A young dog was brought into a local veterinary emergency/specialty hospital on a stretcher on the eve of January 18, 2016 accompanied by three individuals identified as his owners. It was learned that the pup had suffered physical disciplinary action at the hands of his owners who subsequently abandoned him at the facility. The veterinary hospital cared for the dog for several days before placing him in a rescue organization where he was given the name of Walter. Walter had a severe injury to his spinal cord which impacted his ability to walk.
A few weeks later I learned about Walter from a friend of mine who asked if acupuncture could help him. I was currently pursuing my training for acupuncture certification. Both my husband, Michael, and I became interested in this dog's plight and we decided to attend a fundraiser to meet Walter. After a brief meeting and photo op we re-entered the crowd of people that filled the venue. Within a short time, Walter broke free from the handler, drug himself across the floor and through a sea of people, stopped directly in front of me and looked up. This was the moment. It was a moment of clarity that this dog needed us.
Knowing that his needs were so great between lack of mobility and incontinence issues, Michael and I offered to foster him in our home so that we could get to work to see if we could restore neurologic function and mobility. Sadly, an MRI showed that he had a very guarded prognosis for return of function but we still wanted to give him every opportunity.
After one month, we decided to adopt him. With a clean start we chose to rename him Chauncy, a French name meaning 'good fortune'.
My husband and I worked so hard employing a number of different modalities to try to restore Chauncy's body. I was doing all that I could do but I also employed the help of others who could provide therapies I couldn't, such as hydrotherapy. I was having to drive him far across town for rehabilitation services. We were able to make him stronger, improve his range of motion, and make him comfortable, but we were unable to get him walking on his own. The injury to his spinal cord was not to be overcome.
I had learned so many lessons from Chauncy but what became most apparent to me was the lack of physical rehabilitation services for veterinary patients in my own neighborhood. I also learned that I loved providing this type of care. This experience is what inspired me to pursue additional training so that I could not only help dogs like Chauncy, but dogs (and cats) with other physical rehabilitation needs. It has been an honor and a privilege to work in general medicine for so many years, but I have come to understand that I can provide a much needed group of services to help our companion animals live their best lives longer.
-Dr. Laura Surovi
Chauncy is one of 49 Pit Bulls who appears in award-winning photographer Greg Murray's book "Pit Bull Heroes: 49 Underdogs with Resilience and Heart"