, he gained enough confidence that he felt safe striking out on his own. He might not have been there quite yet, but look how far he’s come since March:
Way to go, Sammi! Want to see him run? Click the video below to see his owner’s tearful reaction when he trots up to say hello , completely unassisted, after nine grueling months of hard work.
There probably weren’t many people who believed Sammi would ever walk again, but see what happens when you have a strong spirit and dedicated team backing you up?