During the late ’30s, I had a lovely Pekingese pup named
Fuey Yon Yu. "Fuey" was a slang word that meant "I
don’t agree with you" or the stronger "You’re
full of baloney." Fuey chose to be an outdoor dog and was
permitted in the house, but he loved being outdoors. Snow fell
just for him! He’d run in a deep snowy truck track and turn
his broad flat face to the side to let the snow cover him. Being
Pekingese he had beautiful long fur and very short legs.
One October morning we woke to find Fuey, age 3, paralyzed in
the hind parts. He couldn’t stand alone or wag his tail. Our
first thought was that he had been run over or shot. However
there was not a mark to indicate that anything had harmed him. I
cuddled him and rubbed him and wouldn’t even think twice
about euthanasia because he was apparently in no pain.
In my physical education training, I had studied anatomy,
physiology and body mechanics for people of course. At the
time of Fuey’s paralysis, I was studying body mechanics and
had completed the section on massage for rehabilitation.
Fuey liked being rubbed, and I began to do a more specific
kind of massage to stimulate circulation in his hind parts, but I
had to catch him to do it. He went gaily on as if nothing had
happened! Nothing hurt him and he had cats to corral and mules to
follow and other "chores" around the farm. He dragged
those legs until the hair wore off, and we’d turn him over
to drag on the other side. I felt that he didn’t even know I
was doing massage, so I missed lots of days but not two in a row.
October passed, and he spent some time on our flat front
porch, which was just a step high at one end and almost three
feet above ground at the other. He’d be asleep and a hawk
would circle in the sky. Bam! He’d fly off the tall porch
with hind legs just dragging behind. It was the same in November;
raw places on his legs became hard, thick calluses. During my
long Christmas break from school and work, I gave him more
One day when I was doing some two finger things to make the
blood flow up his legs toward his heart, he suddenly tried to
scratch with one hind leg! I called the family to come see the
faint motion he could do. I redoubled the massage efforts and
often balanced him on those limp legs. He’d balance a moment
and fall over, but it was progress. Then he’d try to scratch
with the other leg and finally he tried to wag his tail. I never
missed another day of working with him at least once.
Some time in February, he actually walked alone. The progress
was fast from there on. It was the end of the month before he
could rise and walk a little on all four legs. He never lost a
certain amount of limp. In the several remaining years of his
life he limped a little, and people sometimes said, "I
believe your dog has a sore foot."
It’s possible that this experience was the motive for my
signing up, during World War II, for U.S. Army training as a
physical therapist. I passed the written exam and was scheduled
to go to White Springs, Ga., for the physical. However, my
husband, Chub, was out of the country with the U.S. Coast Guard,
and he was very much opposed to my getting into uniform. I
canceled the appointment to please him.