Coping with my Pet’s Paralysis

This is an unplanned post but in light of recent events, I figured you wouldn’t mind going off topic for a day.
My dog had a terrible accident on Sunday that resulted in a heirnated disc and paralysis. It was very scary (it still is) and this week has been really tough for our little family.

Sunday night, my husband rushed into our apartment holding Rocky, saying there had been an accident. He was trying to pull Rocky from chasing another dog, and out of nowhere, Rocko started yelping. Aaron scooped him up and came inside; he laid Rocky on the bed, but it was evident my little man couldn’t move. After awhile, Rocky tried to pull himself up, but he couldn’t. It was the saddest site I’ve ever seen: Rocky, using his little shoulders, rolling on his mid-section, inching forward, whimpering; all ambulatroy function gone. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was awful. 🙁


My dog, Rocky is about 9 year’s old and he was a gift from my step-father, who got him from a small farm in Shenandoah, Virginia. My stepdad said Rocky was the “runt of the litter” and the other dogs on the farm didn’t get along with him (crazy dogs!). Rocky was small (see below) and apparently, there was an altercation between him and a bigger dog- that’s when the family decided it was time to give him away. When I got him, he had a few scars on his little white paws– I thought, ‘what a fighter!’ Can you guess why I named him Rocky? I also thought those little paws looked like boxing gloves!

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Rocky was with me all through college–I was young and not the best owner (at least in terms of potty training!)– but luckily my roommate at the time had a dog and she helped raise Rocky. In fact, so did her dog, Kia, for that matter! They were the best of friends!

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Last January (about 5 years since college), Rocky’s best pal, Kia passed away of cancer 🙁 It took more than a month of testing (and some very long nights, I imagine) to find out she had a tumor and her condition was essentially incurable. I felt so awful for my friend, and secretly, feared something similiar happening to Rocky.

Oddly enough, this was around the same time, that Rocky started having problems.

I’m not quite sure when it started, but I remember one morning walking Rocky before work. I was in hurry and admittedly, wasn’t looking. I yanked Rocky’s retractable leash, thereby yanking his neck collar, and the poor guy started yelping. (This was months ago; not this past weekend.)

I didn’t yank him any harder than usual, but something went wrong. His cries broke my heart and I totally freaked out! I immediately scooped him up and that day we went to the vet. It was evident he did something to his back or his front paw, but the vet couldn’t pinpoint the problem; at least not with x-rays.

She did discover a sensitive spot on his neck (he yelped when she pressed it) but the vet couldn’t say for sure what that meant; maybe a strained muscle? maybe a dislocated disc?

We took Rocky home he was back to normal before long. Sometimes he’d act funny, stopping mid-way through his morning walk, not wanting to any further, or hesitating to jump on the couch or bed. It was very confusing, and scary, and yet we were clueless. We thought he was just getting older and my mom, Aaron’s dad thought it could be arthritisis.

We got stairs for climbing into the bed and tried to prevent him from jumping. (He still won’t use those stairs; he’s very skiddish.) And we bought a harness, which we used a few times, but one morning, I pinched him trying to snap the harness shut (I probably sound like the worst pet owner in the world!) and that was the end of that.


{Rocky on his leash; wearing his usual dog collar.}


Then, Sunday night happens. He was on the leash, not the harness. He can’t move. He’s crying. I go to the vet first thing the next morning and she says we’ve got to see a neurologist. There is nothing she can do. Rocky has paralysis.

{Insert uncontrollable crying here.}

I drove from the vet to the neurologist carrying Rocky like so.

I was scared. to. death.


They sent Rocky for MRI and then broke the news that he had a herinated disc and needed surgery. Immediately.


We were very lucky to be able to afford the surgery. We used savings and it was a tough decision, but to me, it felt like we had no other choice. If we could save him, we would. We brought him home Wednesday night and I think, for me at least, that’s when it started to really sunk in. That first night was so tough; between his whimpers and inching around, niether of us got any sleep. The next morning (yesterday) he wouldn’t eat or take his meds. I just started crying at one point, the full realization of his inmobility and his very fragile state hitting me, yet again.

Luckily, things started to look up last night. He ate a lot and he peed! He seemed more like himself, too, grabbing his toy with his mouth and using his front paws to motion for more belly rubs 🙂


He’s taking his meds and taking it easy, so we’re hopeful. The vet says it will take at least ten days before he gets his legs back.

I know this all sounds pretty dramatic, but it is a big deal. I’m realizing that now. It’s also a big deal that we ALWAYS use a harness for our dog (should he ever walk again). I wish the vet would have explained the dangers of dog collars, after that first incident. Now we know, and you do too! So, if you have a choker collar and a small dog… replace the collar with a harness.

I’m using hashtags #rockyisok and #rockysrecovery on Instagram if you want to follow his progress.

Thanks for listening. We’ll be back to regularly scheduled posting tomorrow!

Do you have a small dog?

Do you use a harness?

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  1. Meagan wrote:

    Oh poor guy! I hope his recovery continues to be successful.
    We have two small dogs – a yorkie and a yorkie-shihtzu. They wear collars around the house for the sake of their tags, but we use harnesses for walks. They pull so hard they make themselves choke and wheeze otherwise. Yorkies especially can have delicate windpipes, so it was something our vet really encouraged.

    Hugs and happy thoughts for Rocky from Penny and Tucker!

    Posted 1.10.13 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I’m so glad that you use the harnesses for walks! We had no idea the importance of them! Thank you for the well wishes 🙂 He’s doing a lot better!

      Posted 1.21.13 Reply
  2. Anni wrote:

    Oh, poor Rocky! I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this, it’s so scary.
    We have a 35 lb Aussie, and she came to us from the rescue with one of those choker collars (no spikes or anything, nylon) and now I’m worried about it for her. She’s got a fairly medium sized frame, she’s not tiny, but I don’t want to hurt her!

    Posted 1.11.13 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Yes- definitely switch to a harness! It’s possible you could get away with using the choker collars, but looking back, it’s not worth the risk! Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Posted 1.21.13 Reply
  3. Sarah wrote:

    Oh my…when I read this post, it broke my heart! I completely understsand what you went through! As a mommy of two mini-dachshund, I had a very similar experience with one of my doxie. He had a herniated disc and could not move his adorable hind legs! Luckily, with 1 solid month of caged rest, he recuperated and is back to normal. My heart just sank when I saw that he couldn’t move….and you totally did the right thing by giving him that operation! I would do anything for my fur babies!! Hope he gets well soon! Give him lots of hugs and kisses for me!

    Posted 1.17.13 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Sarah- Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! It touched my heart! I’m so glad your little doxie is OK! That gives me so much hope! Thank you for the encouragement!!!

      Posted 1.21.13 Reply
  4. […] Then Rocky got sick… […]

    Posted 4.24.17 Reply