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Patient of the Month February 2015

Dionne in Underwater Treadmill


In November of 1996, Mary Beth was presented with a gift that has not stopped giving: a 6-week old, white, fluffy pup, weighing in at 1.2 pounds.  Tiny and adorable as she was, she quickly asserted herself as the alpha member of the family. Her name comes from Dionne Warwick (diva) and Deion Sanders (dominant personality). Despite those attributes, Dionne has been mostly laid back all her life.  She is the epitome of unconditional love, except when it comes to dogs bigger than her.  She has a long-time habit of walking up to them and nipping at their nose, but because she’s small and fast, she always got away with it. It seems even dogs can have the Napoleon Complex!  (Spoil alert: this behavior has resumed.)

Dionne loves to dress up! Over the years, she has amassed quite the wardrobe, including matching collars and leashes.  As she goes on her walks, she has delighted so many people with her variety of outfits and is appropriately dressed for each holiday.  She enjoys the extra attention and bringing a bit of joy to others!

Last August, Dionne legs went out; she could not support herself and was literally dragging her back end.  Mary Beth was devastated and rushed her to her veterinarian for an answer.  X-rays showed she had four vertebrae with no cartilage in between. At age 17 and a heart murmur, there were not a lot of options, so they went home with anti-inflammatories and hoped for the best. After a few days, Mary Beth knew she needed to do more and was referred to Integrative Pet Care by her veterinarian. Until she could be seen by Dr. Zenoni and Julie, Mary Beth made a make-shift harness by using a wider collarand placing it near her hind legs for support.  She also started researching carts, fearing that it may come to that. Dionne being adorable

Being the little warrior that she is, Dionne took it all in stride! She continued to go outside on a regular basis and tried to move around as much as she could, often dragging herself around.

“I knew I would enjoy working with Mary Beth and Dionne from the moment I stepped in the room.  It was instantly obvious that Mary Beth was a dedicated mom who would go above and beyond for her dog.  Dionne is a hard little worker who has the spirit of a Great Dane!”  

-Dr. Deanne Zenoni

“From our first visit to IPC, I knew she was in great hands!  Dr. Zenoni and Julie did a thorough examination and asked pertinent questions.  They explained to me the treatments and provided handouts on each so I can read about them later.  As I was leaving, I was told a treatment plan would be sent the next day.  I looked at Julie, and asked ‘what do I do today’?  She understood and went and retrieved a full harness, showing me how to put it on and adjust the size.  Dionne’s only complaint was that it only came in red and would limit her wardrobe choices.  Dionne started with visits twice each week.  Thankfully, I was able to make an adjustment in my work schedule to get her to therapy during the week.  With all she was going through, I did not want to change her sleep/walk schedule.


“Treatments included acupuncture, laser, exercise, massage and underwater treadmill.  I had renewed hope, and saw improvement each week.  We also began doing exercises at home between visits.  After the weeks of treatment, the “draggy days” became less frequent.  I also noticed Dionne standing longer as she ate.  On a visit to the Vet for dermatitis, he reported that her heart murmur had improved.  I attributed that to her new aerobic activities.  

“At eight weeks, we were able to reduce her visits to one each week.  The full body harness was replaced with one that fits around the back legs.  It has now been about five months since our initial visit.  Dionne now stands the entire time she eats.  There are no more “draggy days”, and her balance continues to improve.  She has also resumed some of the activities she did prior to this episode, like pulling out her toys and tossing them, making a cave in her blanket, and climbing up to nap on her chair.  Today, I can take her out with a regular leash on most days.  Only snow and ice dictate the back-leg harness. I can’t be totally sure, but thought I saw her do a full body stretch the other day!”

-Mary Beth

Make a Difference!

We have asked our patient of the month to designate a group that they would like our clients and friends to donate to during their month long “reign.” This month, Dionne has asked that we tell you about a very special organization, Young At Heart. YAT’s goal is “To rescue and rehome senior dogs and cats, to educate the public on the benefits of adopting older pets and their care, to reduce the euthanasia rate for senior pets in the state of Illinois.” Please consider making a donation or volunteering for this great cause!