Austin Owens / The Lantern
Doctors at the Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital watched Wednesday as Bosco the dog walked the room and weaved through cone exercises.
“I think he was a little nervous,” said Dr. Jennifer Au, director of rehabilitation services.
The former Zanesville police dog has continued to make progress after suffering two gunshot wounds in an August arrest, which resulted in neurological injuries and left him indefinitely paralyzed.
After spending weeks under full-time care at the hospital, Bosco slowly began eating and moving on his own. He is now down to four days of therapy each week and couldn’t be in better spirits, Au said.
“We don’t anticipate he’ll return to active duty,” she said. “We’re just trying to get him to be an active pet.”
While she talked, Bosco laid on his pillow and rested, chewing on a toy. The seemingly simple task of walking the room for 15 minutes had worn him out. Au called Bosco’s name and he eagerly, but gingerly, made the attempt to match his caregiver’s request while favoring his hind legs and putting most of his weight on the left side of his body.
Bosco’s nerves have trouble telling his brain where his feet are in relation to his body, and walking is still difficult thanks to the neurological damage, Au said.
Although their goal is to reduce Bosco’s rehab time to one day a week, Au said weekly improvement is expected for six months to one year after his injury.
“The further away you get from the injury, the less improvement you see,” Au said.
A typical week of rehab includes the canine treadmill, electrical stimulation and various other therapeutic exercises achieved through various motivation techniques.
“You really have to figure out what motivates the dog,” Au said.
She said that interaction, food and rewards have been key with Bosco’s progress and described his personality as “friendly and energetic” during his time in the program. There was no brain damage so his mind is intact, but he is still figuring out the changes his body has encountered.