Paralysed dog defies odds to walk again after spinal stroke

The vets had warned little Maggie’s owners that she may not be able to ever use her back legs again

A dog who was left paralysed after a spinal stroke has defied the odds and is now able to walk again without the help of a wheelchair.

Vets initially thought that five-year-old shweenie Maggie had suffered from a strain when her owners Megan Donoghue, aged 23, and Jacob Beesley, age 24, noticed their pet shuffling awkwardly around the house.

The couple immediately took her to the vet who suggested Maggie may have suffered from a strain and sent her home. Hours after their visit to the vet, however, her little legs started buckling beneath her and her back legs became completely paralysed.

Megan and Jacob, from St Helen’s, Merseyside, rushed her to a  specialist hospital for pets where they discovered she had fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE). FCE is a sudden onset spine injury that happens when a piece of cartilage from the disc blocks blood flow to the spinal cord, causing a stroke and resulting in paralysis.

After weeks of treatment, Maggie’s health has now improved, and she is finally able to walk again unaided.

“I can’t give up on her”

Megan and Jacob, who are parents to two-year-old daughter Elodie Beesley, were even told that they should consider putting their beloved pet down after the devastating diagnosis. They were determined, however, to try everything to find a treatment option for Maggie. They immediately began a routine of therapies including hydrotherapy twice a week, physiotherapy up to twice a week and acupuncture every two weeks.

Megan said: “After scans and tests, they discovered that what they thought was a disc injury was actually a spinal stroke, which there is no cure for. The vets told us that she was the highest grade and that she’d need lots of physiotherapies, but there was no guarantee that she would ever use her back legs again. They even mentioned putting her down. We were gutted but I just said  ‘I can’t give up on her without doing everything I can.”

Pictured Maggie, Shweenie (darker), and Sid, White Malshi (lighter). Maggie is now able to play with her best friend again after suffering a spinal stroke and being told she may never use her back legs again.
Pictured Maggie, Shweenie (darker), and Sid, White Malshi (lighter). Maggie is now able to play with her best friend again after suffering a spinal stroke and being told she may never use her back legs again.
Pictured Maggie, Shweenie (darker), and Sid, White Malshi (lighter). Maggie is now able to play with her best friend again after suffering a spinal stroke and being told she may never use her back legs again.

The couple also continued her treatment at home using a vibrating massage tool, a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machine and regular massages that helped boost circulation. Megan’s family also raised money to get the pup her very own wheelchair which has given Maggie a new sense of freedom. After months of dedication to her various therapies, Maggie took her first steps unassisted in August.

“When I saw her walk again I felt so happy”

Megan said that they believed the chances of their pet walking again were slim after she did not walk for many weeks, but then she defied the odds and stood on her own paws again.

Megan said: “The vet had said that it takes about three months maximum for a dog to recover, so when it passed that point we were not as optimistic. I remember thinking ‘She’s gonna be paralysed forever, this is it now’ - it was heartbreaking. But when I saw her walk again I felt so happy - all the time and effort was worth it. Now she runs around the beach, plays with us and her brother Sid - who is a five-year-old white Maltese Shih Tzu. It’s amazing.”

Pictured: Dog Maggie’s owners Jacob Beesley and and Megan Donoghue with their daughter Elodie Beesley.
Pictured: Dog Maggie’s owners Jacob Beesley and and Megan Donoghue with their daughter Elodie Beesley.
Pictured: Dog Maggie’s owners Jacob Beesley and and Megan Donoghue with their daughter Elodie Beesley.

This journey has not been easy for the couple, however, as Megan said even though they love their pet they had to consider if they could afford the £400 a month for her therapies. Seeing Maggie walk unaided, run around on the beach and play with their daughter made it all worthwhile for them though.

She said: “I had no idea what FCE even was before this but it can happen so suddenly that people should know about it. We really prioritised consistency, even at the hardest time, which is the reason she’s made such amazing progress. We’ve been ensuring that her quality of life was always the highest it could be and now she’s living the best life she can.”