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Let's Talk About Cobb's Injury in More Detail...

Once upon a time, there was some confusion expressed about Cobb’s paralysis. I hope this puts that confusion to rest.

The word “paralyzed” does not mean “no movement at all”.

Sometimes it means flaccidity, sometimes it means spasticity and sometimes it means normal looking, but still reflex-only motions, otherwise known as “muscle memory”. This means that Cobb’s muscles “remember” the motions and movements they are supposed to make, even though he cannot feel it. The connection between his brain and the muscles in the lower half of his body no longer exists. He has no response to deep pain stimulation.

Sometimes, I get excited comments like “He’s wagging his tail!” or “Look at his legs go!” or “He’s not paralyzed!” Still others will say things like, “My dog was also paralyzed, and he walks now because we did A, B and C”. They understandably get excited and think that this means that Cobb is progressing or that if we would just do “A, B and C too,” Cobb would get the same results. Well, not only did we do A, B and C, we did the entire alphabet and continue to do many of these things on a daily basis. We certainly did NOT "give up" on him, as has been suggested on rare occasions.

Though they mean well, people often don’t understand that every traumatic injury will progress, or not, to as many different levels as there are stars in the sky. Every dog and every injury is very different. Just because one dog progressed to a higher level than Cobb, does not mean that Cobb is capable of the same things. It also does not mean that another dog will achieve the same level of progress that Cobb has. You cannot compare apples to spinal cord injuries. (You thought I was going to say “oranges” didn’t you?)

He actually made enormous strides in rehab. He went from not even dragging himself around to sometimes, spinal walking (which is purely muscle memory and reflexes) over the course of many months of physical therapy, acupuncture, hyperbaric therapy, laser therapy, chiropractic care, B12 injections between his toes, underwater treadmill, and SO much more!

In Cobb’s particular case, you can also stimulate him to have involuntary movements by scratching or touching his hips and lower back or poking him between his back toes with your finger, which actually makes him kick. These are all reflexive movements, similar to when a doctor taps your knee with a reflex hammer.

Pinching his tail (remember, he can’t feel this) will also cause nerve signals that go down into his legs, making them move in a way that looks voluntary, even though it is purely involuntary. To simulate this, as part of his ongoing, at-home therapy, we take him into our carpeted basement or out in the grass and put a chip clip on his tail. That single, daily exercise alone is how we helped the level below his paralysis go from atrophied to muscular. You may be thinking, “What does that matter, if he is paralyzed?” Preventing muscle atrophy helps keep him as mobile as possible, for as long as possible. This, in turn, will also help prevent pressure ulcers and friction wounds, especially as he ages.

Cobb’s most updated cart also contributes to his ongoing therapy. In his new cart, his feet are placed in boots, instead of suspended in stirrups. When his feet take “steps” and make contact with the pavement, it stimulates his legs to keep making the same motions. It looks very much like he’s purposely trying to walk, and his tail may even “wag” though it is purely reflexes and muscle memory. He can’t feel it, but it is still very beneficial to maintaining muscle mass and preventing atrophy. We know when he’s getting tired and it’s time to give him a break when his “steps” become more like “bunny hops”.

Cobb has officially graduated from rehab several times and done exceptionally well since then. He has had the very best in an extensive, expert medical team including veterinarians, veterinary neurologists, veterinary physiatrists (vets specializing in rehab), acupuncturists, veterinary nutritionists, veterinary chiropractic care and physical therapists. We have also transformed our house into a “canine handicapped-adaptable” home. We have yoga mat trails running all throughout our home so that Cobb has a cushioned surface that’s easier for him to get traction to spinal walk. We also do not have “filler” furniture, like coffee tables, so that he has more space to navigate with few obstacles in his way.

He has made amazing advances since that stormy day on South Cobb Drive, where he was found, sopping wet, scared, traumatically injured and narrowly escaping euthanasia. Instead, a most wonderful rescue stepped in and saved him. Then we stepped in, fell in love and accepted him exactly how he was and with whatever improvements he would, or would not, have.

After exhausting all efforts, resources and therapies, we have also accepted what his medical team and therapists have told us: with his particular type, location and extent of spinal cord damage, he has made all the improvement he will likely ever make. Of course, we know that miracles can happen, however, we are very realistic and carry no false hopes. We have worked very hard to get where we are and have made peace with that. I know that people want fairy tale endings to stories like Cobb’s and don’t see that explanation as such. However, if you’ve followed him for any length of time at all, you will see that his story is anything but tragic.

He lives with us, in a loving home with his two schnauzer sisters, Daisy and Lily. He sleeps in a safe, warm bed at night and eats only the very best food. He travels extensively via motorhome and meets his fans who are literally, all over the country. He brings smiles to children and the elderly alike, as a Pet Therapy dog. Most important of all, he is deeply and unconditionally loved by us and the many people that follow him on social media. He wakes up happy and excited to start each new day and he falls asleep every night in a contented, deep and peaceful slumber. The end of each and every one of Cobb’s days are his very own Happily Ever After.

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1 commentaire

08 juin 2022

Thank you so much for sharing Cobb’s story. He has a beautiful life now and wants for nothing. There could never be a better family for him. I love him so much and love seeing him and all his spunk every day ❣️His beautiful face says it all ❤️🐾🐾❣️

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