Connor is a five year old German Shepherd who was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia at nine months old. At the suggestion of a surgeon, his mom Jennifer decided to try rehabilitation first due to his young age and high energy level.
Connor met with Dr. Amber Ihrke and Valerie who prescribed a rehabilitation program that included strengthening and pain management modalities. Connor is not a big fan of strangers, so it took a little bit for him to trust his new rehabilitation team. “Although he was not a huge fan of manual therapy in the beginning, Connor learned to tolerate it, which helped increase his hip and shoulder range of motion” says Valerie.
“When I started working with Connor we would take 5-10 minutes for him to get comfortable with me before we could start his sessions. Now, he and I are the best of friends! I look forward to his sessions as does he. He rarely has a bad day, but can recover quickly if he does. Connor is a big baby and I love working with him. He trusts that I only want to help him, and you can tell he enjoys his time in the clinic.” – Katie, Connor’s therapist
“Connor just celebrated his fifth birthday on December 17th. At this point he does not and may never need surgery on his hips. This alone is amazing. At nine months it was almost guaranteed that he would need surgery with in the first few years of life. He has had a few injuries over the years and each time Dr. Ihrke and Katie have never hesitated once to make sure he got the exact care he needed. He runs and plays with his pit pull sister with no problems or pain. He acts like he is still a silly puppy.”- Jennifer, Connor’s mom.
“Connor has become one of our regulars and we look forward to keeping him happy and moving well as the years continue.” – Dr. Amber Ihrke
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Connor has asked us to tell you about Half-Way Home Animal Rescue.
Our Mission is to ensure that every animal is treated with the respect that they deserve; to educate our communities on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets; in order to solve the pet overpopulation problem; the humane treatment and care of all animals, and to help the many animals that are being put to death in our communities every day, due to no fault of their own.
Walter is an 8 year old Dachshund who we first met 3 years ago following his first Hemilaminectomy (back) surgery. His mom, Dr. Julia Georgesen from Blum Animal Hospital, knew rehabilitation was a crucial part of recovery, so she came to IPC for an evaluation.
Walter met with Dr. Deanne Zenoni and Emma who prescribed an 8 week treatment program that included twice weekly underwater treadmill & therapeutic exercise/laser sessions. Walter looked great after completing his first rehabilitation program, so his mom decided to take a break. Unfortunately, Walter needed a second surgery last year and he came back to IPC soon after.
Walter was again prescribed a twice weekly program of underwater treadmill & therapeutic exercise/laser sessions. This time his mom was taught how to do certain exercises and massage techniques to extend his treatment at home.
Walter looked fantastic after his 8 week program, but Dr. Georgesen decided to continue coming once weekly as part of our maintenance program which she says “is great for Walter’s health and he loves going”!
“I’ve known Dr. Georgesen on a professional level for years as we share many cases. Working with her and Walter on a personal level has been such an enjoyable experience!” -Dr. Deanne Zenoni
Walter diligently comes to IPC every Monday and spends the day with us while him mom is at work. While not in his therapy sessions, he can be found eating lunch with his therapist Emma or cuddling with our patient service coordinators. It’s no secret that Walter is a staff favorite!
“What can I say about Walter… I love him!” -Emma
During the work week, Walter goes to work with his mom and little brother Kevin at Blum Animal Hospital. At home he indulges in his favorite activities, sleeping close to the fire & eating.
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Walter has asked us to tell you about where his little brother Kevin was adopted from, Midwest Dachshund Rescue!
Midwest Dachshund Rescue is a 501(c)3 all-volunteer organization that was founded in 2003. We help our communities (individuals, families and humane societies/shelters) safely rehome and rehabilitate dachshunds and dachshund mixes.
Rocky’s journey started almost 3 years ago when his mom was asked to take a puppy to get x-rays while volunteering at PAWS Chicago. Mia’s heart melted when she saw the 9 month old puppy who was so sweet even though he was injured and immediately volunteered to foster him. It turned out that Rocky’s leg was so badly injured that he required an amputation. After fostering him through his weeks of recovery, Mia decided he had to join her family!
Mia was understandably nervous about Rocky’s future quality of life so she decided to make an evaluation at Integrative Pet Care for preventative care.
