With the help of veterinary technicians and a harness, Bosco, the former Zanesville police dog who was shot last week, stood up and waggled his back legs yesterday.
Although his front legs still hung limp in front of him, his ears and eyes were perky.
“He’s doing better today,” said Amy Butler, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University. “He’s starting to move his back legs … I did not expect this kind of a response within a week.”
Police said the 3-year-old Dutch shepherd was shot in the chest and neck by Dominick Conley on Aug. 23 while Bosco’s owner, Officer Mike Schiele, was trying to serve a warrant. Schiele was shot in the leg.
OSU veterinary technicians put Bosco through about an hour of rehabilitation therapy three times a day. The exercises are meant to build the dog’s strength and balance.
The process includes plenty of kibbles and kissy-noises, too.
“He’s a very easy patient,” said Amanda Waln, a veterinary technician. “He wants to work, and he gets frustrated when he can’t. He’s very motivated.”
Exercises include rocking the dog on a large red peanut-shaped ball called a PhysioRoll and massaging his front legs and paws.
Technicians also lay Bosco on his side, and move his now-paralyzed front legs through their range of motion to improve flexibility.
His immediate reward is treats, praise and the chance to get outside and bask in the sun.
Bosco’s prognosis is uncertain, but his caregivers are optimistic. Bosco took about six steps using his back legs on Saturday. When he first arrived at OSU, veterinarians thought he might be paralyzed from the neck back.
With rehabilitation therapy and medication, he might make a full recovery, Butler said.
“The goal is to increase his strength, his balance and his confidence,” she said. “He needs to believe he can (walk) again.”
For updates on Bosco’s condition, visit http://www.vet.ohio-state.edu.