Did you know that you can learn just about anything from watching a YouTube video? Seriously, there are people who film instructional information on every subject imaginable and the one I stumbled across, early during Sophie’s illness, saved my dog’s life. “I learned how to help a paralyzed dog use the bathroom, on YouTube.”
Once Sophie’s hind legs stopped functioning altogether, my husband Ken and I realized that we had two very big obstacles to overcome to manage her care. We had to come up with a way to move our dog from room to room around the house and we had to learn how to express her bladder to keep away potential infections.
The first part of our challenge was quickly solved when we found the “Walkabout Rear Harness.” The product works in the same way that “towel walking” does, but the harness fit snuggly around Sophie’s hind quarters and stayed in place with a Velcro strap. The handles on each side made it possible for us to lift Sophie and easily maneuver her around the house and outside. We used the harness throughout the five years of her illness.
The second important issue of helping our paralyzed dog use the potty wasn’t quite as easy to solve. For a short period of time we tried doggie diapers, but Sophie’s paralysis seemed to freeze up the ability of her bladder to empty on its own and the diapers were a moot point. We knew we had to learn how to manually empty her bladder or risk her developing an infection or worse.
We turned to our veterinarian and all I can say is, God bless his patience. He tried to explain the process to me and how to tell if Sophie had a full bladder, but the vet’s technique just didn’t make sense to me. He suggested that Sophie lay down during the process, but my dog had spent the past 10 years standing upright to pee. She hated the idea of Ken and I making her lay down to press on her bladder. The three of us struggled with the veterinarian’s method for several weeks and then decided to look for an alternate solution.
In exasperation I turned to the Internet for help and to my surprise and delight several YouTube videos popped up on the subject. Each of them showed various ways to express a dog’s bladder while the animal was standing, but one video in particular was perfect for our needs. It was filmed by a woman who had a female dog that was paralyzed and she used the same rear harness we had bought to maneuver her dog outside. She explained very clearly how to keep the harness in one hand while you lifted the dog and pressed on her bladder with the other hand. Her instructions were simple, practical and crystal clear about the dog’s anatomy.
I took Sophie outside to our lawn and followed the new method exactly as the woman described. It worked like a charm. There was no stress to my dog because she was in a familiar position and the pee flowed from her body like a normal dog.
From that day forward, Sophie and I trekked outside four times a day to express her bladder. No matter what the weather conditions were we went outside as soon as she woke up in the morning, again around noon, a few minutes after dinner and before she went to sleep at night. The ritual was also a great way for Sophie to get some exercise and keep the muscle tone in her upper body.
We continued to use the information from the YouTube video for the next five years. The woman who filmed it will never know how grateful we are for the training she provided, but without her help our family probably could not have gone ahead to take care of our dog.
So the first lesson I learned from my paralyzed dog was, “You can learn just about anything on YouTube.”