The benefits of dog ownership are well-known. “Owning a dog can lift your mood or help you feel less stressed.” For veterans and others with disabilities, the benefits of have a dog, specifically service dogs, go beyond this: dogs can serve by helping or even doing certain tasks that the handlers cannot do themselves.
However, what happens when the dog is the one with a brain injury? Yes, dog’s skulls are harder than humans and surrounded by protective fluid, both of which make brain injuries less common in them. (This is definitely beneficial for animals that play/fight for fun, may bump into coffee tables as they chase after toys, etc.) Canines though, can get brain injuries in the same ways that humans can: a car accident, a fall, etc. The possible symptoms are also similar to those of humans: bleeding from the nose or ears, coma, confusion, death, disorientation, facial weakness, lethargy, loss of consciousness, paralysis, pupil dilation, seizures, and stumbling.
Once these symptoms begin to occur what do you do? For these members of the family, seeking medical help should be the next step. Going to the local veterinarian is definitely the appropriate action, but there are also neuro-veterinarian specialists. While this is a very limited profession, it’s not impossible to find. It is fortuitous to an injured canine if their owner lives in Arizona, as they have access to this professional expertise. (For example, Lucky, a dog found shot in the Arizona desert by border control officers earlier this year, was relatively fortunate that such help was available to him.)
One thing not to do is to abandon the dog. This is what happened earlier this month to one dog in Sacramento, CA . A woman, assuredly not the owner, found an injured dog on the streets and brought him to the Sacramento County Bradshaw Animal Shelter. The dog, now named Thomas, has gone through multiple tests, yet the doctors still do not know what happened to him, just that it resulted in a severe brain injury. “He is such a fighter… Baby Thomas wants everyone to know he is determined to heal, grow up and live a long, mischievous life!” This and so many other examples show the need for Sacramento Counties non-profit T.E.A.M. – Teaching Everyone Animals Matter. (As of March 16, the owner of Thomas has still not been found. T.E.A.M. is now offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.)
(Most states have laws prohibiting animal cruelty. For example, 3 weeks ago, a 27-year-old man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for abusing his boxer puppy. Most of these states also have a law prohibiting animal abandonment.)
The picture above is that of my parents’ dog as a puppy. The dog is now 10 and does not have a brain injury, but this is such a cute picture that I had to post it.