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Sadie and Her Wheeling Adventures

Aug 15, 2022 12:00:00 PM

Sadie and Her Wheeling Adventures

Sadie's DM Journey

Sadie is an 8 year old German Shepherd. IN January 2020 Sadie diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). Her mom Linda tried everything to stop the DM progression. "Although we attempted to slow the disease by hydrotherapy, laser treatments, swimming, exercises and numerous vitamins, and medications, By July 2020, Sadie had lost use of her right rear leg and had very little mobility with her left leg. It saddened me to watch my best friend lose her ability to walk. Most dogs with DM usually have total paralysis within 6 to 12 months of diagnosis. In August 2020, we purchased Sadie her  Walkin' Wheels wheelchair. "Even though Sadie has lost the ability to use both rear legs and rise on her own, her spirit has never stopped." With the help of her wheelchair, Sadie has been able to live her best life!

Watching Sadie walk in her new wheels made Sadie's mom realize what a difference a wheelchair made in Sadie's quality of life. Everywhere Sadie went she was meeting people who wanted to know her story. Inspiring Sadie's mom, Linda, to write a series of stories for children to learn about Sadie and her life in wheels. 

Advice from One DM Parent to Another

German Shepherd with DMMy Sadie was such a special dog, Sadie was unlike any dog I ever owned. She was loving, loyal and protective but a very gentle lady. She loved her stuffed animals and knew each by name. She loved to run and play with my granddaughter. She sat patiently as my granddaughter put jewelry on her and pretended to paint her nails. But her favorite activity was watching and chasing squirrels. When we couldn’t find her, we would always find her on my son’s bed. His room became known as Sadie’s bedroom.

She was only seven, when she was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). She was supposed to be with me for years and years. She was to grow old with me. She was my best friend, she loved me unconditionally. She was there when I had a good day and there when I had a bad one. She didn’t care if I gained a pound or had a bad hair day. She didn’t see the wrinkles. How could I watch what was going to happen to her over the next few months and how could I ever say goodbye.

When you realize the dog you love, your friend has been diagnosed with DM, you feel like you can’t breathe. You cry and cry. You will say I never heard of this disease. You will wonder what you could have done to prevent it. But after the shock has worn off and your sadness is controlled you need to take charge. You need to start learning as much as possible about this disease and prepare yourself for the various stages of the disease that lies ahead. You have to be strong for your friend.

Start by researching the disease. Keep reading and reading. Join one of several DM Facebook groups and ask questions to those who have been dealing with the disease. Listen to their experiences. View their videos and photos and offer support to those owners grieving over the recent loss of their dog. Start journaling day to day changes in your dog’s mobility and you’re feeling as you watch, it is better than screaming into your pillow. And pray for a cure for this disease.

Make a commitment to yourself and your dog that you will make the remaining time you share positive. Do not treat them as though there is something wrong. Never stop loving them. Make those next months and years the best you can.

German Shepherd Wheelchair

Through your research, you should learn that keeping your dog mobile for as long as possible is important. Exercise is critical to keeping them moving. Research veterinary practices to find one that offer Rehabilitation Therapies. These therapies should include hydrotherapy, laser therapy, balance and therapeutic exercises, massage, and home exercise. Consider acupuncture. If possible, locate a canine swimming pool for as an additional exercise modality.  Sadie's Rehab therapist Marah Eimer CCRP of Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, says "The big thing with dogs that have DM is to keep them moving! Exercises should be guided by a therapist or practitioner that is certified in rehab. Each dog is unique and the exercises need to be done correctly. Those that target the core are very important.  Others that focus on proprioception are also required but depending on the stage depends on the exercise. With a neurologic patient it is very important to not tire them out too much as that can hurt more than help. We have had a lot of success using e-stim- a machine that helps strengthen muscle. Under guidance this is sometimes owners can do everyday if the dog is amenable. Other treatments include low level laser therapy at high doses delivered with a class IV Laser. A recent study showed that laser can increase the overall lifespan and time walking.  Hydrotherapy, with an underwater treadmill, can also be a very useful tool in helping with maintaining strength as well as helping with gait pattern."  

Feed your dog a better diet. Some people recommend a raw diet. Discuss with your vet if your dog would benefit by any supplements like NAC, vitamins etc. Ask if continuing flea treatments will be harmful as their immune systems are compromised. Discuss the possible adverse effects of continuing vaccines especially with an elderly dog. There are some titers that can be performed.

To prevent UTIs place your dog on cranberry tablets. For bowels issues add pumpkin     (found in pet stores not the supermarket) or goats’ milk to their food.

Your dog may start dragging their foot, consider boots for your dog’s feet. As the dog become weaker and it becomes more difficult to walk, lay carpet runners over any floors not carpeted. Use yoga mats on cement porches, walkways. Purchase a harness that will allow you to be able to lift and support the dog for walking and bathroom issues. It can also be used for helping them get into vehicles. Consider building a ramp in areas of high steps.

They may no longer be able to stand to eat – help them to learn to eat in a lying position. Sit on the floor and hold their bowls steady for them. Make sure you check their water consumption, are they taking in enough water if they can’t walk to their water bowls.

Keep them groomed, even though they may no longer be able to be bathe standing, consider using dry shampoos. Meticulously clean female dogs. There are wipes available in pet stores.

If they begin to have urinary or fecal issues, consider diapers and lay Vinyl tablecloths to protect floors. I had tablecloths of every color and season. Make sure bedding is continually evaluated. As the disease progresses the dog will have more difficulty getting onto dog mats and you will need to lower their bedding. Keep it clean and check often for unitary leakage. But make them comfortable.

When you dog can no longer support themselves. Add wheels to your dog’s life. Plan how do you get in and outside in the wheels – build a ramp if needed oversteps. Once your dog has wheels – use them. Your dog will want to take walks so walk with them. When people ask why your dog is in wheels – tell them about this disease. Tell them about bad breeders. Encourage owners with senior dogs (without DM) to consider wheels and mobility aids to add years to their pet’s lives

 The Importance of Sadie's Story

 Linda knew that Sadie was special and wanted to share her story. Linda says, "This story introduces you to Sadie and her group of neighborhood canine friends. At the age of eight, Sadie is diagnosed with a condition that affects her legs and her playing days but her friends never leave her side. With the help of two boxers, Sadie is introduced to the world of wheels. With her pink wheels Sadie’s becomes a 2 Wheel Wonder Dog and her world is reopened to new adventures. Sadie’s story helps the reader learn that everyone is unique and being different is okay."

Linda hopes that by sharing Sadie's story  will help people better understand that they should fight for their dog and there are options beyond euthanasia. "My hope is that this book will also communicate to pet owners with injured, senior, or disabled pets that they do not need to be euthanized. There are many rehabilitative services and products including your wheelchairs that could offer their animals productive and full lives."

Sadie's Mom 

Sadie and Her New Wheels bookMy purpose for writing the book, 'Sadie and Her New Wheels' was  a way to tell Sadie, my best friend’s story and educate the public on DM as well as other therapies/devices.

Linda hopes that this book will be the first in a series of books chronicling Sadie's adventures. In the future she hopes to write many more stories in an effort to teach children about loyal friendships, facing challenges, and loving one another.


Sadie's Adventures Continue in Book 2Sadie 2-1

Sadie's Beach Vacation is the newest book featuring Sadie and her Walkin' Wheels wheelchair. In Sadie and her beach vacation, kids will learn to be kind to others and help those in need despite their differences. Sadie and her friends also teach the importance of keeping our beaches and oceans clean!

Both 'Sadie and Her New Wheels' and 'Sadie's Beach Vacation' are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.


Tags: Pet Tails