Age: 3 years
Breed: Bernese Mountain Dog
Issue: Hip Dysplasia
Marco’s introduction to life with humans wasn’t a pleasant one. Abandoned as a puppy with a kennel in a rural area, he spent six months boxed up in a cage – sitting – with nowhere to move. Exercise was an alien concept. And his days were spent alone, propped up on his front legs while his back legs, over time, began wasting away.
By the time he arrived at his foster family “he was so messed up. He had absolutely no leg muscles in back. He’d walk two to three steps and he’d flop down.”To make matters worse, even graduated attempts to walk him turned disastrous. “His feet started bleeding,” Marco’s owner said. Trapped in a cage, the poor, sweet dog had never developed callouses on his paws.
Already familiar with Natural Healing’s program from previous dogs, the family – who wound up adopting him – signed Marco up for sessions three times a week to work on building his most basic muscle strength. Within a month, they saw improvement. Instead of flopping down after taking three steps, he might fall after six steps, then 12, then 20. Steadily he improved and the stumbles disappeared.
They x-rayed his hips and learned the shocking news that Marco had an extremely severe case of hip dysplasia. The vet said they could expect the dog would require a double hip replacement within 12 months. He was not even 18 months old.
Two years later and well into his therapy Marco not only has avoided surgery, his owners say it’s not even evident his hips are genetically deficient. “The way he moves around you’d think he’s a puppy.”
By maintaining a consistent swimming routine – gradually reduced to once every two weeks from three-times weekly – he has consistently strengthened his body. “As bad as his hips are, he gets around very well.” In fact, when they returned to a holiday party with the rescue group that placed him, Marco was quite the hit. “They couldn’t believe it was him.” The energetic dog walking around bore no resemblance to the puppy, who was once trapped in a cage, and who neither knew the joys of freedom nor was capable of enjoying them less than one year earlier.