Today we talk to Ashley from Eugene, USA about life with Lumen (aka. Unicorn) the Great Dane. Lumen was born deaf and with severely deformed feet, then dumped at four weeks old in Tijuana, Mexico. Ashley talks us through their daily routine with Lumen and their other rescue dogs, all while running the busy Luvable Dog Rescue.
Could you tell us a bit about Lumen's condition?
Lumen's “toes” were fused together at birth so she walked on pointed ballerina feet with her nails growing out of her toe pads. She was born without the metacarpal and metatarsal pads (the big ones) on all four feet. These pads are made for weight bearing and for any dog, this condition would be a major issue. For a giant breed like a Great Dane, this was unthinkable. Additionally, she had extra taut skin that ran down the backs of her hind legs to her ankles which kept her legs in a permanently bent position. Her rescuers quickly realized that finding a suitable home for Lumen would be challenging and the uncertainty of whether she could be helped or not was tremendous.
What is a normal day is like with Lumen?
I manage Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene Oregon. Our days are always filled with lots of chaos. Since Lumen came home we now do it with a lot less sleep and even more to juggle, but she is worth it!
Lumen wakes us up between 3-4 times a night. Sometimes it is to go out potty and other times it seems the medications we have had to keep her on for pain management make her very restless and frustrated. Early in the morning we start with her medication regimen and another potty break. Lumen then starts her day with a coffee run with Christine and Lumen’s best friend Atticus (a rescued Pit Bull we foster failed at Luvable.) Once she gets back home, we have some inside play with her pack to get her wiggles out. Because Great Danes also are at serious risk to get Bloat (where their stomach twists) we have to be extra careful when Lumen is playing and wants to stop to drink water or eat she has to go back in her pen for an hour.
Lumen is then rotated out of her giant pen in our living room, off and on throughout the day for supervised play. Thankfully, both Christine and I work at Luvable Dog Rescue and we live onsite, so we are able to trade off coming home throughout the long work days to give her time out of the pen frequently.
We have to make it a point to give Lumen lots of mental and physical stimulation every day to tire her out in ways that won’t have her playing as hard on her feet out of boredom and then her ulcers on her foot open up. She usually gets another car ride into town to run errands sometime during the day. She often has vet appointments in the afternoons and when she does, we always stop at this huge grassy spot in town we can let her run on to get some energy out but with the soft cushioned support for her feet. Lumen never looks happier than when she is running full speed on grass! At the end of the night, we usually relax at home with our pack of 6 rescue dogs all playing together and making us laugh!
On the weekend we usually enjoy a lazy morning with our kiddos before we are up running lots of errands and appointments in town. If we are able to, we take Lumen and Atticus along with us for the ride. If we are not running errands we make sure to take Lumen to a grassy patch somewhere to run and explore.
Are there any products that can help Lumen?
We are hoping soon to have two amazing products to help Lumen once we have all of the funds raised on her Gofundme. Lumen will be getting orthotics made for all four feet by Animal Ortho Care. We are also working to get her an amazing product called Alpha Turf. It is a dig proof, chew proof, dog proof Turf that is made for dogs! With 6 dogs at home, keeping grass alive just isn’t possible. Lumen needs soft terrain to support her feet where she is running/walking with no weight bearing pads. Alpha Turf would be the soft, cushioned support she needs without having to keep grass alive from the wear and tear of so many dogs. This would be life changing for her! The amazing folks at Alpha Turf have also offered a small discount to help since Lumen is a rescue dog in need :)
The only tip I could give when loving and caring for a special needs dog like Lumen, is to think of it like having a newborn infant that needs round the clock care. You will be exhausted and frustrated and feel discouraged at times, but they are trusting you to get up each day and do it again because they need you. And they will give you so much love back, the bond will be unlike any other.
Have you tried any treatment or rehabilitation for Lumen? How did they go?
Yes, Lumen has had several experimental surgeries on at Oregon State University which also require lots of physical therapy. We also did some sessions of hydrotherapy at See Spot Run where Lumen did the underwater treadmill. She LOVES it! Lumen has so much fun in the tank, you can watch some pretty awesome videos of her doing hydrotherapy on her IG. She never wants to leave and is always super tired out and sleeps well after :)
What advice would you offer to someone caring for a dog with a similar condition?
Talk to everyone! Starting up a social media platform is a great way to connect to other people with differently-abled dogs as well as professionals and products that could really help you.
Starting up an online fundraising campaign can help come up with some of the financial funds needed to give your dog the help they need. People love dogs and so many amazing people want to help dogs in need. Don’t try to go at this alone when so many wonderful people can help support you along the way!
Want to help with Lumen's progress?
Ashley is trying to raise funds to get Lumen’s Alpha Turf installed so she can enjoy this summer running around outside with her pack. Funds are being raise through Luvable Dog Rescue since Luvable has committed to her financial needs. If you want to help out head to Lumen's GoFundMe account. Stay up to date with her progress at @lovecommalumen.
If you have a place in your life for a special needs pup, and you're in the Oregon area, get in touch with Ashley and the team at Luvable Dog Rescue or their Instagram account.