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Hydrotherapy helps Staffie Abby

June 11, 2015

Staffie cross Abby

After owning a pedigree Staffie for 15 years, Jill and Chris decided they would provide a home to a rescue dog, it felt like the right thing to do having heard of so many dogs needing a forever home.

They met and fell in love with Abby, then 4. Her past had been that of misery, loneliness and abuse and she needed owners who were patient, loving and cautious as Abby was defensive and nervous around other dogs – possibly due to being attacked at some point in her unfortunate life. After a nervous journey to her new home, Abby began her new life with her new family.

Truth be told she was a bit of a handful but with delicate nurturing she has become a lovely, affectionate canine family member and loves the grandchildren coming to visit. She walks best on a lead to keep her safe and comfortable and with some training has transformed, gaining the trust of her family.

All was well until in November 2014, Abby jumped up onto the sofa for her usual snuggles and sadly, in no time, seemed to lose the ability to stand on her back legs at all. Distraught, Jill and Chris feared she had perhaps slipped a disc or worse. Rushing to their local vet surgery, Abby was quickly referred to Dick White specialist veterinary hospital in Newmarket. Nervously they awaited the diagnosis and once delivered it shook them to the core.

Abby had suffered a spinal ‘stroke’ – A fibrocartilaginous embolism, or FCE for short, a blockage in a blood vessel in the spinal cord, often referred to as a spinal cord stroke. It was severe and in order to give Abby a good chance of mobility recovery, intensive physical treatment started straight away. Having spent 3 long weeks away from home, Abby returned where her road to recovery continued. Jill and Chris had to enable movement with a harness to support Abby’s back legs. Therapy continued and built up with further physiotherapy supporting Abby on a water treadmill in a tank of water. This lasted a further 3 week period until Abby was referred to the team at FootFalls for a long term mixed treatment plan.

FootFalls owner Kate poolside

After her initial assessment the Footfalls team got to work on her planned treatment schedule starting with electrotherapy treatment on her back, combined with gentle jumping over small, low canes and manoeuvring around a set of small cones.

She then progressed into the hydrotherapy pool gradually over several sessions with the aid of a very handy toy – the rubber chicken! Abby loves the rubber squeaky chicken and destroys one every time she has her sessions at FootFalls.


Its become a comical talking point and the team makes sure there’s a new chicken on hand for every visit.

Abby now swims like a fish and is reluctant to leave the pool at the end of her sessions, she enjoys the water and it has benefitted her progress immensely. She has gone from strength to strength and continues to make excellent progress.

A pirate rubber chicken dog toyAbby has achieved the most remarkable recovery, she can do almost everything she did before and despite some weakness in her left leg, she still enjoys snuggles on the sofa with the help of a cushion to make the jump easier! Abby even pushes herself to climb stairs using extra effort making up for the weakness of the back legs. We feel Abby has surpassed all our expectations and she has come further than anyone thought possible.

Pacing the treatment and being consistent is key to any recovery and strength building therapy. When an animal requires ongoing rehabilitation the owners put in as much effort and work as their beloved pet and the reward sees their cherished 4 legged family member go from strength to strength, a joy shared by all involved. FootFalls found Abby to be an amazing and inspiring patient with dedicated and loving owners who have certainly enabled such an astonishing recovery in an animal that had a very limited level of expectedmobility following such a severe spinal stroke.

We have been very pleased with our experience with FootFalls, Kate has allowed Abby to gain confidence in her own time, we are very happy to recommend the services of FootFalls and will miss everyone when Abby completes her treatment plan in June – Jill and Chris Cann

Kate Treating In PoolHave FootFalls treated your pet?

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