by Lisa Stahr
I am not, by nature, a patient person. I admit that. And since hitting 50, that lack of patience has only gotten worse, thanks in equal parts to age, menopause, and this wretched economy. And while I try–I really do–to bite my tongue, force a smile, or think kind thoughts, I often find myself having an entire conversations with someone in my head that usually starts with “Are you kidding me?!”
This morning was one of those times.
Every so often the San Francisco Chronicle runs a column where people can ask veterinarians questions about their pets. Today, someone wrote in to say that her dog had his ACL repaired (although it’s actually called a CCL in dogs, but I digress) and that Fido still isn’t using the leg after many weeks of recovery. What should she do? And here’s where my famous lack of patience came into play: two veterinarians from the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital–a facility that is famed, mind you, for state-of-the-art veterinary medicine–answered the question and neither of them suggested that rehab therapy might be considered.
Tea cup down. Teeth set to “Grind.” Are you kidding me?!
If there was ever a place where rehab therapy could help, this is it. Three-legging it, as we often refer to it, is what rehab therapy was made for! At Scout’s House, not one dog who’s come in three-legging it has left that way, including several who the referring vets were convinced would never walk on four legs again. Are we miracle workers? Sometimes, but not in those cases. As long as the surgical site is sound and the recovery on track, rehab therapists can teach dogs to walk “four on the floor” within a matter of weeks.
And those vets should have known that. They have one of the best rehab therapy facilities right under their roof, headed up by a phenomenal physical therapist who could write the book on the subject. And one of the vets has seen–and referred to Scout’s House–several patients in need of rehab therapy.
In their defense, their answers were technically correct–”see your vet”–but they missed an opportunity to help that dog find a faster recovery and to educate pet owners that veterinary medicine has advanced, offering many of the same medical specialties you’d find in human medicine today, including cardiology, oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and yes, physical rehabilitation therapy (aka physical therapy when you’re doing it on humans).
So after I calm down, I’ll write a nice email, suggesting that they mention rehab therapy the next time someone asks a question about a three-legging dog with a recent CCL repair. I do, after all, have to work with these people. And I’ll try to remember that a big part of my job at Scout’s House is to educate everyone, including veterinarians, about the benefits of rehab therapy, that it can–and usually does–help animals live more comfortable and more functional lives. You just have to give it a try.