by Lori Wolf
“Thank you for doing this for him,” my vet said, patting the top of Odin’s head.
I wondered about this statement. Although I had adopted Odin only a few months before his accident, he was now my responsibility, my family member. I would do whatever it took to help him recover from his herniated disc. The mounting vet bill—I’d deal with it, find another job, if I needed to.
“Most people wouldn’t deal with this,” she continued. “His recovery is going to take a long time.”
Now this statement didn’t surprise me.
With his big blue eyes and friendly expression, Odin looked up at me. He was lying on a small rug. Siberian Huskies are known for being highly active dogs. Before falling off his doghouse a few weeks earlier, Odin had lived up to the reputation of his breed: very active, curious, stubborn, and a tail wagger. Now he couldn’t move his rear legs, and I sure missed seeing that wagging tail.
Surgery for a dog’s herniated disc, which my vet believes isn’t always successful, had been financially out of the question for me at the mid-four-digit-thousand-dollar range. Online message boards kept extolling the praises of immediate surgery for owners’ injured canines. The day of Odin’s accident I obsessively examined them, searching for something that would tell me acupuncture and rest were the treatment of choice. Though I found a few believers, I wasn’t reassured. If I hadn’t become a community college professor, if I hadn’t remodeled my house five years earlier…I’d have the funds for Odin’s surgery and his recovery. What kind of a dog caretaker was I? I didn’t have the money for my dog’s vet bill. Odin’s accident happened. He and I would cope. And keep his eight different medications straight. And maintain my sanity.The year anniversary of Odin’s accident and his ongoing recovery are approaching. It took Odin two months before my neighbor friend and I could hoist him to stand by putting a towel around his abdomen; another two months after that for Odin to walk on his own. With a slow, staggered gait, he had risen from his bed and walked twenty steps to the kitchen door to greet me after school one Tuesday afternoon. “He just started doing that this afternoon,” my friend, who cared for him and my other husky while I was working, said. “You should see the expression on your face.” She chuckled.
Frankly, I hadn’t been sure he would walk again.
My vet believes Odin has reached the extent of his recovery, about eighty percent. Though lying down takes some effort, Odin has had to relearn how to walk and keep his balance while standing. Sometimes he slips, but he gets back up again and continues on his way. What have I relearned? To walk like Odin.