Today we meet the ever cheerful Pahoehoe and Linda from Portland, Oregon. We talk about daily life and what it takes to care for a dog with a hemivertebrae spinal anomaly. Linda shares some great advice on how to keep both your incontinent dog and your house fresh and clean!
Could you tell me about Pahoehoe's disability?
Pahoehoe came to our home as a puppy in 2008. For the first four years he was just your average, everyday pug. One day, he suddenly started walking like he was drunk. We immediately took him to the vet where x-rays revealed he had been born with a hemivertebrae (a single deformed vertebrae) just above the shoulder blades. Over time, the spinal column narrowed around that spot, squeezing the nerves and resulted in limited to no use of his back legs. As surgery would put him at high risk of full paralysis he was deemed inoperable. While he’s able to get around the house just fine using only his two front legs, his wheels are essential in getting out on walks and play dates.
Could you tell us about a regular day with Pahoehoe?
Once fully litter box trained, Pahoehoe lost the ability to control his bladder at the same time he lost use of his legs, so clean-ups became a much bigger part of our daily routine. We now have towels, extra blankets and rug runners strategically placed around the house and are the proud owners of a Spot Bot cleaner, numerous mops, an industrial sized washing machine and a commercial grade Rug Doctor. Our house is actually cleaner now than it ever was before! Once breakfast is over and cleaning done, it’s out for a quick walk and some snuggle time before mom and dad head out to work.
In the evenings Pahoehoe is excited for snuggles and dinner. Of course there are more clean-ups to do during the evening. Because Pahoehoe uses his upper body all day just to get around, he does have a lot of muscle tension in his upper body so he gets a good, strong deep tissue massage from his awesome dad every night.
On the weekends our walks are longer and more leisurely. Pahoehoe loves exploring, but even more than that he loves meeting people so we try to take our walks later in the day when more folks are out and about. There also seem to be a lot more snacks on the weekends!
What advice would you give to someone caring for a dog with hemivertebrae?
The most important thing I want people to know is that they’re not alone. No matter what your pets condition there are others in your same situation. Finding other owners of special needs dogs on Instagram, Facebook and sites like this has not only helped me find answers to questions I thought only I had, but it’s been a phenomenal source of emotional support...even love.
Pahoehoe's magic home made carpet cleaner!
I’ve tried EVERY carpet cleaner available. Nothing seemed to fully eliminate odors until I stumbled across the a fantastic recipe for a home made carpet cleaner that really works. While your house will smell a bit like Italian salad dressing at first, once the carpet is fully dry there’s no odor. NO ODOR!
Recommended shampoo for regular use
Living with incontinence means mess and odor, both on your dog and around the house. We are huge fans of Hylyt shampoo. We can bathe Pahoehoe more often (much to his dismay) without fear of skin irritation
Have you tried any treatment or rehab for Pahoehoe?
In the very beginning, we did take Pahoehoe to physical therapy and learned several exercises to keep him limber. What seems to help most of all are his daily massages. He loves them!
To stay up to date with Pahoehoe's activities, follow him on instagram.