With a comedic personality and a need for speed, Duke the pug is receiving therapeutic care to help him get around comfortably when his neurologic condition slows him down.
Duke was rescued by Pacific Pug Rescue when his owners felt they could no longer care for him with his neurologic condition, which impacts his ability to walk amongst other issues.
“He likes to make people laugh, and he’ll look for you laughing, then continue doing the behavior to get you to laugh more,” says Julie Burk, Certified Veterinary Technician and Rehabilitation Veterinary Nurse at VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists.
Hughes chose VCA Northwest for Duke’s therapy because of her long relationship with the organization and their friendliness.
“We’ve worked with pretty much every department there in some way or another,” she says.
Because his condition affects his ability to walk, Burk works with 9-year-old Duke on several different therapies, including the water treadmill and laser treatments.
“The beauty of a treadmill is that the water lifts 60 percent of his weight off of his body, so it makes it easier for him to walk. But every minute with the treadmill is five minutes on land because of the resistance of the water. Five minutes doesn't seem like a long time for a workout, but when facing physical limitations, it can be taxing. Sometimes sustaining longer than a five minute interval, as Duke was able to achieve, generates the best result. You want to fatigue the patient a little bit so that you can get muscle, but not over fatigue so that they're too tired,” Burk says.
Laser therapy also helps tissue to heal and feel better so Duke can be more comfortable.
“It actually goes down and works at the cellular level, causing rapid cell division,” Burk says.
For dogs like Duke, his weight has shifted forward so they work with the front of his body.
“I need to help his muscles relax, so we manipulate his muscles in the treadmill and with laser treatments every session, so we’re keeping him in a nice, comfortable state,” Burk says.
“This is the beauty of dogs. They do not let their condition affect them. It's humans that are affected by conditions. It's not the dogs. He's a really adaptive dog. He just gets through it and moves on,” Burk says. “We could all take a lesson from Duke’s playbook,” she adds. ”
The therapy has been working to help Duke get out and about, with and without his wheelchair.
“His wheelchair enables him to go to the beach and run,” Burk says, adding when he gets into his wheelchair, he is excited and knows he now has more freedom to run. Without this therapy, Duke’s quality of life could be minimized.
"Duke is a much happier dog when he is out and about with people," Hughes says. He continues his therapy to improve his physicality, mobility and flexibility, which in turn helps Duke improve his ability to walk and run.
“This is the beauty of dogs. They do not let their condition affect them. It's humans that are affected by conditions. It's not the dogs. He's a really adaptive dog. He just gets through it and moves on,” Burk says. “We could all take a lesson from Duke’s playbook,” she adds.
Hughes says she hopes people see dogs like Duke and understand quality of life is possible despite medical conditions.
“Duke brings so much happiness to everyone he meets and he is a wonderful ambassador for the pug breed and special needs pugs,” she says.
Rehabilitation often benefits pets like Duke with limited mobility, as well as those with injuries, obesity, and many more issues. VCA can help identify which pets will benefit from a rehabilitation program with our expert staff members like Burk.
Is your pet recovering from an injury? Healing from surgery? Living with a chronic condition? Veterinary rehabilitation and physical therapy can help your loved one achieve their best life. Learn more about our rehabilitation services – and find a VCA hospital near you – at our website.