Theo is a special boy with special needs, which means additional expenses, likely throughout his lifetime. He has a spinal injury resulting from IVDD that's left his back legs paralyzed. He also has no control over his bladder or bowels.
Funds raised will be used for medical and rehab treatments, training and the various supplies we need for him on a daily basis as more fully described below.
We have always paid and cared for our own dogs but rescue is a team sport and we truly appreciate everyone’s generosity and love and support with this amazing boy!
I’m an accountant and I love spreadsheets so I’ll be diligently tracking all use of funds raised and information can be provided upon request.
HOW WILL THE FUNDS BE USED?
Medical and Rehab Treatments
Theo has been going to regular visits with a rehab vet and receives acupuncture, cold laser and other treatments designed to stimulate his nerves. They also do some muscle work, joint movement exercises and general wellness checks since paralyzed dogs can manifest more issues than other dogs (plus deal with my weekly panic attacks when I think I’ve somehow broken him…which it’s turns out is never the case). While we don’t know that he will walk on his own again, we are seeing some small markers of progress in certain areas and because of this, we plan to continue his treatment until this progress reaches a plateau.
He is definitely getting stronger every day. His front legs and core strength are very good and at times, it’s actually looks like he is standing using his back legs. Because of this, his vet thinks he can learn to be a “spinal walker” and while he may not regain the use of his back legs, he could mimic the movement of walking with muscle memory. This is something we are working towards at rehab and another reason it’s important to continue his treatments.
Since his bladder needs to be expressed, he is more prone to UTIs than dogs that can expel urine on their own so he will need to have regular urinalysis testing and medications where appropriate.
While we now have Theo on an insurance plan for any new medical issues going forward (Frenchies are like expensive cars. When they break down the repairs are always costly), it will not cover anything related to his spinal injury or current treatments so all of the above will be out of pocket expenses for us.
Theo doesn’t seem to have had any basic training knowledge and doesn’t even react to hearing his name. This kid definitely needs to learn some manners in order to be a happy and productive member of the family and society. It’s highly important that we maintain a calm home life for all of the dogs so that everyone (including the humans) can live their best life. Teaching Theo appropriate behavior is one step towards achieving this goal. It’s also important that our three girls learn how to adapt to Theo. Theo also doesn’t seem to know how to appropriately respond to new dogs and humans outside of the house. Therefore, a lot of training is required both for him and myself as his human to learn and understand his signals and behaviors and correct and mitigate them where appropriate. At this stage, we feel that both in home training with the other three dogs and one on one out of the home training is better than group classes for Theo. Such training can be costly so a portion of funds raised will go towards this training expense.
While miracles can always happen, we don’t currently expect that Theo will regain control of his bladder and bowels. This means we have regular expenses for his diapers and belly bands and things like diaper creams, powders, wipes and waterless shampoo.
He is also prone to sores on his feet from dragging so on a daily basis, I clean his feet, wrap them in gauze and adhesive medical tape and put sock on him (which wear out and need to be replaced). Treating his feet in this way also prevents him from chewing and licking his feet and ultimately injuring himself since he has no feeling and can take that chewing and licking too far.
Because his bladder has to be expressed he is prone to UTIs so he takes supplements to mitigate such issues. He also takes supplements to ensure his stool is firm which makes diaper life significantly easier. Theo is on a raw diet both for the health benefits and the fact that dogs tend require less water and have smaller stools, both of which are favorable results for a diaper pup.
The struggle is real with a diaper baby because it’s always a challenging mission to keep those diapers on! Suspenders and onesies help with this endeavor but suspenders lose their elasticity and grip and need to be replaced regularly for optimal effectiveness.
We have an Amazon Wishlist set up for Theo where you can purchase some of the items we use regularly. The shipping address will be under "Theo" when you check out. You can view and select items from his Wishlist here The Wishlist will also help you get an idea of the types of items we buy for Theo.
On January 4, 2020, I got a call about a French bulldog that had been surrendered to his vet and needed a foster family. The catch: he was paralyzed (can’t use his back legs and has no control of his bladder and bowels) and if I didn’t decide in about 45 minutes, he would be euthanized. Perfect. No pressure. For those of you who don’t know me, I already have three dogs (one who can be reactive to other dogs if she decides they are not cool enough to hang with her), I have never dealt with a special needs animal, was not in the market for a foster and have some health issues of my own that limit mobility. I always wanted to be the type of person that would immediately say yes without hesitation to something like this but the prospect of taking this dog for an unspecified amount of time was terrifying to me and was certainly something that required at least some thought.
I got off the phone and started crying hysterically at the idea that this dog could be euthanized if I couldn’t take him simply because I was worried it could be too hard. Once I was able to calm down and refocus my thoughts, I realized that maybe I could do this. Shortly thereafter (about 10 minutes since the clock was ticking) I found out that our amazing friends at Hoosier Bulldog Rescue had agreed to take Theo on and cover his care and that once he was stabilized he would be transported to them in Indiana. Knowing that there was an end game, I knew with certainty that I could now take Theo (at that time, I didn’t know his name or even what he looked like). We had expected that he would have surgery that day and stay at the vet while recovering. This meant I’d have a few days to prepare for his arrival. Or so I thought. The neurologist determined that because Theo had no deep pain response and because he was well outside the 24 hour window since the injury occurred the chance of success was low and surgery was not a good option. So, I got the call that I needed to go pick him up before the vet closed. The vet was close to an hour away so I got myself together and headed out to get Theo, not knowing at all what to expect when I got there.
