The Wonders of Acupuncture

Many of you know June as being an integral part of Blue Ridge as well as that voice on the phone. Did you also know she is a talented writer?! For our next blog post, we asked if she could share her story about her very own Duncan.

Wonders of Acupuncture

As a 3 month old puppy, Duncan, my Labrador Retriever destined for glory in the Obedience Trial show ring, was involved in a car accident with a deer.  He was in a crate in the car, sized for the adult Lab he would become instead of the safer size appropriate crate he should have been in. He was sleeping soundly, facing forward, when the impact came and his little body slammed into the front of his crate at 35 mph.  He seemed okay at first but was sore and gimpy the next day and an exam by his veterinarian found nothing to be concerned about and was ordered home to rest and take an NSAID medication for a few days. Over the next few months, he became slowly but surely more sore in his front legs.  Radiographs were inclusive and it continued to worsen; at 10 months of age, he was referred for a second opinion by a specialist. They took additional x-rays and diagnosed Elbow Dysplasia of Traumatic Origin. With that diagnosis, my dreams for his career in the Trial ring went up in smoke because I knew I could never have him jumping but more importantly, I knew he faced a life time of issues.  The specialist did surgery on both elbows the very next day which entailed cleaning up both elbow joints and the caveat that this procedure would give him relief for a while but eventually, he would develop arthritis in both elbows much sooner than the average dog. They advised that once he was past the post surgical recuperation and rehab, I could allow him to do whatever he wanted to do activity wise.  So, I faithfully rehabbed my 10 month old Lab pup by restricting exercise for 6 weeks which as one can imagine takes a lot of ingenuity and patience!

Water therapy

After the six weeks were up, we started water rehab which he grew to love because he got to retrieve stuff from the cool water over and over for a half hour 4 times a week during the following summer.

Fast forward 8 years during which time, he loved life.  Passionate about retrieving, he made it his mission to be the first one to the ball or bumper or stick and he pounded hard after it.  His elbows were thicker and fatter than they should have been but he rarely complained. He had his own specialized way of handling stairs that, while unconventional, worked for him  But as the years wore on, I could count on him needing a few days of medication after a particularly active weekend more and more frequently. Since his surgery, we gave him joint support and Omega 3 supplements daily and had him on a diet formulated to aid in joint support.  Annual radiographs of his elbows showed a slow and steady increase in arthritic changes in the elbows but he did not slow down nor did I ask him to. His joy in experiencing life, and all it had to offer, was not something I wanted to deny him.

When he began walking oddly, throwing one front leg or the other slightly out to the side when walking, and being a bit more reluctant to retrieve, we decided to give acupuncture a try and see how, or if, he responded to it.  I was amazed after Dr. Jessica Tracy administered the very first treatment to find him walking normally (for him at least) and his eagerness to retrieve and join us for hikes renewed. Even my husband, who is not accustomed to watching for the subtle things like that, noticed a big difference.  I could tell every time when the benefits began to wear off.

Acupuncture needles

His elbows will always be a problem to some extent but, after all these years, to find something that relieves his pain so quickly and successfully is exciting.  And seeing it give him this relief for several weeks after each treatment is wonderful.

Oh, and the added benefit here is that he loves having the acupuncture done!  As Dr. Tracy inserts each needle into it’s correct location, he barely even acknowledges their presence and five minutes into the treatment, he is super relaxed and falling asleep.  It is nothing short of amazing to me to watch the immediate as well as the after affects of acupuncture. Will it work this well for every animal? Maybe. And maybe even more so. One thing is for certain, it does no harm and, in Duncan’s case, it does extreme good!