Dog with disabilities receives life-changing treatment.
Remy’s owners, Pam Spess and Todd Irwin
By the time Pam Spess walked through the doors of Animal Acupuncture in Tulsa, three veterinarians had recommended she euthanize her puppy, Remy. A brain defect meant the 7-week-old miniature Australian Shepherd couldn’t see, sit or hold up her head.
“Do you think there’s any hope?” Spess asked Dr. Heather Owen, veterinarian and owner of the practice.
“There’s always hope, and we’ll never know if we don’t try,” Owen said.
Spess agreed to six weeks of acupuncture and rehabilitation for Remy. At the end of that trial period, the pup was sitting, eating out of a bowl and standing for short periods of time.
More than a year later, Spess says Remy is an excitable dog that can walk and run. Owen says she is about “75 percent normal.” Remy spends around 20 hours a week at Animal Acupuncture for “daycare” and treatment like acupuncture and exercise on a water treadmill.
Owen jokes that Remy has become a therapy dog for her clients. “We don’t see ‘easy’ patients,” she says. “We deal with the 25 percent that don’t respond to Western medicine. When our families come in, they’re here because their vet recommended euthanasia. They feel hopeless.
“When they see Remy, their eyes sparkle, they ask her story and they start to believe their dog can be healed.”
Remy’s recovery prompted Owen to write a research paper to help veterinarians around the world care for “swimmer puppies” like Remy — puppies who, unable to stand, lie on their bellies with their legs out to the sides. Owen says most swimmer puppies, whose brain defect also can affect vision and hearing, are euthanized at an early age.
Seeing Remy’s progress, Spess is grateful she didn’t make that choice. “I think everybody deserves a chance,” she says.