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Chocolate on the move! April 2008

April 1, 2008

Chocolate in AprilHello and welcome to another Chocolate update.  As you can see from this photo, he is walking well in his sling and is also still working out in the treadmill.  All of this is hard work for him and he tires easily.  He seems to be one of the happiest dogs I've ever seen and certainly has the will to run and romp around if his legs could only strengthen faster.
He was slowed a bit last week as he underwent castration.  The crew gave him a rest for a few days and made sure he was comfortable with pain medication.  It looks like the break did him well.  Also, Chocolate is becoming a bit spoiled.  Our registered veterinary technicians here have set up a bed for him in their office under a desk rather than back in the more noisy runs.
I got a call this morning from a sales representative that wants to donate, on behalf of the manufacturer, some special booties for Chocolate.  The booties will protect his feet from any rubbing on the floor surfaces in the hospital.  When they arrive, I will post an update and photos.

April 10:  When will Chocolate's hair grow back in?

As Chocolate continues to improve, a lot of his well-wishers that have seen his pictures and video have asked, "When will his hair grow back in?"
That's a great question.  First, recall his hair was shaved as part of the preparation for surgery, just like what is done when humans go to surgery, too.  How fast his hair will come back so that the shaving is not noticeable can vary quite a bit.
Consider that for all the time he was alone and on the run around the Tri-Cities, he used a lot of energy, experienced the deterioration of his front quarter muscles, and probably did not eat an optimal diet.  No doubt he did not get enough calories for the amount of energy he expended staying out of harm's way nor did he get all the nutrients he needed.  Thanks to the veterinarians at the Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in Kennewick, Wash., once Chocolate got to care, he was, and has been, getting an ideal diet.  You might want to know too, that Hills Science Diet provides most of the small animal food fed in WSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital so that we only have a cleaning and sanitation fee associated with handling food while animals are patients here.  Hill's food gifts each year—of which Chocolate is benefitting—amount to about $90,000 or more.
Now back to his hair.  Hair growth in dog's is actually a very complex process.  A dog's hair typically does not grow continuously.   A dog's hair grows in cycles much like human eyebrows do.  A new hair regrows alongside an old hair first in a process called anagen.  Soon afterwards the old hair falls out.  The intermediate phase of hair growth is called catagen.  Following that is telogen or the resting phase of a hair follicle.  During this time, the follicle goes dormant and the cycle starts again. So why don't we see bald dogs?  Because each hair follicle is not in the same growth phase at the same time.
It's going to take quite a while for Chocolate's hair to all be back in, but I think he'd agree the trade off for fine functioning forelegs and the warm care of people who care for him is worth it.

Get Well Chocolate

April 16: New fans salute Chocolate

Chocolate, the Chesapeake Bay retriever that ran for months on two broken front legs in the Tri-Cities, has touched the hearts of students at Eastgate elementary school in Kennewick, WA.
In fact, school counselor Sue Conrad was so moved by the story, that she now uses Chocolate's story as part of the school's character building curriculum that focuses on teaching respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness, and citizenship. "One animal's story contained all these concepts," writes Conrad, "The students' easily recognized the acts of kindness."
As part of the project, students created books of well wishes, and a poster for WSU veterinary surgeon Dr. Steve Martinez and his staff. (see photo) Many contain messages such as "I hope you get better," or "I wish that Chocolate fet (sic) is better." (see photo) Yet others reflect how this story has touched their young lives, "You are so brave," write one student, while others wrote "I love Chocolate!"
On behalf of Chocolate and the staff here at WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, our thanks to Eastgate Elementary School.

We love Chocolate too!

Messages to Chocolate

April 17 Chocolate gets new boots!

Chocolate, a stray Chesapeake Bay retriever from the Tri-Cities has a new personalized set of boots to wear for his continued rehabilitation here at WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine thanks to a generous gift from the owner of the company that makes them. Laurie Ketzenberg, owner and founder of Medivet, heard Chocolate's story and wanted to give him something special to wear. Chocolate has needed the rubber boots to protect his feet while recovering from surgery, and for use in WSU's underwater treadmill.  
The Medipaw was designed and manufactured to protect dogs and cats paws from the elements when they suffer either a front or hind leg injury that requires the area to remain clean and dry.  They are a waterproof, breathable boot with a durable sole. Although Chocolate might not need the boots 24 hours a day it will help on his walks in the spring months through rain and mud.  
The boots were hand delivered by Heather McCabe with MWI Veterinary Supply, who is a distributor for Medivet, and helped make the gift possible. "What inspired the donation was my visit to the Spring Conference when all the vet students commented on the Medipaw display I had at my booth.  Every student said "that's what Chocolate wears," said McCabe who then contacted the manufacturer, and the boots were on the way. Medivet has also donated several different size options for the vet students to use on future patients. 
As for Chocolate, he  couldn't be happier.

Chocolates New Boots

April 18 New challenges for Chocolate

WSU Team considers additional surgery options
As Chocolate continues his rehabilitation at WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, his strength is gradually returning to his front legs. Therapists see him becoming more comfortable moving his weight in to a more normal position.  However, he is not able to use his left paw as well as his right due to the abnormal fracture healing of his left forelimb.  (story continues below video)

Chasing his yellow ball. Chocolate's favorite exercise


WSU's veterinary orthopedic specialist Dr. Steve Martinez is concerned that  even after extensive physical therapy and the application of orthotics, the leg is still slightly rotated enough to cause Chocolate some mobility problems.  “We are now looking  at performing a corrective surgery on his left foreleg in the next 2 weeks that will help place Chocolate's left paw down on the ground better and similar to what we've achieved with his right paw, “said Dr. Martinez. “He definitely needs more surgical and physical therapy help from us, in order to help return better function to that leg.”
For now, Chocolate continues his daily routine. 10 to 20-minutes in WSU's underwater treadmill, along with other muscle building activities that can be as simple as a game of fetch.  So far, his progress looks good.

Washington State University