An elderly sheepdog teaches us that there is a place for integrated medicine at any time of life, enabling her to enjoy the last drops of a full and fantastic life.
Transformation was an understatement. To go from seriously thinking of having to make ‘that awful decision’ to getting my bouncy dog back in less than a week has no words for me. Bec, a retired working sheep dog and mother of my other dog, was struggling with hindquarter weakness and a mammary tumour. Both these conditions were being managed under veterinary supervision, from Hook Norton Veterinary Centre, with Amantadine and more recently Gabapentin, alongside regular care from holistic vets and practitioners. However, after a dramatic downturn in her mobility, it was clear that something else needed to be done. Thankfully, it was Scenar and acupuncture which turned Bec’s prognosis around…………
One Sunday afternoon Bec woke from a snooze and when I saw her walk across the floor to see the cat, I noticed she was catastrophically lame and her facial expression and body language showed she was in pain.
Slippery floors can cause awful problems for dogs so we had put down mats everywhere to help her. Being her own dog, however, she often managed to avoid them! For this reason, we tried to keep her in non-slip booties as often as we could. She was a Doggie Imelda Marcos she had so many pairs of shoes. That Sunday afternoon, I could see that she had virtually no strength in her right hind leg at all and the other three were having to work hard to hold her up.
Just six weeks previously she had been playing in the waves, coping well on Amantadine and homeopathy with intermittent sessions of acupuncture and Galen Myotherapy.
However, over the six weeks following her day at the beach, she showed increasing signs of discomfort from her hindquarters. Furthermore, we also suspected the now rapidly developing mammary tumour was also giving her problems. The day she went so horribly lame, Bec was on day two of Gabapentin (plus Amantadine) and should have been showing signs of less discomfort, not getting worse!
I took these videos to show her healthcare team and it ended up being the start of this extraordinary video story.
Having seen Bec struggling on that Sunday, I contacted ‘Last Hope Vet’ Roger Meacock and secured an appointment the following Wednesday. Meanwhile, I spoke to my conventional vet who advised reducing the Gabapentin to see if her struggling was a side effect to the drug. This would allow us to consider using another type of medication or to adjust the dose of Gabapentin (which we never needed to do- in fact she never went back onto it). My vet also approved our visit to Roger.
By Wednesday morning, Bec was still asking to go out for walks but was clearly too weak, so I lifted her into the car and took her to see Roger. He examined her carefully and suggested that Scenar would be the best option. Not having seen anything like this before and sensing that we had nothing to lose, we went ahead with the treatment. Bec lay quietly while Roger moved the Scenar machine across her hindquarters and legs for 40 minutes – it looks a little like a hand-held scanner you might see in hospital. When the treatment was done, he carried Bec back into the car for me. We returned home and I carried a very sleepy dog into the house where she slept, uncharacteristically, for hours.
The next day, Thursday, Bec seemed brighter. She was able to walk out into the garden and she enjoyed a gentle walk around the patch, sniffing flowers and appearing to walk more confidently although still obviously delicate and not keen to do much more than a gentle walk, more so because it was a really warm day.
Overall, Bec wasn’t as bad as she had been on the previous Sunday, but I was relieved that we had our acupuncture vet, Lindsay Brazil, visiting that evening. Lindsay knew Bec well as she had been treating her for around a year. In fact, it was Lindsay who found the mammary tumour during one of her treatment sessions. She noticed how fragile Bec seemed. Normally, being a tough working sheep dog, Bec can’t be doing with attention. But on this occasion, she lay down and let Lindsay carry out a very gentle acupuncture session using tiny acupuncture needles normally used for cats, such was Bec’s delicate state.
Lindsay left the house quietly. “Let me know how she is in the morning,” she said, giving me a hug. We both thought I would be making a difficult decision very soon.
Friday morning came and, with the sun brightly shining, we headed out into the garden. As I opened the door, I had the usual argy-bargy with both dogs trying to get through first to bark at the pigeons…. WAIT!….. BOTH the dogs? Yes, really…! Bec was shoving past me to get out through the door with her daughter. Off she went like a little round show hunter horse, tail circling, back legs stiff and pokey, but most definitely cantering down the garden!
I just couldn’t believe it. Utter transformation… what else can I say? I took this video, so you can see what a difference the combined treatments made.
I say combined because over the following months, we noticed that having Scenar followed by acupuncture seemed to produce a greater result than using either treatment singly. We found too that alternating Galen Myotherapy and acupuncture also provided a better result than using the therapies on their own. We knew that we were dealing with an elderly dog in slow decline so we always held realistic expectations. However, by using a combination of these treatments, we managed to keep Bec mobile for several months. Here she is 36 hours after the previous video and five days after start of her new combined treatment that began with the Scenar session.
Here is Bec nine days after treatment started and 12 days after the first video in this article. She is playing in the fields, so happy to be out and chasing her daughter again.
This is a real story of integrated veterinary care. Bec’s quality of life in those last months was transformed by using a combination of pain relief and complementary therapies. Without these extra treatments, I think our decision would have been to put her to sleep once she showed that marked drop in the quality of her life. I am so grateful to all the vets and practitioners who were prepared to work together for the good of Bec. Thanks to them, she went on to enjoy a mobile and very happy life until the mammary cancer took her three months later. It was during that final time that homeopathy held its own in managing her pain and discomfort, but that’s another story!
“I’m one of the founder members of CAM4animals and was affected in my work as a mentor for Homeopathy At Wellie Level and in the care for my animals when the RCVS statement on CAM was released. I have worked as a qualified natural health practitioner for over 25 years, using various CAM therapies with my children, myself and my own animals. I work closely with farmers using holistic farming practices and see the benefits first hand. Using integrated healthcare with my animals is now second nature. I am equally thankful for my conventional and holistic vets and animal practitioners.”
Disclaimer – This blog was created by a guest author. CAM4Animals has reproduced this in good faith but cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies of information in it or any use you make of this information.
The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (other than your own) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health.