Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Here’s the rub: Dog walks again

"Fuey," usually spelled "phooey," was a slang word that meant something like, "I don’t agree with you" or the stronger, "You’re full of baloney!" Fuey chose to be an outdoor dog. He was permitted in the house occasionally, but he loved the outdoors.

Snow fell just for him! He would run down a snowy truck track and turn his broad, flat face to the side so the snow would shatter and cover him. That was fun.

One October morning, we woke to find Fuey paralyzed in the hind parts. He couldn’t wag his tail, move his legs or stand alone. Our first thought was that he had been run over or shot. However, there was not a single mark to indicate that anything had harmed him. I cuddled him and rubbed him and wouldn’t even think twice about euthanasia because he seemed to feel no pain.

In my training in physical education, I had studied anatomy, physiology and body mechanics - for people, of course. At the time of Fuey’s paralysis, I was studying body mechanics with Mae Kelly at the University of Missouri-Columbia. We had completed the section on massage for rehabilitation.

Fuey liked being rubbed, and I began to do more specific massages 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 so that he would drag on the other side. I felt that he didn’t even know I was doing the daily massage. I missed some days but never 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 the ground at the other end.

He’d be asleep, and a hawk would circle in the sky. Bam! He’d fly off the tall end of the porch with his hind legs dragging behind him. It was the same in November. Raw places on his legs became hard, thick callouses. During my long Christmas break from school and work, I gave him more attention.

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 out to see the faint motion he could do. And I redoubled my 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.

Sometime in February, he actually walked alone. The progress was fast from there on. By the end of the month, 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."

My courageous Pekingese never complained about my care and lived a nice long dog’s life.


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