What I found was a sweet boy with the most gentle eyes. Despite what he had been through the past few days becoming paralyzed and surrendered by his family, he was surprising happy and full of life. He was wiggling his little butt all over the place. To think this bright soul could have been euthanized is unfathomable. He let me hold him on my lap and was such a good boy when the vet tech showed me how to express his bladder (which looked super simple when he did it but proved more challenging when I got home and tried myself). Theo was great on the car ride home.
Once we arrived, I took him straight to my office and put him in a pen I’d set up for him. The instructions were to keep him on crate rest. None of my dogs saw him. We kept it this way for quite some time because we thought it as better for everyone.
The next few days were a little challenging as I tried to deal with expressing his bladder and figuring out the diaper situation. Easier said that done. There were a lot of messes to clean up. He had a terrible rash from urine burns, which I felt helpless to get under control. I also threw out my back so bending over to do what I needed to do was difficult. But despite everything, the situation was somehow entirely less stressful than I had prepared myself for. Theo made it easy because he was such a good boy. It was only a matter of days before I fell completely in love with him. I’m not sure if it was the way he looked at me with those beautiful eyes or the fact that I knew he needed me but the connectionI formed with him was very strong and I started to become very sad at the thought of him not being around. But, the plan was for him to fly to Chicago, the Saturday after I first got him, to be turned over to Hoosier Bulldog Rescue (they were going to drive 3 hours back and forth from Indiana to pick him up).
Originally, I was not going to travel with him but I noticed that he had started to display some levels of anxiety and since he was comfortable with me, I decided to book a ticket and travel with Theo and my amazing Frenchie mom friend and support system through this, Veronica. Something inside me told me I just needed to go. The day of our flight there was a terrible storm in the Midwest and flights in and out of Chicago were significantly delayed or canceled. After a 3 hour known delay, we finally went to the airport. The events that transpired next were sone of the most terrifying of my life. Shortly after we cleared security at the airport, Theo had a panic attack and went into respiratory distress. We tried everything to get the situation under control but he was hyperventilating and vomiting excessively. We made the decision to leave the airport and rush him to a 24/hr emergency vet. For a visual, imagine 2 hysterical Frenchie moms running through an airport with a dog in having a panic attack. When we reached the hospital, his temperature was 108 degrees and his tongue had turned blue. The kid had a near death experience and we are fortunate that we were not on the airplane. After being sedated and placed in an oxygen chamber, his vitals finally normalized and he was brought out to see us. It was determined that he did not need to stay overnight and that he could come home with me.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn't relieved and happy about being able to bring him home and not go to Chicago and I think in somehow, it was Theo's way of saying he wanted to stay with us in Miami. I just would have preferred that he deliver this message in a slightly less dramatic fashion.
In my heart I always felt like I wanted to keep Theo but 4 dogs is a lot of dogs and I had to consider how I would deal with his special needs and how he would get along with my girls. Over the next 2 months, I spent every day with Theo and my dogs really learning what life was like with him and evaluating whether it was the best decision for everyone if he became a permanent member of our family. After three weeks on crate rest he was finally cleared to use his wheels (which he loves!) and start moving around the house. It was then that he discovered his favorite place: the toy box! He also got to meet Suki, Kiko and Maaya and for the most part, things went well although assimilation with a new dog is a learning curve for everyone.
There were a lot of difficult days where I felt stressed over one thing or another and really didn't think we could keep him. The prospect of saying goodbye to him shattered my heart and a lot of tears were shed. Sometimes I felt stressed because I had a lot of trouble expressing his bladder or because he freaked out at the rehab vet or because fights would break out with him and the girls, often just over small things and I worried it wasn't a safe or healthy environment for any of them. But as he started to enjoy the consistency and security of every day life, things got better. I got a ton of love, support and encouragement from Neely at Hoosier Bulldog Rescue, Veronica, my airport emergency partner in crime and local crazy Frenchie mom bestie, my family and friends and so many of my Instagram and Facebook friends who were cheering us and Theo on. Finally, I got to a place where I knew in my heart that our home was the best place for Theo and that my three girls had accepted him (however, we still deal with issues which is why the training is so important). He is very relaxed at at peace here and has bonded with both my husband and I on a very special level. So, we pulled the trigger and have officially adopted him and we look forward to all having a long and happy life together.
We were definitely not in the market for a 4th dog but sometimes life throws you a curveball and you just go with it. At this point, we can't imagine our lives without our Theo. This kid has such a zest for life and such a beautiful spirit and I've gain a new perspective on life because of him.
You can read more about Theo’s story on Hoosier Bulldog Rescue’s page for Theo here . They are an such an amazing organization and we are so grateful for everything they have done for Theo and our family. If anyone is ever looking for a rescue to support, we highly recommend this one.
xoxo, Theo and Family
- Patti Campbell-lambert
- Bully Brand Crew
- Alissa Bowen
- Suzanne Rudisell
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