Chocolate on the move! April 2008
Hello and welcome to another Chocolate update. As you can see from this
photo, he is walking well in his sling and is also still working out in the
treadmill. All of this is hard work for him and he tires easily. He seems
to be one of the happiest dogs I've ever seen and certainly has the will to
run and romp around if his legs could only strengthen faster.
He was slowed a bit last week as he underwent castration. The crew gave him
a rest for a few days and made sure he was comfortable with pain
medication. It looks like the break did him well. Also, Chocolate is
becoming a bit spoiled. Our registered veterinary technicians here have set
up a bed for him in their office under a desk rather than back in the more
I got a call this morning from a sales representative that wants to donate,
on behalf of the manufacturer, some special booties for Chocolate. The
booties will protect his feet from any rubbing on the floor surfaces in the
hospital. When they arrive, I will post an update and photos.
April 10: When will Chocolate's hair grow back in?
As Chocolate continues to improve, a lot of his well-wishers that have seen
his pictures and video have asked, "When will his hair grow back in?"
That's a great question. First, recall his hair was shaved as part of
the preparation for surgery, just like what is done when humans go to
surgery, too. How fast his hair will come back so that the shaving is
not noticeable can vary quite a bit.
Consider that for all the time he was alone and on the run around the
Tri-Cities, he used a lot of energy, experienced the deterioration of his
front quarter muscles, and probably did not eat an optimal diet. No
doubt he did not get enough calories for the amount of energy he expended
staying out of harm's way nor did he get all the nutrients he needed.
Thanks to the veterinarians at the Meadow Hills Veterinary Center in
Kennewick, Wash., once Chocolate got to care, he was, and has been, getting
an ideal diet. You might want to know too, that Hills Science Diet
provides most of the small animal food fed in WSU's Veterinary Teaching
Hospital so that we only have a cleaning and sanitation fee associated with
handling food while animals are patients here. Hill's food gifts each
year—of which Chocolate is benefitting—amount to about $90,000 or more.
Now back to his hair. Hair growth in dog's is actually a very complex
process. A dog's hair typically does not grow continuously. A
dog's hair grows in cycles much like human eyebrows do. A new hair regrows alongside an old hair first in a process called anagen. Soon
afterwards the old hair falls out. The intermediate phase of hair
growth is called catagen. Following that is telogen or the resting
phase of a hair follicle. During this time, the follicle goes dormant
and the cycle starts again. So why don't we see bald dogs? Because
each hair follicle is not in the same growth phase at the same time.
It's going to take quite a while for Chocolate's hair to all be back in, but
I think he'd agree the trade off for fine functioning forelegs and the warm
care of people who care for him is worth it.
April 16: New fans salute Chocolate
Chocolate, the Chesapeake Bay retriever that ran for months on two broken
front legs in the Tri-Cities, has touched the hearts of students at Eastgate
elementary school in Kennewick, WA.
In fact, school counselor Sue Conrad was so moved by the story, that she now
uses Chocolate's story as part of the school's character building curriculum
that focuses on teaching respect, responsibility, caring, fairness,
trustworthiness, and citizenship. "One animal's story contained all these
concepts," writes Conrad, "The students' easily recognized the acts of
As part of the project, students created books of well wishes, and a poster
for WSU veterinary surgeon Dr. Steve Martinez and his staff. (see photo)
Many contain messages such as "I hope you get better," or "I wish that
Chocolate fet (sic) is better." (see photo) Yet others reflect how this
story has touched their young lives, "You are so brave," write one student,
while others wrote "I love Chocolate!"
On behalf of Chocolate and the staff here at WSU's College of Veterinary
Medicine, our thanks to Eastgate Elementary School.
We love Chocolate too!
Click images for a larger view
April 17 Chocolate gets new boots!
Chocolate, a stray Chesapeake Bay retriever from the Tri-Cities has a new
personalized set of boots to wear for his continued rehabilitation here at
WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine thanks to a generous gift from the
owner of the company that makes them. Laurie Ketzenberg, owner and founder
of Medivet, heard Chocolate's story and wanted to give him something special
to wear. Chocolate has needed the rubber boots to protect his feet while
recovering from surgery, and for use in WSU's underwater treadmill.
The Medipaw was designed and manufactured to protect dogs and cats paws from
the elements when they suffer either a front or hind leg injury that
requires the area to remain clean and dry. They are a waterproof,
breathable boot with a durable sole. Although Chocolate might not need the
boots 24 hours a day it will help on his walks in the spring months through
rain and mud.
The boots were hand delivered by Heather McCabe with MWI Veterinary Supply,
who is a distributor for Medivet, and helped make the gift possible. "What
inspired the donation was my visit to the Spring Conference when all the vet
students commented on the Medipaw display I had at my booth. Every
student said "that's what Chocolate wears," said McCabe who then contacted
the manufacturer, and the boots were on the way. Medivet has also donated
several different size options for the vet students to use on future
As for Chocolate, he couldn't be happier.
April 18 New challenges for Chocolate
WSU Team considers additional surgery options
As Chocolate continues his rehabilitation at WSU's College of Veterinary
Medicine, his strength is gradually returning to his front legs. Therapists
see him becoming more comfortable moving his weight in to a more normal
position. However, he is not able to use his left paw as well as his
right due to the abnormal fracture healing of his left forelimb.
(story continues below video)
Chasing his yellow ball. Chocolate's favorite exercise
Right click on the video for player options.
WSU's veterinary orthopedic specialist Dr. Steve Martinez is concerned
that even after extensive physical therapy and the application of
orthotics, the leg is still slightly rotated enough to cause Chocolate some
mobility problems. “We are now looking at performing a corrective
surgery on his left foreleg in the next 2 weeks that will help place
Chocolate's left paw down on the ground better and similar to what we've
achieved with his right paw, “said Dr. Martinez. “He definitely needs more
surgical and physical therapy help from us, in order to help return better
function to that leg.”
For now, Chocolate continues his daily routine. 10 to 20-minutes in
WSU's underwater treadmill, along with other muscle building activities that
can be as simple as a game of fetch. So far, his progress looks good.