Forrest is a 12-1/2 year old German Shorthaired Pointer. He was rescued when he was about 18 months old. For the past 11 years, he has been a happy, healthy and active GSP that has been surrounded by an abundance of love from his family. Forrest belongs to two of our volunteers, and we asked them to tell us his story to bring awareness and hope to others that may be experiencing something similar with their dog.
“About a year or so ago, Forrest started showing signs of weakness in his back legs, and after seeing a couple of special vets, he was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs.
We did extensive research into food supplements and diets and tried the ones we felt might work for Forrest. Nothing seemed to help. His health continued to decline and we took him to our Vet. A preliminary diagnosis of degenerative disc disease was made, however, this could not be safely confirmed as Forrest has a heart murmur and visits to the vet are quite stressful for him. His heart condition makes him a poor candidate for anesthesia and we didn’t want to put him through the traumatic experience of an MRI. A decision was made to treat his symptoms without putting him through any more stress.
We have been able to manage his pain with Gabapentin, Metacam and Tramadol, also giving him Adequin shots recommended by our vet, but his mobility condition continued to get worse. We agonized about his quality of life and we tried to decide if we were doing right by this wonderful dog who we both love so dearly.
Forrest stumbled and fell, but always while trying to retrieve a “squeaky ball” from the toy basket or trying to greet us when we came home in the evening. His zest for life and his amazing spirit was intact in spite of his pain and immobility and he always ate all of his dinner.
We had been looking at carts for dogs, sometimes referred to as dog wheelchairs, for several weeks. I finally decided that it was time to try one. It came within a few days and began trying to get Forrest accustomed to it. Forrest can be very skittish, but for some reason, the cart didn’t bother him. We went for short walks at first, gradually increasing the distance as he built up the strength in his front legs. He can use his rear legs, but they are barely touching the ground, allowing the cart to bear most of the weight his rear legs would normally support.
We ended up ordering a different set of wheels that would be better for grass and sand. The larger circumference also made it easier for him to roll over curbs, bumps and the feet of everyone he meets. He meets lots of people, most of them lamenting that they wished they had known about dog carts for a dog that they once had. People take his photo all the time and he has become accustomed to all of the compliments and attention he gets.
Most people feel that when their dogs can’t walk any longer that their only choice is to let them go. We want to give people hope that there is something else out there they can try to prolong the years for their otherwise healthy pet.
Forrest is regaining the muscle tone in his rear legs and, most importantly, he doesn’t have to be left behind when we take his sisters to the beach or park. His cart was the best purchase we have ever made”.
11 years ago, Forrest was given a second chance to be in a loving home. We want to help others have that opportunity as well, and we are happy to announce that Forrest and his wheels has joined the California GSP Rescue Team, participating in this years Race For The Rescues in Orange County, a 5K, 10k run, 1K Dog Walk and Kids’ Fun Run on November 16th. This event supports the California GSP Rescue and other local non-profit animal welfare organizations that annually save the lives of thousands of dogs, cats, horses, and also this year, marine mammals as well.
We are hoping that Forrest’ participation will raise awareness for disabled vets, and also inspire other pets with disabilities that they can do almost anything other pets can do!
Here is a sneak peak of Forrest training for the race!