“As soon as I met Dr. Ridley & Laura, I knew I was in good hands. They explained what would be ideal to aid in his recovery and addressed the typical concerns they had with tripods. Afterwards I understood a lot more about actions I could take to be proactive in his recovery and prevent any further injury which was really important to me.” -Mia
“Rocky is a different dog since starting at Integrative Pet Care. People don’t even recognize he’s a tripod because he stands so straight and tall, runs like a maniac, and walks with so much confidence. He’s gained an incredible job amount of core strength and muscle throughout! He hardly ever falls over and often stands on his one back leg to look out the window or check for treats on the counter. He’s naturally a very active and curious dog so we walk a lot and get a lot of exercise to keep him entertained. Luckily the muscles he’s developed because of our work at IPC have allowed him to keep up with all this activity! He loves training and learning tricks, and hunting rats in the park.” -Mia
“Rocky’s core strength is incredible for a tripod. I love working with him in the gym because he can and will do anything I ask of him. I’m constantly coming up with new exercises to challenge him and he does it all without messing up his hairdo!” -Laura, Rocky’s therapist
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Rocky has asked us to tell you about Sit Stay Read.
SitStayRead’s mission is to improve literacy skills and foster a love of learning in children in low-income neighborhoods. Founded in 2003, SitStayRead brings teams of trained volunteers and Certified Reading Assistance Dogs into 16 Chicago Public Schools in some of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods
A little over a year ago, Tilly’s mom Kirsten noticed she was having trouble with one of her rear legs. After a few inconclusive vet visits, an evaluation at Integrative Pet Care was recommended. “With Tilly being a senior corgi, my mind immediately went to Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), and I panicked” remembers Kirsten. After meeting with Dr. Ridley, a twice weekly program of therapeutic exercise & underwater treadmill was prescribed. After rocking it for 8 weeks with her therapist Laura, Tilly graduated to a maintenance plan of once weekly therapies. Tilly is incredibly enthusiastic about her therapy (especially exercise) and absolutely hates taking breaks!
We asked her mom to tell us a little about the daily life of Tilly: “She is a lazy loaf of bread at home. She loves sleeping in strange positions, including but not limited to underneath/in between her beds (corgi sandwich), belly up in the middle of the floor, next to the wall with her feet seemingly holding the wall up, and many more! She loves begging for snacks and working for treats, and I call her a canine Roomba because she is so motivated for any little food scrap. She loves being outside and going on road trip adventures. She’s traveled to both coasts several times, and even enjoys a quick trip around the block. She’s a fantastic copilot!”
“If you’ve seen the hashtags on social media #corgitude and #corgioncorgistrong, and you have the opportunity to meet Tilly, you’ll completely understand both of them! Tilly starts with her ‘corgitude’ by telling me just how excited she is to start her therapy sessions each week. They don’t bother to tell me Tilly has arrived, because I hear her bark. I then come up and see a smiling face as she leads me back to the gym. She is a strong, stumpy, little gal, and gives each session her all, and has no idea that DM is supposed to slow her down. I’m proud to be Tilly’s therapist, and I know #corgination is proud of Tilly too!” -Laura, Tilly’s therapist
“IPC has been nothing short of amazing. Tilly is now a little over a year out from her diagnosis, and is still walking on her own! The progression of DM has been so slow, thanks to their help. She’s started to slow down and have some more weakness, but without IPC I can only imagine we’d be much farther into the progression of the disease. It makes me happy to see her so excited and engaged while she is at IPC. They always go above and beyond to help us and make sure Tilly is getting the care she needs.” -Kirsten
CorgiAid is a nonprofit organization founded to provide financial assistance to corgis and corgi mixes. We help out those who rescue dogs from shelters or other non-permanent homes, then foster them until a new home is found. Medical and other expenses for these dogs can become high.
QBSDR is a rescue that saves special needs corgis and corgi mixes from California. We put great emphasis on rehabilitating our dogs medically and managing their behaviors through training, while getting to know their needs and quirks in order to find them the right home.
In 2015, Keewee fell off a golf cart and was not weight bearing on the right rear leg. It was found that Keewee had suffered a fracture of right tibia and had 2 surgical repairs in May and then an additional surgery in August.
“Keewee had one of the worst fractures I had ever seen. Her recovery was truly a collaborative effort of our rehab team, her surgeon and most importantly her owners. To see Keewee running and playing with her family and enjoying life after four intense months of therapy is one of the greatest comebacks I’ve witnessed in 20+ years in veterinary medicine.”
