Bourbon: My Inspiration

Bourbon with his brace on one of our many hikes

Bourbon entered my life when I decided to volunteer for Best Friends in helping clean up after hurricane Katrina. He was a stubborn puppy and full of opinions but such a good boy.

In 2015, when he was 10 years old, I noticed a thickening of his Achille’s tendon. We performed ultrasound, biopsied and came on conclusion that it was either an early tumor or a partial rupture (in the end it was a partial rupture). Slowly he became hyperflexed in his hock which led to hyperflexion of his toes on that leg. I took him to UC Davis and was told the choice was either surgery or rehabilitation. At 10 years of age with a long recovery and only 50% chance it would work I elected rehabilitation. Unfortunately, at the time the only option was UC Davis, and I couldn’t take that much time off work to drop him off 2-3 times a week.

I decided that I would learn what I needed to know in order to rehabilitate him properly at home. This led to my certification in acupuncture which in turn led to my certification in physical therapy/rehabilitation and eventually veterinary spinal manipulation in order to stay ahead of all of the compensatory changes of his condition. He had a custom brace that allowed him to be outside and play all day and to go on adventures and hikes with us.

He did well with his brace (which had to be replaced 3 times during his lifetime), VSMT every 2-4 weeks, electroacupuncture every 2 weeks, superpulsed cold laser therapy every 2 weeks or as needed with his body work. It wasn’t until 2021 that his other hock started having some weakness and his senility got worse. We made the choice to let him go and that was one of the hardest things I have done. All my previous dogs had severe arthritis, cancer or other severe condition that made the decision a little easier.

He led a wonderful life and I learned so much about his disease as well as the compensatory changes it caused. This has helped me immensely in treating patients in my care now with creativity and compassion. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if I would have made that leap into this wonderful portion of veterinary medicine this soon in my career. I have always been nervous about change and scared to put myself out there, but I cared about him more. Funny enough my mother found a letter I wrote to myself in undergrad of college and in that letter my goal in life was to become a sport medicine veterinarian. Thank you, Bourbon, for being my inspiration, I love you.