When Reggie was seven years old he ran full tilt into a gate and damaged his spine and neck. He went from being a freight train that could run you down to a staggering, unbalanced, damaged dog. I took him to every kind of vet and specialist. The consensus was that nothing could be done for him except a $10,000 surgery that may buy him a few extra months of life. Needless to say I didn't have that kind of money laying around and wouldn't want to put him through that kind of trauma. He was at the point where he could barely walk, couldn't go outside to go to do his business without falling in it. I'd follow him around the yard and hold him up while he went poo, then wiped him and cleaned him up like a baby. And he's my baby. At his lowest point he had to be carried on a blanket (like a stretcher) to make it the two steps down into the yard. It became apparent that I'd have to make a decision for him regarding his life. Or his death.
Then one morning I was stewing about him and decided to look in the phone book one more time to see if there was another vet I could take him too. There was an ad for a local vet that advertised acupuncture and Chinese medicine in addition to traditional western veterinary medicine. Enter Creature Comforts Animal Hospital in Grand Junction. I took Reggie to meet Dr. Aimee Johnson and that's where everything changed. Aimee treated Reggie with Chinese herbs, acupuncture and laser therapy. Reg was down from his usual 150 pounds to a mere 120. Which seems pretty big still, but with a dog that size, Reggie was skeletal. The bones of his hips and spine showed through. His head was a sunken skull with skin draped over it. Reggie's supplements and treatments began to help him improve. He gained strength and muscle again but was still very iffy with the whole business of walking. Then an amazing thing happened.
Dr. Johnson called me to let me know that she had been talking with a local medical doctor (the people kind) about stem cells. It seems that he had been treating people with their own stem cells, harvested from their own fat and re-injected back into their bodies with excellent results. Stem cells have this unique ability to seek out damaged areas of the body and repair things. And she was willing to try it on Reggie. Reggie, the giant guinea pig. We had no idea if it would work or not but were out of options.
Reg went to the vets office one morning to get his stem cells liposuctioned from the fat on his sides. After that procedure, the stem cells were injected into his neck and put into his bloodstream via an IV. We took him home and waited to see what would happen. For the first week there was nothing different that we could see. The second week he began to be more steady on his feet. By the fourth week it was clear that something good was happening. He could go down the stairs by himself. He could squat in the yard without falling. He regained all his weight and put on muscle. Two months after his treatment he was running. And not just running but spinning, pivoting, leaping and rolling over in the grass with his feet in the air like he did when he was a puppy. He came back. Full force! This is one of those stories that if I hadn't been a witness to it, it would be easy enough to disbelieve. Reggie's recovery was nothing short of miraculous. He's a rockstar and he's my best friend. This experience has shown me what can happen with stem cells, talented and caring vets, support from friends and family and a whole lot of love.
I write this now because Reggie is beginning to get weak and unsteady again. Losing weight and getting shaky. Of course, it could be old age. Nine is getting up there in the land of Great Dane world. But he's here. His eyes still sparkle. He still cocks his head to look at me sometimes like I'm completely nuts. He still gets excited for car rides and walks and treats and belly rubs.
I am a farmer and an artist. Half of my fruit froze out this year and funds for surviving the year are low. I don't have the means to get Reggie another round of stem cell therapy (about $1500.00 now). I'm asking you to help Reg get what he needs. It might sound frivolous to some, but what wouldn't you do to help your friend? One who's been there for you all along without asking for anything in return? So here I am. Humbly asking for your help. And I thank you for reading this and sharing this story with those whose pets may benefit if for no other reason than to let others know about this awesome, life giving therapy.
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