Life looks brighter for dog with back injury

Kaiser in the carKaiser knows what it’s like to have the odds stacked against him and to come out on the other side. The shepherd mix looks older and wiser than his six years. His face is scarred and he’s missing part of an ear. But his deepest scars are the ones no one can see, and that’s what he’s getting intensive therapy for here at the Sanctuary.

Originally found as a stray, Kaiser came to Best Friends from a shelter where he was too shy to find a home. Having once been shot at, he didn’t trust anyone. Poor Kaiser was also in pain from chronic back issues. His spirits were as battered as his body, and things were about to get worse before they got better.

A call for help

Luckily by that time, Kaiser was in the best place he could possibly be. He’d come to the Sanctuary to get help with his trust issues and to find a new home. And when his body unexpectedly gave out, he was already in the best possible place to get help and a chance to recover.

Kaiser loves his food, but one morning, Dogtown caregivers noticed that he seemed lethargic and had skipped his breakfast. It was a call for help. He was frightened, in pain and unable to move. He was rushed to the clinic and made as comfortable as possible, but the news was not good.

A disk injury in his back was causing damage and inflammation to Kaiser’s spinal cord. In order to recover, and to be able to walk again, Kaiser would have to do intensive physical therapy. Here again, he was lucky. Not only would he get the best veterinary care, but his caregivers were prepared to stand by him and help him every step of the way. And one of them knew a thing or two about what he was going through.

An instant connection

In 2013, Dogtown caregiver Kayla Sedbrook was hit by a drunk driver on her way home from a baseball game. After she was removed from the wreckage, it was determined that Kayla had suffered a concussion and a terrible shoulder injury. Her road to recovery was long and included six months of intensive physical therapy and regular maintenance afterward.

Having survived that crisis, Kayla felt an instant connection to Kaiser and a unique insight into what he was going through because of his injury. “I understand the patience that needs to come,” she says, “and the frustration of knowing that you were once capable of doing things but are now facing a new limitation.”

A vigorous plan

Kaiser's hydrotherapy sessionKaiser’s recovery plan is vigorous — two hydrotherapy sessions and two laser treatments every week, as well as daily physical therapy with his caregivers and regular trips to the clinic. With such strong support, he’s found the motivation to keep pushing forward and has even learned to walk again with the aid of a sling. Best Friends vets say it’s possible he could recover nearly all of his previous mobility and strength.

As Kaiser’s body keeps getting stronger, his mind and heart are healing, too. The injury forced him to rely on people like never before. With all the extra human contact and handling, Kaiser has gradually been able to trust in people again, and to accept help and love for the first time in a long time.

Kaiser may not be running any races anytime soon, but he’s improving dramatically, and he’s already overcome the hardest challenge of his life. Healing from a devastating injury and opening his heart up again, Kaiser has certainly weathered the ups and downs of life and come out on the bright side.

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Learn more about Dogtown at Best Friends.

Photos by Molly Wald