A pup left paralysed after a spinal stroke has defied the odds and is now able to walk again without the help of a wheelchair. Megan Donoghue, 23, was at home with her partner Jacob Beesley, 24, when they noticed that their five-year-old shweenie Maggie was shuffling awkwardly around the house.
The couple immediately took her to the vet who suggested Maggie may have suffered from a strain and sent her home. Hours after their visit to the vet, Maggie’s legs started buckling beneath her and her back legs became completely paralysed. Megan and Jacob, from St Helen’s, Merseyside, rushed her to Northwest Referrals where they discovered the devastating diagnosis – fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE).
FCE is a sudden onset spine injury that happens when a piece of cartilage from the disc blocks blood flow to the spinal cord, causing a stroke and resulting in paralysis.
Megan, who works as an online chat moderator, said: “After scans and tests, they discovered that what they thought was a disc injury was actually a spinal stroke, which there is no cure for.
“The vets told us that she was the highest grade and that she’d need lots of physiotherapies, but there was no guarantee that she would ever use her back legs again.
“They even mentioned putting her down. We were gutted but I just said ‘She’s only three, I can’t give up on her without doing everything I can’.
Megan and Jacob, a teaching fellow at Liverpool John Moores University, poured their hearts into finding every possible treatment option for Maggie.
They immediately began a strict routine of therapies including hydrotherapy twice a week, physiotherapy up to twice a week and acupuncture every two weeks.
The couple also continued her treatment at home using a vibrating massage tool, a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine and regular massages that helped boost circulation.
Megan’s family also raised money to get her a wheelchair which has given Maggie a new sense of freedom.
After months of dedication, Maggie took her first steps unassisted in August and blew Megan away.
Megan said: “The vet had said that it takes about three months maximum for a dog to recover, so when it passed that point we were not as optimistic.
“I remember thinking ‘She’s gonna be paralysed forever, this is it now’ – it was heartbreaking.
“But when I saw her walk again I felt so happy – all the time and effort was worth it.
“Now she runs around the beach, plays with us and her brother Sid – who is a five-year-old white Maltese Shih Tzu. It’s amazing.”
This journey has not been easy for the couple, as Megan described that all the vet treatments were very expensive and they’ve even had to reconsider if they could afford the £400 a month for her therapies.
However seeing Maggie walk unaided, run around on the beach and play with the couple’s two-year-old daughter Elodie Beesley, made it all worthwhile.
She continued: “I had no idea what FCE even was before this but it can happen so suddenly that people should know about it.
“We really prioritised consistency, even at the hardest time, which is the reason she’s made such amazing progress.
“We’ve been ensuring that her quality of life was always the highest it could be and now she’s living the best life she can.”