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Scruffy: this brave little dog persevered through an incredibly difficult back injury

We were sitting on the couch one evening, all the animals tucked in safely in the barn, and came upon this Facebook post:

Matt: What do you think? Me: I'll go pick him up on Tuesday!

I'm exaggerating. It wasn't so quick... we would never make such an impulsive decision about an animal with extensive medical needs and an uncertain future. But we agreed on this adoption extremely quickly, even though we knew that we wouldn't be able to actually meet or touch this guy until the papers were signed. It was a HUGE risk! And SO worth it!

Scruffy's story is pretty incredible: he was surrendered by his owner to a shelter in Los Angeles because he had lost function of the entire back half of his body (legs, bladder control, tail wag, etc). The shelter found a veterinarian who was able to quickly diagnose him with a severely herniated vertebral disc - the contents of the disc were pushing on the spinal cord, causing the neurologic deficits. As if this story wasn't already incredible... a local animal welfare organization donated the money for Scruffy's corrective surgery!

After surgery, Scruffy spent a few nights in the hospital and then went back to the animal shelter for recovery and the desperate hope of finding an adoptive family. That's when we saw the Facebook post. Scruffy had all the medical support he needed, but he still lacked the family who could take him home, do his therapy, carry him around, love him and support him (emotionally and physically), and bring him to vet appointments.

The timing was perfect for us - one of us was working full time on the homestead and the other was on a self-imposed sabbatical from work, leaving PLENTY of time for animal care.

The biggest part of Scruffy's care was related to his mobility: he required FULL TIME crate rest for 6 straight weeks, with breaks allowed out of the crate ONLY for peeing & pooping and for this three-times-per-day physical therapy. He had to eat, sleep, and snuggle from inside of his crate, which was very frustrating and awkward at times. We QUICKLY changed from a crate to a wagon so that he could have a lot more visibility, mobility, and social interaction.

Scruffy required a few medications, and he was a pretty picky eater for a while, so administering meds was not as easy as just dropping it into his food!

Another huge and unanticipated feature of his recovery was his anxiety. We have no idea what life was like for Scruffy before he was surrendered, how he was treated when he lost function in his back legs, and for how long he had been struggling before getting the help he needed. Any number of factors probably contributed to Scruffy being very upset any time he was left alone. Even walking around a corner for a moment made him cry. With much love and snuggles, Scruffy's anxiety is much Much MUCH better!

Scruffy's crate rest and dedication to his PT paid off - right on track, he started twitching his back legs, then flexing the muscles, then bearing weight, taking tiny steps, then bigger steps! His first "real" steps were on the kitchen floor of a neighbor's house - I guess a tempting piece of garlic bread is a good incentive to walk across the room!

Scruffy is a huge part of our lives. He is an inspiring, happy, snuggly, loving family member. It is truly hard to remember what life was like before we adopted him! We take him with us anywhere he's allowed. We are so incredibly proud of his progress, his bravery, and his fighting spirit. Also very thankful for his snuggles and cute face.


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