– Dr. Amber Ihrke, Keewee’s IPC veterinarian
“I wanted to let you all know how very lucky and blessed we feel to have found you all. We have been on a very long stressful journey with Keewee since May to say the least. She has officially graduated and I think we are a little in shock! The time and thought that you all put into Keewee’s care means so much to our family. We were thinking we were going to lose her since amputation was not an option for us. Her injuries were so severe and devastating. To watch Keewee go through so much trauma made our heads spin and only to keep receiving bad news. I was lying in bed one night and thought to myself….If Keewee was a human what would I do-get a second opinion. After putting the word out to multiple dog loving friends and asking physicians I work with “what should I do with my dog” my girlfriend who is a vet tech that works at one of the offices That Dr. Ihrke and Val have given information to suggested we start there-we decided to give it a shot. Mike and I probably seemed pretty reluctant when we first met everyone, but it was another big decision that had to be made for Keewee ASAP to hopefully preserve her leg and another financial decision for our family. WOW!! We sure made the right decision!”
– Gina Schmidt, Keewee’s mom
Dr. Amber Ihrke referred Keewee to Dr. Jankovitz at Premier Veterinary Group in Crestwood for a surgical consultation. Keewee’s owners were afraid of amputation but Dr. Jankovitz was able to calm their fears.
“Dr. Ihrke thank you for sending us to Dr. Jankovits. I can say that I’m very in tune with Keewee-she is very high maintenance without a fractured leg so along this ride I’ve learned a lot more from her. First off- if she likes a stranger and how she responds to them. While we were sitting in the waiting room waiting to meet Dr. Jankovits in august one week after we were told her leg may have to be amputated, Keewee was on my lap with her black sling on, with other dogs and people in the waiting room and you’ve all seen her-she’s like a baby and those type of distractions don’t phase her. Dr. Jankovits walked out to the waiting room and Keewee’s head popped up and she watched his every move. She liked him. He looked at her and I whispered to Keewee-“is that the man that’s going to fix your leg.” Mind you at the other facilities she wouldn’t even look at the people there and you could tell she was very agitated. When we were in the room with Dr. Jankovits deciding what our options were Keewee laid by his feet which also means Keewee likes you otherwise her nose is shoved in the corner! Dr. Jankovits- you squatted down and started petting Keewee. I had tears in my eyes. We had options and hope again.”
“What can I say about Keewee? Keewee is just Keewee. She came to us with an unstable rear limb that her owners were trying to avoid having amputated. Through Keewee’s stubbornness, her owners’ hard work at home and rehab through IPC, Keewee not only kept her leg but returned to her crazy antics at home. Keewee is an example of a patient who greatly benefited from rehab, even though she never really enjoyed coming to see us. I loved seeing how Keewee progressed with rehab, especially watching her spunky personality return as she felt better in her leg. I knew we had done our job at IPC, when her owner sent us a video of Keewee army crawling under a bed and then running around the room barking at the camera. Keewee was her old self once again!”
“You are all amazing at what you do and we the Schmidt family can’t thank you enough for all the time and love you put into Keewee. She is our silly little bully that we love so very much. Please pass along to both of your staffs how much all of their care and compassion has meant to us through Keewee’s journey. I know Keewee will continue to have checkups with you both, but I just wanted you all to know from the bottom of our hearts how much everything you have all done for her means to us. It’s been such a long road and it’s surreal that she has officially graduated and we can breathe and relax a little. Keewee is and always has been a very silly bully. She goes wherever she can with us and loves being part of the action. Keewee loves to snuggle! She is amazing with our kids and a big part of our family and she knows it!”
Make a difference!
This month, Keewee would like you to know about Paws Chicago, a shelter in the heart of the city that is also a resource to the animal community. If you make a donation it would make Keewee’s day!
Ski has become such an IPC staple on Thursday nights over the past 8 1/2 years, that it would feel empty without him! Who else could impress us by swimming 20 minutes against the resistance jets while playing volleyball with his dad or show us his fancy new tricks in the gym? Ski is a super star athlete who originally came to us back in 2007 for a CCL injury. He has not only trained in, but has earned titles in a number of activities including agility, treibball, tricks, nosework & herding. Rich and Ski aren’t in it for the titles, but just love training until they achieve proficiency.
Ski was always an active dog who was enrolled in a variety of activities, so it was devastating when he came up lame after a walk one night. When we first met Ski in July of 2007, his dad Rich was weighing the pros and cons of having surgery to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Ultimately Rich decided against surgery and opted to pursue physical rehabilitation instead. That was a decision that Rich said he would do over and over again. Ski started an intensive rehab program that included twice weekly visits for underwater treadmill and therapeutic exercise. Even though he wasn’t the biggest fan of the underwater treadmill, he diligently did it and it’s now his favorite therapy! Ski took to the exercises right away since it was similar to some of his agility training! Soon enough Ski was inventing his own exercises and impressing us all with his strength and drive.
