Coonhound Paralysis

This blog talks about our experience when Goya (our 150lb English Mastiff) came down with coonhound paralysis (also called acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pictures of Physical Therapy

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get some pictures up, but here are a few of Goya in physical therapy.

He is put into a tank that has a tredmill at the bottom, and it fills with water to help support his weight and to give resistance.
First, they put him in the tank.

Then they fill it with water and help him stand.

Then they turn on the tredmill and he has to walk.
His front feet do fine, but he needs some help with his back feet.

Goya has to walk for about 15 minutes, with some breaks (this is hard work!). When he's done, he gets to the part he likes the best -- with all the attention he gets, it's like being at a spa.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Goya goes to school

Goya is in the middle of a very active day. Gary is out of town, our daughter, Liza, is at a HS graduation party, and I have to teach all day. So Goya gets to go to school with me. He is mobile enoug now that Liza and I can lift him into the back of the car (no different than when he goes to physical therapy). So Liza drove us in to school today and Goya has been walking from room to room as I have meetings with student project groups and class. He's a little puzzled about what he is doing here and where he should go (he's never been to this new building before), but since each meeting or class takes an hour, he finds a place to lie down, pants for a few minutes, then settles down for a nap. Except for an occasional snore (ALL mastiffs snore), he doesn't disrupt meetings or class at all. Despite his size, even the students who are wary of dogs don't mind because he obviously can't chase them. He is getting more attention and exercise than he has had since December. This is really good for him, both physically and, I think, mentally.

The floors are carpetted in short industrial carpet, so it it probably the easiest surface for him to walk on. It doesn't slip like the slate and tile and cork at home, and he is doing really well. He isn't knuckling in the back very much and when he does, he works at it until he rights his foot. He seems to be getting the hang of taking some weight off the knuckled foot and flipping it -- at least that's what I deduce must be happening, although the weigh shift is too subtle to see. But he is successful more times than not, so that must be what is happening. Also, he has to get up and change rooms every hour, which is much more getting up and down than I have been doing with him at home. This sort of exercise is exactly what the physical therapists tell us we need to do with him every day.

The only drawback is that the building is on a city block with no grass at all in sight. Goya only elimnates willingly when there is grass. When he's mobile, he lasts all day from the time we leave for work until the time we get home, but he's less active than he is today. Hopefully his mastiff will and muscles will not fail him and he'll have no accidents (he'd probably be banned from the building if he did have an accident).

This is working so well, I might bring him in more often.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Goya urinates like a mobile dog

Earlier today, Goya showed progress in another area. Gary walked him from the porch to the yard this afternoon about 5PM with just a belly sling. Goya stopped near the top of the driveway, a few feet onto the grass, and started to squat, just like a mobile dog.

He urinated a river -- staying with his knees bent a little for several minutes. Gary says he did have to support Goya's weight a bit, but Goya's legs weren't shaking or giving way.

This is the first time we have seen him pee since we took the catheter out on Monday morning. We assume that he has been peeing while laying in the grass this week, because he isn't going into "distress", there have been no accidents, and the vet at physical therapy says that his bladder is not full, but that's hard for us to know because the grass is often wet and he crawls several feet while he's in the grass.

Anyway, we are very pleased that we saw him pee and that he attempted to "assume the positon" all by himself. It's amazing how he just keeps trying to be a normal dog and eventually he can do it. A person might loose heart after 6 months of being down, but not Goya!

Goya takes steps all by himself!

Just a quick celebration!
Goya had been sitting in the yard on this beautiful Saturday and Gary and I decided it was time to put him back on the porch. He sat up to show he was ready to have us put on the front walkabout and we just used a belly sling for supporting his back legs. He walked quickly back to the porch with only a lttile assistance. Sally (the physical therapist) had encouraged us to let go and see if he could stand at all by himself, so we made sure his feet were flat on his pads (not knuckled under). Goya stood a few seconds (yeah!) and then actually took about 6 steps in a circle before laying down. He did knuckle under on his back feet a few times when he took these steps, but when this happened he stood there trying to get his foot in the right position long enough for me to flip his foot for him a couple of times. When he sat, he didn't just collapse either, he went down pretty slowly and under control.
Yeah Goya!! What progress!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Goya's fun morning ("camping out", grazing, and playing ball)

It's been a long time since I posted, but Goya has been getting better and better. He can now walk with assistance. We got took the hoyer lift back to the medical supply rental store, and put the cattle sling in the garage. He now uses "walkabouts" which are a set of neoprene vest and pants with handles for us to help him. (You can find these harnesses at He hardly needs any help with his front legs, but his back legs are still weak and have to be kept rather high (little weight on them) in order for him to be able to right them without knuckling. But this is great progress. We are sure we'll get those back legs strong enough to support himself sometime!

We finally got a rain-proof awning for the back porch and the weather has been warm enough that we have moved most of our living out to the back porch. This means we could take Goya's catheter out and let him remember how to urinate like a real dog (and we can always hose off the slate porch if it takes him a while to do so).

We set up our 4-person tent on the porch for sleeping. We put a twin-size blow-up mattress in it for a human (Gary, Liza and I will take turns sleeping with him) and a baby pool for Goya to sleep on so it can catch any accidents he might have in this transition phase without soiling the tent floor. We put blankets in the baby pool so he isn't losing a lot of heat to the slate porch floor. Goya and I slept out there last night for the first time. He didn't wake me up at all (though I woke up a few times myself because I was too cold but too lazy to actually get inside the sleeping bag). He turned over all by himself and seemed to sleep very well.

This morning, after I had walked him out to the grass to eliminate, he ate his breakfast heartily. Then, instead of putting him back on the porch, I decided to take him for a short walk further into the back yard. There are some weeds on the side that he always used to like to munch on when he was mobile and I thought he might enjoy some grazing. At first he was happy to walk, but got lazy before we got to the weeds and I had to drag him a bit. But then he seemed to understand that I was taking him to his beloved weeds and youi should have seen the tail wag as he took the last few steps and began to munch.

After a little grazing, I noticed that his indestructible ball was under a tree from last fall. I dug it out and rolled it to him. He had a BALL (literally) pushing at it with his nose and his front feet, and scooting along the ground and rolling over to get it when it was just out of reach. I am sure this was great exercise for his head, neck, front and especially those weak back legs. Yeah Goya!