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The Incredible Journey of Coco

Hyperactive, strong willed, foodie, friendly – that’s our furry, four-legged, chocolate brown third child. He came into our life during the lockdown, and, before we knew, become an integral part of our family. Our two boys say, with pride, that he is pampered more than them. Coco was growing up to be a fine healthy family dog, but …

During his routine medical checkup Coco’s vet diagnosed him with potential Cryptorchidism (a condition in which a male dog’s testicles have not completed descended into the scrotum). At six month’s the diagnosis was confirmed, and we were advised that neutering was essential for him to lead a healthy life. In due course, at the age of 14 months, a routine neutering surgery was performed. We have vivid memories of nervously waiting outside the hospital and tears rolling down our cheeks to see him being rolled out after a successful surgery. It would take a couple of days for the pain to subside, and a couple of weeks before Coco was back into his elements.

That evening I slept by him in the living room and, at some point in the night, remember being woken up by his struggle to beat the pain and hike up to our backyard to relieve himself. He did not litter the house even in this condition - we were touched by his sense of pride and discipline. Within two days of the surgery Coco was getting back to his routine - resumed his usual walks and a strong desire to play tug with his best buddy Bheema. On the third day he started looking dull and refused to move. We were worried whether we had overexerted him. The fever refused to subside over the next couple of days and a battery of blood tests confirmed the vet’s suspicion that he was suffering from Babesiosis – a rare form of tick disease. The hypothesis was that the infection was sub-clinical and the stress/drop in immunity from surgery could have triggered it. Regular medication dose to treat Babesiosis was started immediately – he was running 105F+ temperature at night, and when paracetamol and application of cool water on his body, paws, and ears could not bring the temperate down, he had to be rushed to the hospital for the next two nights.

On the third day, at around 5am, he was restlessly walking around the house. I was trying to catch a nap after a sleepless night. We were woken up by a shrill bark and were surprised to find him near the footsteps of our staircase leading to the garage; unable to move. There were no bruises and did not look like he had tumbled down. He does not venture into that area, so it remains a mystery what led him there. It was as if he wanted to be put into the car and rushed to hospital. Within twenty minutes we were at the hospital – he was running 106+ temperature and received immediate medical help but he could not move his hind limbs. The need of the hour though was to treat the tick fever. He was put on an alternate medicine, Atovaquone, that was difficult to procure and worth it's weight in gold! That’s a separate story.

With Coco running fever, unable to walk, Atovaquone medication that needed to be administered every 8 hours, and its side effects, the two weeks were long and difficult. We cannot imagine what he must have gone through, for no fault of his. What matters though is that he fully recovered form a potentially fatal infection. The focus now shifted towards getting him back on his fours. There are speculations, but, until today, we do not know what had rendered his hind legs immovable.

One of the specialist vets in Bangalore told us that age was on his side, his eyes are full of life, and he will bounce back. As per the doctor’s suggestions we decided to start every possible treatment. Laser therapy twice a day, homeopathy, oil massage, hot fomentation, physiotherapy, …days, and we were not seeing any significant improvement in Coco. We were also given contact of Kelly Johnson who has made Bangalore her home – rescuing and rehabilitating pets are her calling.

She offers a treatment called Bemer (Bio-Electric-Magnetic-Energy-Regulation) therapy that improves microcirculation, promoting blood flow in the smallest blood vessels. We got in touch with Kelly, and she agreed to start home sessions for Coco. Kelly was optimistic but upfront that this isn’t magic but will certainly help with healing. We immediately started the session on the next day and continued it every day for the next couple of months. Kelly was punctual to the minute, seemed to have a natural connection with Coco, and extremely professional in the therapy. Coco had to stay on the mat quiet, steady, and relaxed. He had partially lost bladder control and had fecal incontinence, and that made it even more challenging for Kelly. She was patient with Coco and soon her daily session became the highlight of his day. A few days into the session we noticed that Coco had started moving his left leg during the therapy. It was an early sign of the sensation and movement was starting to come back.

After two weeks of Bemer therapy, on August 16th, I vividly recall, immediately after the session, Coco was able to maintain his balance on all fours! It was the first straw and we clung onto it. To start strengthening his legs, we slowly started to make him stand on all fours by himself, lifting him up when he falls. Kelly also taught us how to make Coco walk with a sling. We also got a custom-made walker for Coco and started taking him for morning and evening walks, and daily swimming sessions. The Bemer therapy continued daily. On the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, September 10th, after the Bemer session, Coco took his first step. Coco is now on the road to recovery – he can walk independently and climb steps with minimal support. The path to a full recovery could be long, but we are confident he will get there. We are eternally grateful to Kelly not just for the Bemer therapy, but her infectious optimism and commitment to animal welfare. She has been a godsend for Coco when he needed it the most.

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