Soon enough Ski graduated from a rehabilitation program and became a member of our maintenance club which keeps him in tip top form for the various activities that he does!
“Ski and Rich make a fabulous team. I enjoy a challenge and Ski always keeps me on my toes!”
–Emma, Ski’s current therapist
Ribbons from his 1st agility competition
Ski has participated in the following sport activities:
Ski also aided Rich in becoming a certified clicker trainer (KPA-CTP) from the Karen Prior Academy.
“Trainers, vets, & sports trainers all agree that his core strength has allowed Ski to embrace so many different activities without injury. I credit all our work at IPC with Ski’s amazing condition as he nears 11 years old.”
-Rich, Ski’s dad
Rich believes that the wide range of therapies Ski has received has helped him get through minor setbacks. A flair up of lameness resolved with a series of Laser treatments, while Acupuncture and Chiropractic services have seemed to help as well. Rich’s goal from day 1 was to make Ski’s legs individually strong enough to do the work of two if that was ever needed, which has been the case over the past several years. Whether it was the right (non-surgically repaired CCL knee) or left leg that had an issue, the other one was always strong enough to do the job of two.
“Ski is like the energizer bunny when any obstacle gets in his way- he just keeps going & going & going!”
–Dr. Ridley, Ski’s IPC vet
Make a difference!
Each month we ask our POTM to choose an animal related organization to spotlight during his or her “reign”. Ski has asked us to tell you about Alive Rescue.
“We believe that our responsibility is first to the animals that are in local open-access shelters with a high probability of being euthanized. We primarily take in animals from shelters with high euthanasia rates in Chicago and the surrounding area. We follow through on our commitment that every animal deserves a full life by choosing to take in animals that other adoption organizations may overlook, including seniors, unpopular breeds, and pets with special needs”
IPC is raising awareness for Alive Rescue by jumping into Lake Michigan January 17th. Click here to donate to our team!
At Integrative Pet Care we see pets with a diversity of conditions and all of our patients inspire us with their resilience, but our three-legged “tripods” consistently amaze us with their tenacity and joy for life! With some basic lifestyle modifications and a customized rehabilitation plan, tripods can live happy, comfortable lives.
Some three-legged pets are born with congenital abnormalities such as complete or partial lack of a limb. There are also several disorders that can necessitate amputation of a limb, such as traumatic injury or cancer. At IPC we see pets who are missing either front or back limbs and we even see a patient who is missing one of each!
Aala balances herself on the theraball with ease (and the help of a treat)
Tripods face unique challenges in mobility due to alterations in balance and increased load to their remaining limbs. At IPC we focus on therapies that improve balance, strengthen core muscles, maintain healthy joints and soft tissues and stay fit to avoid injury. Home care and proper assistive devices can also help tripods with their mobility. Non-slip floor coverings and harnesses can make a big difference in these pets’ lives (see links below for resources).
After her front limb amputation, Aala adjusted almost immediately, taking on stairs only 12 to 24 hours after surgery. Her parents on the other hand had a more difficult time adapting both to Aala’s new challenges as well as their own uncertainty.
“She had an odd stride in her back legs after the amputation and after ruling out anything medical, it was suggested we try rehabilitation. However, while she has become so much stronger and her stride is now seamless and strong, a lot of the rehab process seemed to help us the most. The whole amputation process was a complete unknown for us. We had no idea what was normal adaption, what changes we should expect or what was okay to do or not do, both for her physically and for us as her caregivers. We learned how to better care for her (at IPC) and also it helped us see all that she could do, despite the surgery. When you go through such a big surgery, seeing all these abilities keeps spirits high.”
-Stewart, Aala’s dad
Henry rests during his session in the resistance pool
Henry, a 13 year old pit mix, is a survivor. This guy has been through a lot, including a cruciate ligament tear and several cancer diagnoses. In 2012, Henry’s left hind limb was amputated due to bone cancer and 11 weeks later he came to IPC. His mom had already made a few modifications for Henry, adding recycled tire tread to the stairs in their home and a harness to assist him. We started working on strengthening Henry’s core and remaining 3 legs with targeted Therapeutic Exercises and walks in the Underwater Treadmill. Henry eventually transitioned to swims in the Resistance Pool and continues to receive Massage and Acupuncture treatments to keep him moving comfortably.
“He’s an incredibly strong dog to start with, so I knew once we began targeting his core muscles and working on his balance he’d respond well. I feel like he’s more confident on the stairs, which is huge since we live on the third floor of a walk-up! IPC gave me the great idea of covering my hardwood floors with yoga mats, and now he can zoom around the house without worrying about slipping.”
