California Journal of Oriental Medicine
Acupuncture Aids Cat Chasing in Canine Arthritis
by Tammerlin Drummond
One morning last April, my beloved canine companion Sophie collapsed snout first into her food bowl and let out a horrible howl.
I rushed into the kitchen, reached under her barrel-shaped, boxer chest, and lifted her up off of the floor. But when she tried to put her right paw down on the tile, she let out another guttural cry that terrified me. She limped off into the dining room, crashing into the china cabinet along the way.
At the time, Sophie had been suffering from crippling arthritis for about two years. The vet had taken a slew of x-rays, which had determined that Sophie's hips were shot and the cartilage was separating from her elbows. A boxer-beagle-pit bull mix, she'd always been a strapping, athletic dog, but because of the arthritis, she could barely walk around the block.
The vet had put her on and off prednisone, which made her wet in the house, and rimadyl, the pricey doggie arthritis anti-inflammatory -- both with mixed results. I'd also been buying glucosomine and sprinkling it on her food.
But this latest episode was different. Sophie couldn't put any pressure on her paw at all, and she was bumping into furniture like she couldn't see. I started to panic. What if it wasn't arthritis but some kind of neurological disorder? Cancer?
I rushed her to the vet. After more x-rays and blood work, the doctor told me that Sophie' right elbow was totally shot. What she needed was a new elbow. But elbow replacement in dogs was experimental, and anyway at age 9, she was too old to be a candidate for that surgery.
What was I supposed to do? I asked. She can't go to the bathroom because she can't hold herself up. Whenever she squats, she falls over.
The vet suggested that I get a sheet or blanket and slide it under Sophie's chest to hoist her up while she did her business. Yeah right! I thought. Thanks for nothing. Then, she sent us home.
For the next week, Sophie was just about immobile. It hurt my heart to see her hobbling around on three legs. Watching her through the window to the backyard, struggling to relieve herself.
Modern veterinary science had failed us. Not even tried to help us. I was furious.
Then, one day, I remembered that my friend Abba Anderson, the editor of this journal, had mentioned that there were people who specialized in acupuncture for pets. I called her, and she referred me to Daphne Livoni, who runs a pet acupuncture practice with several locations in the Bay Area.
I telephoned Daphne immediately. She had such warm, soothing energy that for the first time in weeks, I had hope that there was a chance that Sophie could get better. I made an appointment to bring Sophie in for a treatment.
Sophie's condition had gotten even worse in the last couple of weeks. It was a great effort for her to walk from her bed in hallway to her food bowl.
Daphne knelt on the rug and spent the first several minutes stroking and talking to Sophie, who responded by rolling over onto her back, legs in the air. Daphne fed Sophie some treats. Then, when she had put Sophie at ease, she began examining the problem elbow. She told me that she could feel the heat coming off of it.
Daphne reached for a box of needles and knelt down on the floor next to Sophie. Not realizing what was happening, Sophie began furiously wagging her tail. I knelt next to them with one hand on Sophie's haunches and the other on her chest.
Daphne explained that she was going to start with thinner needles for the first treatment. She slowly inserted a needle into Sophie's wrinkled forehead, twisting it slowly. I expected the dog to leap off the mat, but she didn't move.
Daphne continued to insert needles, explaining to me what body part each one was for. There were about a dozen in all. After she was finished, she said she was going to let Sophie rest for about 20 minutes.
The results of the acupuncture have been nothing short of miraculous. Since I began taking Sophie for her once-a-month acupuncture visits with Daphne, she has become a new dog. Little by little, she got much better. Not only is she walking on all fours again, she wakes up in the morning demanding her walks-just like in her puppy days. She strains at her leash like a show pony. One day not too long ago, she actually took off down the street galloping! When we go to see Daphne, she leaps up the stairs three at a time.
Over Christmas, after doing so well for several months, Sophe had a relapse. I immediately called Daphne. We agreed that Sophie would see her every two weeks until she got better, which she eventually did. Now Sophie's back on her once-a-month-schedule.
The funny thing is, Sophie likes the needles. Whenever she has a treatment, she flops over onto her back as soon as Daphne reaches for the magic box.
I am very thankful that Sophie and I discovered Daphne. If we hadn't, I don't know what we would have done. I had taken Sophie to two vets who said there was nothing they could do. That she was just old and had bad joints. That eventually she would be in so much pain that I would have to put her to sleep.
I wonder what they'd say now if they could see Sophie tearing off in pursuit of the neighbor's cat.