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The Great Gabby, Part 6: Little Donkey in Training

July 12, 2010

Working with Gabby for her therapy has been getting more and more difficult. Not because of the exercises themselves, or because of the time that it takes to do them (which is really not much at all!). The biggest obstacle has been that as she gets stronger, she has decided she has a say in the order and exactly which exercises we are doing!! Bicycle rotations? Gabby says “No thank you!” and locks her leg up as tight as she can. Leg extensions? “You must be outta your mind crazy lady, I’m going to tuck this leg up like a chicken wing and you’ll never get it loose!” How about grounding paws?  “I’m just going to kick back like a donkey until you leave me alone!”  It’s AMAZING how much stronger she has gotten.

She is still occasionally walking around the house but then she trips herself up. If you open the front door she will go to run outside, then her feet get tangled and she starts to scoot. After watching her, I realized her paws are crossing over or curling under. I tried using bandaids to keep them in place which helped and protected them from scrapes, but they aren’t very durable and at the same time I don’t want the bandaid to do the work, I need her to do it! I tried a pair of booties, but those turned her into a lump. There was no way she was going anywhere with those goofy shoes! I emailed another foster mom (Kim) who has another of our downed doxies (Max, who may be the sweetest dog in the world) and she said Max was the same way.  These dogs don’t like things on their feet, but they need something to protect them while still encouraging the dog to rely on their own strength.  This is a puzzle that I’m wracking my brain over because I feel like there has to be a really simple solution that is eluding us.

Also, for as strong as her legs are during therapy, her back muscles don’t seem to be re-strengthening at the same rate. She is very muscular across her shoulders and in her legs, but her midsection doesn’t seem to be re-strengthening. I reviewed the exercises from the therapist and they say what each step is used for and none of them discuss that particular part of her body (which doesn’t mean that they won’t help, but maybe they aren’t 100% geared to that particular part of her body?). I’m hoping to see her improve because the longer those muscles take to rebuild, the higher the risk of muscle atrophy. I read online that “begging” or sitting up can actually encourage strength in those muscles (LA Times). I may try to get her to sit up with my assistance when she gets her cookie rewards to see if it makes a difference.

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