CHEYENNE — When Leslie Riley, of Cheyenne, heard the veterinarian say her dachshund, Stormy, was completely paralyzed, she started to cry, thinking it meant her dog would have to be put down.
Riley didn’t know it at the time, but not only would Stormy not have to be euthanized, she would go on to be the “spokesdog” for the treatment that got her back on her feet, running and playing again.
The veterinarian who told Riley that Stormy was completely paralyzed also told her the dachshund was a good candidate for laser therapy treatment and acupuncture. Dr. Raven Novak of Cheyenne’s La Zoetry Pet Clinic specializes in chiropractic care, acupuncture and laser treatments for animals. It was this treatment — rather than a traditional surgical procedure — that helped Stormy get back to her old self and stay there for going on five years.
Riley said it began one morning in October 2014. Stormy wasn’t acting normally, so Riley picked her up to see what was going on. Stormy yelped in pain, and Riley knew something was wrong.
Stormy stopped walking and was no longer able to urinate or defecate on her own. As it turned out, like many dachshunds, Stormy most likely had a disc herniation. One vet said Stormy might recover if they kept her in her crate for six weeks of rest. Another option was an $8,000 back surgery that only had an 80% chance of success.
The costly surgery wasn’t affordable for Riley and her family, so when their vet suggested that an animal chiropractor might be able to help, they decided to give it a try and went to Novak for help.
At this point, Stormy had been paralyzed for four months, and Novak said it was going to take more than chiropractic care alone to help her. Novak said Stormy was a great candidate for laser treatment and acupuncture, which are therapy treatments she uses to stimulate blood flow in wounded or painful areas on animals.
“Laser therapy is not just a red beam of light,” Novak said. “It penetrates into the tissues and helps to increase blood flow. Increasing blood flow has all these biomechanical properties that can knock off the bad cells and bring up good cells.”
Novak said increasing blood flow helps to heal wounds and repair damaged tissues, as well as aid nerve regeneration.
Riley agreed to try the laser treatments multiple times a week for Stormy.
“It was our last option,” Riley said. “If this didn’t work, we would have to put her down.”
The first sign of improvement they saw was some movement in her back leg. Within three weeks, Stormy took her first steps.
“I was so excited,” Riley said. “I got a video of it, and we rushed in as fast as we could get here and showed Dr. Novak. It was amazing. It was the best feeling.”
Within four weeks of beginning the treatments, Stormy was able to hold her bladder. Now Stormy runs and plays with the family’s Chihuahua and two other dachshunds.
“There are people who put their dogs down all the time when they’re paralyzed,” Riley said. “They still have a lot of life left to go. Don’t give up. It truly works.”
Now Stormy continues to get regular treatments to help maintain her ability to walk.