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Jaspers Story

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My name is Jasper and I am an 11 year old yellow Labrador.  On January 8th 2012 I had the early morning wakeup call that you get when you reach my age, and so my Mum and Dad let me out of the back door.  As I went to step outside, I collapsed in pain and did a nose dive into the pavement.  I could not move.  I had to be lifted back up and carried indoors as it was too painful to weight bear on my legs.  My Mum and dad phoned the vets who said that they would see me later that morning.

As I am a very large traditional Lab of 47 Kg it was difficult to lift me so I had to be rolled up in a rug and taken into the vets through the trade entrance.  After spending the day in the vets with pain relief being given, the vets were able to X-ray me and I was found to be suffering Neurological problems, spondylosis, hip dysplasia and Arthritis.  The prognosis did not look good at all.  It was looking like I would never walk again, and there were 3 options.Option 1 – two operations on my spine and hips but with no guarantee that I would recover.Option 2 – Go home with lots of pain relief and anti inflammatory drugs to use along with Massage and exercises for my mum and dad to carry out on me.Option 3 – this option does not bear thinking about! My mum and dad decided to take me home and give me lots of TLC.  
This consisted of turning me every two hours from side to side to keep my circulation going, along with massaging my back and moving my legs to stimulate them. 

I returned to the vets after two days for more pain relief, and on the way home we drove to Lee-on-the-Solent and stopped outside Canine plus.  It looked like a small doggie pet shop, but on entering the store my mum and dad found it a magical tardis, with a Hydrotherapy pool and water treadmill.  They were warmly welcomed by a lovely lady called Barbara, who after hearing of my illness, suggested that they wait 5 minutes to speak to a lady called Bex.  Bex listened to my mum and dad’s story about my problems and was very enthusiastic and keen to try to help me if the vet said that it was ok.  I returned to the vets 2 days later and my mum and dad asked the vets what their thoughts were on Hydrotherapy.  The vets were very positive in general but were not sure if it would help me as I was totally off my feet and had severe degrees of the illnesses.  The vets said it was worth a try but not to get our hopes up.  Bex was fully booked for a few weeks, but wanted to see me as soon as possible so she juggled her appointments and fitted us in the next day.

Bex and Holly’s faces were a picture when my mum and dad walked into Canine plus with a rolled up rug.  I was a quivering wreck within this rug but Bex and Holly were very friendly and welcoming and tried to reassure me that I was safe in their hands.  We tried the Hydrotherapy Treadmill, but I was so weak I could not do anything, not even stand.  Bex suggested we try the hydrotherapy pool instead.  We came back the next day and Bex, Holly and my dad lifted me on towels and a harness into the pool.  That was it!!  Being in the nice warm water triggered my brain and stimulated my legs to move.  I began to swim with support of Bex and Holly.  It was not for long, but I swam!  I moved my legs!  
My mum and dad were so glad to see me swim they cried all the way home.

Two days later I was back again (still in the rolled up rug) to swim with Bex in the Hydro pool.  This time I met Simon and made another new friend.  I swam round the pool for a minute longer.  Although I still could not stand and weight bear, the support of the water and stimulation it gave me made me think that I might eventually walk again.  I started going to hydrotherapy 3 times a week and each time I tried to move my legs more and even tried to pull myself up out of the pool.  At home all I could do was lay there and be carried everywhere.  Bit by bit I started to try and stand up with the aid of a harness that my mum and dad had purchased from Canine plus after Barbara had allowed us to trial one to see if it would be of assistance to me.  The harness helped me weight bear enough when nature called.  This was when Becky decided to try me on the Hydrotherapy treadmill again.  
I was still very weak and had lost muscle mass so could only manage to stand on the treadmill with Bex taking my weight and supporting me. 

Each day I tried an extra step to do things for myself, lifting myself up off the floor on my front legs to eventually sitting up on my back legs.
 When I returned to Bex the next time, I managed to walk on the treadmill for a minute.  Each time I have gone to Hydrotherapy, Bex has gently encouraged me to do an extra minute of walking.  We built the time up to three sets of 3 minute intervals with lots of resting breaks in between.  Each week my mum and dad have seen an improvement in both my mobility and my self esteem. Bex encourages me to walk more and more each time I go to Hydrotherapy.  I have now managed to do 15 minutes on the treadmill, and can walk around the block each day from my home. 

When I went to the vets a few weeks ago for a check-up, my vet was so shocked and near to tears when she saw me walk into the practice.  She was so amazed at the vast improvement in me since starting Hydrotherapy, as she had been on holiday so had not seen me since my second visit.  My Vet said that it is quite clearly the determination of my Mum, dad, Bex, Simon, Holly and Barbara that has got me back on my feet.  The support, knowledge, care and attention that Bex and all at canine plus have given me is excellent.  They have also given outstanding advice and support to my mum and dad and have proved that perseverance pays off. 
2014 Update: Jasper still continues to attend weekly hydrotherapy sessions, and is now approaching 14 years old! 
Jasper has also made his journey across the rainbow bridge but again Nikki and Bob have asked that we keep his story on our site.

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