Plans for Chocolate to be released from WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital have been put on hold for at least two weeks after he began showing some signs of hesitation of using his front legs. The stray Chesapeake Retriever from the Tri-Cities began limping and regressing in the use of his recently repaired legs this last Monday. “It's disappointing because of the progress he had made,” said Dr. Steve Martinez, WSU veterinary orthopedic surgeon. “However, after careful reexamination of Chocolate we've concluded that he appears to be suffering from sore feet,” according to Dr. Martinez. Chocolate's paw pads are very soft and not callused like normal dogs due to the fact that he had spent a very long time not using his front feet for walking. Added Dr. Martinez, “The problem appears to be due to the fact that over the last several weeks he has been using his front legs almost too well for the current condition of his front paw pads.” “We feel it's in his best interest to begin a new series of therapies aimed at easing his pain, and helping retrain him to again use his front legs fully again.”
Students notice that Chocolate began to shift his weight back to his hind legs again, and was losing interest in even his most favorite activities such as chasing his yellow ball two weeks ago. With his front feet now in special booties he is already making great progress compared to last week. WSU veterinary student Sara Dobry says these simple tools are working tremendously, adding “he has really perked up again and is showing signs of using his foot the proper way.”
Chocolate is receiving small amounts of pain reliever to help his in his recovery. His current treatment includes stretching, exercise, and a return to the underwater treadmill. “If he continues to improve, I don't see why he couldn't be released before the end of July,” said Dr. Martinez.
July 8: Chocolate is leaving WSU, heading home to the Tri-Cities
PULLMAN, Wash. – After 4 months of surgery and rehabilitation at WSU, "Chocolate," a rescued Chesapeake Bay retriever is heading back to the Tri Cities.
The abandoned dog was seen roaming the fields north of Pasco last winter; suffering from numerous fractures to his front legs, yet was able to survive on his own by getting around primarily on his back legs. Now, after three surgeries, and months of intensive rehabilitation, Chocolate is ready to go to a new home.
"We couldn't be more pleased with his progress," said WSU veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steve Martinez, who oversaw Chocolate's recovery. Surgery was required to repair the old breaks that had healed improperly, and left both limbs twisted and virtually unusable. "Once both legs were moving properly, we could focus our attention on rebuilding his muscle strength and literally re-teach him how to walk correctly," said Dr. Martinez.
The WSU team credits its new underwater treadmill as being a critical element in restoring Chocolate's strength. In the past few months, his sessions have helped rebuild lost muscle mass in his front shoulders.
"We absolutely could not have done this without the underwater treadmill," said Lori Lutskas, a licensed veterinary technician and WSU's veterinary physical rehabilitation specialist. "This was critical in his recovery."
The new device allows physical activities in varying depths of water while providing buoyancy for gradual weight-bearing to allow motion and bone repair to progress simultaneously. The underwater treadmill was recently added to WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital thanks to generous gifts from two grateful donors to the college.
Despite his successes, Chocolate has more work ahead of him. "He will still require continued stretching and physical therapy," said Dr. Martinez. "We will certainly miss him around here."
Chocolate will be returned to the care of Dr. Janine Swailes and her team from Meadow Hills Veterinary Center, in Kennewick, Wash., Dr. Swailes' practice first took in the injured dog before transferring it to WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital for definitive care. Their efforts to raise more than $25,000 for Chocolate's care led to a special President's Award from the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association. The clinic has identified two families that are willing to adopt Chocolate and help him complete his physical therapy.
July 9: Chocolate says goodbye to WSU
Pullman - To a somewhat tearful goodbye, Chocolate a rescued Chesapeake Bay retriever is heading back to the Tri Cities. Chocolate was taken back home in style, riding in a donated limousine. "Oh I think he's going to have a great life," said Dr. Janine Swailes, the Kennewick area veterinarian who first took in Chocolate. Adding, "I think he deserves a great life given all he's been through.
The event was bittersweet for some who had grown attached to Chocolate these past four months. Their advice to any future owner is to earn Chocolate's trust first, and he'll follow you anywhere. "If he likes you, he will work hard for you," said 3rd year WSU veterinary student Sara Dobry. "That's been the thing for me just bonding with him. I was really glad I got to work with him. It's especially neat to be able to send him home."
Chocolate was first brought to WSU after the abandoned dog had been seen roaming the fields north of Pasco last winter; suffering from numerous fractures to his front legs.
Surgery was required to repair the old breaks that had healed improperly, and left both limbs twisted and virtually unusable. "We're very happy. This was more then we could have imagined," said WSU veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steve Martinez. "He certainly has exceeded my expectations."
Chocolate's WSU Veterinary Rehabilitation Team
The next step will be in finding Chocolate a permanent home. Dr. Swailes has identified a few families and will be working with them to see which one is the best fit. "We even had a call from a soldier in Iraq, it was just amazing," said Dr. Swailes. "I was just astonished at how many people this story really touched their hearts and wanted to help him out. Hopefully we can find the perfect place."
Several members of the WSU rehabilitation team were on hand to wave goodbye, as Chocolate and his limo drove away. Said one, "It just won't be the same around here without him."
July 30: The Best of Chocolate
"Our special thanks to all of the Chocolate lovers who have been following his story these past few months. We have put together a slide show that looks back at his time here at WSU: From the first day… to his surgeries… to his rehabilitation… to his smile that captured the hearts of many. Thank you for your support."
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"How will we help the next Chocolate? Please consider joining us with your contribution to our Good Samaritan Fund… designed especially to help those patients who's owners may not have the means to save their animals."