Help Lucy Run Again

On August 8th, my 5 year old Brittany Spaniel Lucy was seriously injured while playing at the Clinton Lake Off-Leash Dog Park.  I foster Brittany Spaniels for the American Brittany Rescue and had recently volunteered to take in a sweet but crazy foster pup named Willow.  We had gone to the dog park in hopes of running some energy off Willow and I took Lucy along to help in the matter.  It was the first time I've ever been to that park in 13 years of living in Lawrence.  We had been playing fetch for about an hour and having a wonderful evening.  Lucy loves to run and adores a tennis ball so she was in heaven playing fetch.  I decided to throw the ball one more time before gathering the girls up to head home.  Lucy jumped up in the air to catch the ball and was t-boned by an 80 lb Lab that came out of nowhere.  At the time Lucy was 35 lbs of solid mucsle but she was no match for the Lab moving with the force of a freight train.  She hit the ground screaming in pain with terror in her eyes because she was immediately paralyzed in both of her hind legs.  I scooped her up in my arms and started walking briskly to my car, knowing something was seriously wrong with my sweet girl, and scard to death that I was hurting her even more by moving her.  The owner of the Lab did help gather Willow up and got us to the car, but he did not offer his name or phone number.  Just said he hoped she was ok, that she was probably in shock. 

We went to the Blue Pearl Emergency Room in KC that night where they informed me that she had no feeling or movement in her back legs and the x-ray showed nothing.  They wanted their neurologist to take a look at her the next day before making any decsions.  The neurologist eventually did a CT Scan which showed that Lucy's L-4 vertebrae had been completely shattered on the left side and a bone chip was pressing on her spinal cord, likely causing the majority of her symptoms.  At the time I was given three awful choices:
1. Drive Lucy to Mizzou Veterninary Hospital and have them perform a high risk/high reward surgery involving drilling into her already shattered bone and remove the bone chip.  Every doctor I talked to told me the odds of them doing more damage than good was very likely but if they could pull it off then it was luch's best chance of getting back to normal.
2. Perform a surgery at Blue Pearl involving placing two plates on either side of the shattered bone while leaving the chip that was pressing on her spinal cord.  There was less than 5% chance of this procedure actually helping Lucy to walk or lead anything close to a normal life.
3. Not do any surgery and bring Lucy home to heal and see what happens. 

All three options involved 8-12 weeks of being extremely limited in movement along with range of motion rehab three times a day.  Options 2 & 3 would likely mean a colostomy bag the entire recovery time and potentially forever with no real promise of Lucy ever being the active, athletic dog that she is at heart.  I chose option 1 and drove her to Mizzou on August 10th.  By the grace of God, the incredibly talented surgeons at Mizzou were able to remove the chip from Lucy's spine after a 4 hour surgery.  Within days she was able to go to the bathroom on her own and put some weight on her back right leg.  I took her home on August 18th and had to become a pet rehab specialist overnight.  It's been extremely challenging for all of us to say the least. 

Lucy had her 8 week follow up appointment October 6th and received a relatively optimistic prognosis.  She's back up to 35 lbs after being down to 30 lbs.  The left edge of her vertebrae has completely healed which is very good.  However, there are still 2 fractures on the bone that need more time to heal.  On another positive note, she was cleared to go on two 10 minute walks a day and no longer is required to use a sling to support her hips when she walks.  Lucy moves relatively well on three legs and her left leg shows slow signs of improvement.  She takes more strides with it each day but still knuckles it enough that she has worn fur off the knuckles of her toes.  Hopefully she will be able to walk more normally after another couple of months.

Through it all, Lucy has been such a strong, happy girl.  Fortunately, animals don't know what self-pity is.  I had no idea how stubborn she is but it's a fabulous quality for what she is going through.  She wants love above all else, even more than food, water, etc. and there isn't a person she hasn't met that she doesn't love. 

So far I have spent approximately $10,000 to save Lucy.  I'm sure that sounds absurd to some.  I never thought I would be that person, but my dogs are my family.  They are who I come home to after a long day at work.  They bring tremendous happiness to my heart and I cannot imagine life without them. 

Any help you can give is greatly appreciated!

I've attached a few pictures of Lucy from right after the accident and some from before so that you can get a sense of her personality. 

Thanks so much for your time!


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  • Ronald ONeil 
    • $100 
    • 19 mos
  • Marian Myers 
    • $25 
    • 26 mos
  • Terry Mixdorf 
    • $50 
    • 29 mos
  • Jim & Lori Turner 
    • $25 
    • 29 mos
  • Wendy Kegley 
    • $100 
    • 29 mos
See all


Erin O'Neil 
Lawrence, KS
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