VTH Throws a Walking Party for Wendy the Greyhound

July 29, 2016

Wendy is the 'Rock Star' at the party in her honor, celebrating her recovery from a serious condition that left her unable to walk and with difficulty breathing.
Wendy is the 'Rock Star' at the party in her honor, celebrating her recovery from a serious condition that left her unable to walk and with difficulty breathing.

Purdue Veterinary Medicine faculty and staff members involved with the services of neurology, physical therapy, intensive care, and emergency and critical care in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital threw a party in Lynn Hall for a very special patient Wednesday, June 20. The theme for the event was "Run like the Wend-y!" in honor of the patient named Wendy, a three-year-old Greyhound. Wendy was brought to the Purdue Animal Emergency Service on May 17, unable to walk or breathe on her own. After weeks of treatment and physical therapy, Wendy is walking and wagging for all to see. This progress definitely seemed cause for celebration with a party and treats for both people and Wendy!

The party was well attended, thanks to Wendy who made lots of friends across the VTH services during her time here. Wendy initially was treated by the emergency and critical care (ECC) team, after her owner brought her in because she was having difficulty walking. Dr. Paula Johnson, clinical assistant professor in emergency and critical care, said that she was progressing and getting worse so rapidly that the changes were happening right before the ECC team's eyes. "She lost the ability to ventilate on her own, so the ER doctor and intern that were on that night called me to say that she didn't appear to be ventilating," said Dr. Johnson. "So she had to be put on a ventilator that night."

Dr. Johnson said that later Wendy was evaluated by the neurology team, had a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tap put in and monitored, and received an MRI, which eventually led to a diagnosis of a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) high up in the spinal cord. Wendy was monitored by the critical care service for about two weeks, while staying on the ventilator and with a tracheostomy tube in place for a week, fighting through pneumonia, and receiving several chest radiographs. Once she was breathing on her own, Wendy transferred to neurology and soon began physical therapy (PT).

Dr. Stephanie Thomovsky, clinical assistant professor of veterinary neurology, said that when Wendy came to neurology and PT, she started by doing standing exercises and weight shifting on a physioball. She then worked her way through harnesses, a dog cart, and Greyhound toys until she began walking on the underwater treadmill. "She eventually switched out of neurology into solely physical therapy," said Dr. Thomovsky. "Wendy is officially an outpatient coming in every other day now."

Both Drs. Johnson and Thomovsky attribute some of Wendy's astounding progress to the teamwork of all the teams from the various departments treating her. "When you have a dog that's tetraplegic, big problems that come up are urinary tract infections, aspiration pneumonia and bedsores. We really lucked out - I think it was partially luck, but really a lot of it is how good our caregivers are," Dr. Thomovsky explained. "The neuro team that was treating her, the students and residents, and the nurses all were very diligent. This allowed her to have very mild pressure sores. She never had a UTI, which is very shocking." Dr. Johnson added, "We were lucky she didn't get those things, but I really think it's because our team worked so hard to switch her and rotate her. Wendy is a tremendous case. This is definitely a demonstration of a team effort - everybody pitching in and working together," Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Thomovsky also said that Wendy's owner has helped with her progress tremendously. "Not a lot of owners can deal with the emotional aspect, too. This owner has come in every single day since Wendy was transferred to neurology; he's worked with the dog when we've done PT; he's doing a lot of the PT at home right now," said Dr. Thomovsky. "He's been a phenomenal asset in giving her the support she needs." Drs. Johnson and Thomovsky also said Wendy just being herself has been great, too. Dr. Johnson said Wendy is a little rock star, while Dr. Thomovsky described Wendy as quite a fighter herself. "We joke that the angry dogs are the ones that pull through, and she was angry. Though she was always easy to work with, she will let you know when she's over it," said Dr. Thomovsky. "I think that fire has been helpful to her getting better, too."

An entire team of faculty, staff, students and residents came to Wendy's aid, helping her to a miraculous recovery.  They celebrated her success with Wendy's owner, Yan Oueis, pictured in the front, 2nd from right.
An entire team of faculty, staff, students and residents came to Wendy's aid, helping her to a miraculous recovery. They celebrated her success with Wendy's owner, Yan Oueis, pictured in the front, 2nd from right.
Party guests signed a special card for the beloved patient and her owner.
Party guests signed a special card for the beloved patient and her owner.
Wendy takes a walk in the courtyard as her party winds down.
Wendy takes a walk in the courtyard as her party winds down.

Writer: Kelsey Johnson, PVM Summer Communications Intern, pvmnews@purdue.edu


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