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Resilient rescue dog M.J.'s condition continues to improve after 'wheelchair' training, laser therapy

March 25, 2010 |  4:14 pm

Many readers have come to Dr. Heather Oxford for advice on animal health and wellness through Unleashed's Ask a Vet column. But when she's not answering your pet-health questions, Dr. Oxford is a practicing veterinarian at L.A.'s California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE), helping animals to bounce back from illness and injury. Dr. Oxford shares the story of one special patient who's fought both paralysis and distemper with the help of some devoted animal lovers. Here's M.J.'s story:

M.J. might not be able to moonwalk yet, but she's got some fancy new moves of her own. She's had about two more weeks of therapy at CARE since her last evaluation and she continues to surpass our expectations.

As you may recall, she began rehab with only the slightest ability to feel her hind legs due to a car accident that left her paralyzed. The kind folks at HandicappedPets.com, aided by the fundraising efforts of some animal-loving schoolchildren, donated her "Walkin' Wheels" dog wheelchair, which you may recognize from the first installment of M.J.'s story.

As of today, she is getting up on her own and standing with great balance for several minutes at a time. We fit her with some booties that help give her more traction and they allow her to get her back feet under her quickly to push up to stand.

She's quite a fashion trend-setter. She can walk for longer distances too now without her cart!

During her evaluation I did find that she is getting some sore triceps muscles from all the increased walking she's been doing, so we did some laser therapy treatment on her last week.

MJ gets a laser treatment

M.J. loves all the attention and affection she's been getting from us at CARE and her other doctors at Brent-Air Animal Hospital, but she still wishes she had a home. M.J. will be continuing to receive therapy at CARE for the next four weeks, and then we hope she will be functionally independent enough to check out of rehab.

If you are interested in meeting M.J., please contact the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation.

-- Heather Oxford, DVM

Dr. Oxford received her bachelor of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and is also certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

Check out more of Dr. Oxford's work in Unleashed's Ask a Vet column.

Video: M.J. practices with her "Walkin' Wheels" dog wheelchair at CARE. Photo: M.J. receives laser treatment. Video and photo courtesy of CARE.

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