Dog back on all paws after pin-point cure
A puppy paralysed by a mystery condition is back on his feet - thanks to the power of acupuncture.
Seal's carers at Hong Kong Dog Rescue feared they would have no choice but to have the three-month-old black mongrel put to sleep after an MRI scan failed to reveal the cause of his ailment.
But the traditional Chinese therapy yielded rapid results.
'When you suddenly find yourself immobile as a previously boisterous pup it must be awful,' the charity's founder, Sally Anderson, said.
'If a dog can't walk and can't even stand up, his quality of life would be non-existent,' she said, although she was reluctant to discuss the possibility of euthanasia.
An appeal to the public raised HK$20,000 for an MRI scan, with dozens of animal-lovers following his story on the charity's Facebook page.
Anderson, who was looking after Seal and around a dozen other dogs at her home on Lamma Island, found Seal lying on the floor with his legs spread out beneath him just over two weeks ago.
He had been fine the last time she had seen him, and she took him to the Acorn Veterinary Hospital in Sai Ying Pun for an examination by vet Dr Andy Krywawych.
Krywawych found that Seal had no pain response in his legs and had lost control over his bladder.
He believed Seal had suffered some kind of traumatic injury, possibly due to a larger dog jumping on his back or an object falling on him.
Fearing something was compressing Seal's spine, Krywawych decided to arrange an MRI scan.
The week when Seal could not move at all was particularly traumatic, Anderson said.
'Putting him back in his cage was hard for me, but for him it was a lot worse,' she said.
'He was so desperate for me not to leave him but I had no choice.'
She tried to keep Seal's spirits up by bringing other dogs from the kennels to the hospital to keep him company.
The MRI results came out and did not show any spinal problems.
But they also did not give any clues as to why his legs had suddenly become lame and unresponsive, even though his brain was working properly.
So, with surgery no longer an option, Krywawych decided to try acupuncture treatment at the hospital.
On February 11, just a day after starting the acupuncture, Seal started to regain nerve function, and over the next few days he was able to get up, with help. He took his first unaided steps last Tuesday, Valentine's Day, and can now walk and control his urination, although he can't run yet.
Krywawych said it would normally take several months for a dog paralysed by spinal compression to fully recover, even after surgery.
And Seal's story even had a happy ending for another rescued dog, Cotton. Money left over from paying for Seal's treatment has helped pay for surgery on Cotton's knee.
But for Seal, who was brought to the charity from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department's kennel in November with his seven siblings, one challenge remains. The time has come to find the recovering puppy a permanent home.