–Christine, Henry’s mom
IPC regular and dog-trainer, Emily Stoddard, recently added a new member to her pack- Belgian malinois, Falcor. At 6 months old Falcor had a partial front limb amputation due to trauma of an existing congenital abnormality. Falcor has adapted well to being 3-legged and his swims in the pool keep him strong. To manage the tension he gets from compensating for his amputation, Falcor has Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy (VSMT or “Chiropractic”) as well.
Fal sleeps off his hydro session
“Don’t know what to say other than my tri is awesome! Everyone that meets him feels bad for him, but what they don’t know is that he is the smartest problem solver of my crew with a personality to match.
He doesn’t miss his leg one bit! Falcor is busting stereotypes training to do agility, nose work, and protection sports, so you can see it also doesn’t prohibit him from doing the things he loves. Three legs and he still out runs most every dog he comes across! Out smarts them too! People gave up on Fal, thinking he wouldn’t amount to much due to his birth defect. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to prove them wrong!”
-Emily, Falcor’s mom
Bopper, a young English lab, sustained a traumatic injury while in his original household that required a left front limb amputation. A month after surgery, he found his forever home and his owners brought him to IPC for an evaluation and to learn what maintenance therapies he would need to stay strong. Some modifications to Bopper’s lifestyle helped him to increase his mobility, including a weight loss plan. Maintaining a slim physique is extremely important for all pets, but particularly for three-legged ones. A good harness, booties for traction, a ramp for getting on and off the bed and a therapy plan including Therapeutic Exercise, VSMT and Hydrotherapy were recommended. Bopper has since lost weight, goes for longer walks and has a smoother gait!
Rocky is awesome in the gym for his therapeutic exercises
In September of 2014, Rocky had his left hind leg amputated after a soft tissue injury. About 2 months later, he was evaluated at IPC. Rocky was a happy 1 year old poodle mix who loved to run and chase squirrels. However, he occasionally had trouble getting up, especially on slick surfaces.
“I knew that because he had his surgery at a young age he still had a lot of muscle mass to be developed and I wanted to make sure I could help him support his weight comfortably. Even though he gets around just fine, I wanted to take it to the professionals who could help him strengthen the right areas to prevent any other injury. Working on his core strength helps stabilize him and build muscles that he otherwise wouldn’t be training. I know he is a lot less wobbly because of the therapy he’s had. Not only have I learned so much about his physical needs, but he loves it! He won’t get off the obstacle courses!”
-Mia, Rocky’s mom
Therapists at IPC started Rocky on a program of focused Therapeutic Exercises to improve his strength, endurance and coordination. Currently Rocky continues maintenance therapy at IPC, working out in the gym as well as receiving much-deserved Therapeutic Massage.
“He was around 7 months old, and was extremely active and he wasn’t going to let anything slow him down. Not even major surgery. I have a distinct memory of the moment I took off his surgery cone, and he looked down at his incision and was kind of surprised, like “wait a minute…,” and then that was it. I realized animals don’t have an emotional attachment to their limbs like humans do. He knows he is a little unbalanced but he doesn’t mind. “
Dr. Ridley’s little guy, Lorenzo, had his left hind leg amputated due to a congenital abnormality. Needless to say, he has no problem getting around and into trouble.
Tips and Resources
Because balance is off, having slick floors presents a challenge to tripods. Getting around and getting up and down from a sit or lay can be very difficult without good footing. Yoga mats, carpet squares and area rugs with a good grip on the underside can be used strategically to help your pet navigate your floors and stairs. Also make sure their bed rests on a surface with good traction so that they can get on and off safely.
Yoga mats- if you have long hallways or large areas to cover consider purchasing a yoga mat roll. It is easily cut to size (or shape) and comes in a variety of colors- yogadirect.com carries a good variety.
Carpet tiles- these are also easily customizable and easy to replace. Flor and Home Depot reliably stock these in a variety of colors and textures.
A little help getting up and down stairs, in and out of the car or even at the end of a long walk goes a long way! A strong harness with a well placed handle helps your pet and your back.
(please check with your veterinarian before selecting a harness to make sure it is the proper fit)
Dr. Buzby’s Toe Grips
It’s pretty easy to cover slippery floors at home, but daily life may mean encountering surfaces that impede your pet’s confidence. Your pet may be a good candidate for toe grips, learn more at www.toegrips.com.
Support and Success Stories
For more support, resources and stories of happy tripods, visit tripawds.org!