Treating My Disabled Therapy Dog with Integrative Medicine

Ichabod is a disabled Alaskan Malamute who was rescued from the dog meat trade, but nothing stops him from being an involved member of his community who volunteers his time to help others!

Ichabod was rescued by No Dogs Left Behind, and I adopted him in February 2021. He has a disability (luxated patellas, meaning displaced kneecaps), but he still loves to walk and play with his two- and four-legged family members. He’s even a certified therapy dog! Ichabod needs more medical care than most dogs, and as his mom, I’m hoping that integrative medicine will help him to have the quality of life he deserves.

Ichabod the Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs are enormously beneficial for people. They can support emotional growth, reduce stress, improve mood, teach valuable lessons, and more! I got Ichabod certified as a therapy dog not long after adopting him. Since then, we’ve visited schools and libraries to teach children and parents important lessons about things like:

  • Being safe around dogs
  • Approaching unfamiliar dogs
  • Avoiding interactions that can trigger dogs to bite or nip

We’ve also visited survivors of the Oxford High School shooting in Detroit and children with disabilities to talk about how challenges, trauma, and disabilities don’t define us.

We were volunteering regularly for a Therapeutic Classroom at Beaumont Elementary School, where we would visit classes with my book, Ichabod, Where is the Glory?, to teach children about dog rescue, disability, the need for animal welfare laws, and kindness and empathy toward animals. The kids thought we made such a great team that the school actually offered us a position!

Healing Through Integrative Medicine

Ichabod loves being a therapy dog and lives an active life, but he still has medical issues. He isn’t a candidate for surgery because his condition is too severe. He’s also at risk of future degenerative joint disease and arthritis. I’ve chosen integrative veterinary care for his approach, and it’s all thanks to the experience I had with his brother, Sarge.

Sarge is a German Shepherd that I also adopted through No Dogs Left Behind. He came to me with an uncontrollable ear infection, wounds on his feet that wouldn’t heal, and swelling that deformed his feet. Even with antibiotics, Epsom salt soaks, and cold laser therapy, he wasn’t getting better.

Conventional surgery wasn’t really an option, and it was becoming clear that Sarge was likely facing multiple amputations. But then, I called the Smith Ridge Veterinary Center and spoke with Dr. Jenna, an integrative veterinarian who recommended a new course of treatment. She performed cryosurgery on his feet, and by the time Sarge left her office, he was walking without a limp! Sarge’s issues are still ongoing, but his recovery so far has been miraculous.

The Road Ahead

Because I had so much success with Sarge, I’m trying an integrative approach at the same clinic for Ichabod as well. The clinic is 10 hours away, but we think it’s worth it for the quality of care.dis

His current treatment course includes chiropractic adjustments and monthly Adequan injections, and soon we’ll be paying another visit to the Smith Ridge Veterinary Center so he can start stem cell therapy. I’m hopeful that the integrative veterinary care specialists there will be able to help Ichabod so that he can have a great quality of life like his brother, and so that he can continue his journey as a therapy dog.

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