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Updated: May 22

Yes, you got it!

I named my dog after Oscar Pistorius…Oscar is a large, (25 to 33kg) crossbreed missing

his front right leg. He has had a rollercoaster of a life and it is because of this dog that I changed my entire career!

He was found along the river near my house. He had a wire snare around his paw and consequent infection all the way to his shoulder as such he needed an amputation that included removing his entire scapular. Luckily as he was still a puppy, he recovered quickly from his traumatic surgery. Partly because he had an incredibly talented surgeon do the procedure but also because being so young he knew no different. Our little miracle man.

Living a perfectly problem-free, content life full of treats, clicker training, and little brothers and sisters to look after. Oscar became a fundamental part of the Ramsay Family. He has a daily chore (as all members of a functional household do). He is in charge of collecting the newspaper from the bottom of the driveway, daily at 4pm for a reward or treat.

Sadly one afternoon, he went to fetch the newspaper, he never returned. My worried mother went to look for him and found him on the ground. He had collapsed next to the newspaper. Unable to stand, even with assistance, he was in such pain howling every time you even tried to approach him. I was then practicing as a veterinary nurse (the worst kind of owner) We know the worst case scenario, that’s the first place our minds go, making us the most hysterical, compulsive, annoying owners ever!)

Oscar had a cervical disc lesion or CVDD (cervical vertebral disc disease) [this needs to be in capitals as it is a disease] He needed surgery urgently and even after surgery there was a chance that our beautiful boy would never walk again. Our surgeon was (and still is) one of the best and advised that we give him a chance, try our best and go ahead with the surgery. So we did and it was the best decision we ever made! With the help of this fantastic surgeon we were able to give Oscar the best chance he had!

Post surgery was tough. Oscar had one of the best surgeons but that was only the first step, a long road to recovery lay ahead. . He was still completely paralyzed- from the neck down. In the beginning, even lifting his head was a struggle.. As a family we decided to give him 6 weeks. We said that we’d give him all we had during that time and everyone had a role to play in his recovery. Turning every 4 hours, expressing his bladder, feeding him. You name it! We all took shifts and created ways that we could move him- one being to lift him onto a towel (between 3 of us) and drag him to the bottom of the garden for psychological stimulation. It was known as the 4pm calm hour. It was pretty much the only time he wouldn’t howl.

I started doing research at this point. Things I could do besides the little bit of rehab and general nursing care that I already knew. I found Rehabilitation and an entire field of knowledge that had recently developed in the veterinary field. I started with simple heat and cold therapy as well as passive Range of motion. I would also help him with assisted standing and slight weight shifting exercises. We found a very well known Hydrotherapy centre and there they gave me the push in the right direction. Oscar started going for Hydro sessions in the pool. I learnt so much from them and will be forever grateful.

I knew then that this is my path. If I could do this for my own dog,give him the chance to live a fantastic life, filled with happiness, movement and a genuine quality of life then I could do this for others and make a difference in other pets’ lives.

Oscar steadily improved. He went from being able to lift his head to then rolling his weight over and sitting on his chest. He learnt to tell us when it was time to empty his bladder and eventually gained bladder control back. He tried as hard as we did! We would often leave him to try standing on his own and as hard as it was to see him struggling, after sometime he was rewarded for never giving up. His fighting spirit is what I think of when treating other patients.

On the day we had to make our final decision of whether his quality of life was good enough to not send him to heaven. I had to have a very honest conversation with my parents. We discussed the difficult, heart-wrenching alternative of keeping him alive. At this point he was trying to stand and managing for a few seconds and then falling over again. Definitely not walking yet.

We heard some movement coming from the entrance hall where his midday spot was. We all got up and went running to see if he had fallen over. As we walked around the patio corner- he was not on his non-slip mat but standing (WAGGING HIS TAIL) and taking his first steps towards us! We all crumbled around him in tears and were so grateful. That day our prayers were answered. We got our big guy back. His Recovery was not over but he had decided to never give up and we promised to support him every step of the way.

To this day, he does weekly swimming sessions in our pool at home with his very own life jacket. Luckily for him, his mom is a therapist! He struggles at times with the arthritis in his front limb and keeping his weight down is a challenge for us, but all in all he lives a fantastic, happy life.

The combination of surgery and rehabilitation in Oscar’s case shows exactly how effective a team approach is and how there is place for all techniques.

I pay tribute to dear Oscar for he is the reason I started Ramsay Rehab. This Dog inspired me to fulfil my dreams and I am reminded daily, when he greets me at the door, standing on all three legs, that the work I do is good and that I am exactly where I should be.

My Amputee pet changed my life in so many ways! How has yours?

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