By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Visitors to the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County would never guess that just a few months ago a little white puff-ball of a puppy named Buffy was once paralyzed.
The one-year-old stray female Maltese/poodle mix arrived at the animal shelter on Nov. 26 courtesy of Indian River County animal control. She was diagnosed with paralysis in her back legs, but her condition was not so severe that the veterinarians on staff gave up hope.
Dr. Lyndall Soule said Buffy still possessed the ability to feel some pain in her rear paws, so she decided to see if acupuncture would make a difference and possibly help her walk again.
The acupuncture did more than help her regain some mobility,
"Buffy is now racing around," said Janet Winikoff, education director for the animal shelter.
When Buffy came to the shelter, she was incontinent but the therapy has given her the ability to feel again and can be housebroken, making her even more adoptable.
"She has exceeded all of the goals I had for her recovery and still continues to make progress with once a week acupuncture treatments," Dr. Soule said in an email.
"Buffy's future has no boundaries. She is now able to navigate small stairs and acts self-sufficient when she achieves a task which has previously not been within her powers of mobility," the veterinarian said.
This is not the first time Dr. Soule has used acupuncture therapy on shelter animals, but it doesn't make the results less emotional and special.
"(Seeing) Buffy walk down the hall carrying her favorite toy, which is as big as she is, brought tears to my eyes," Dr. Soule said.
Buffy is available for adoption, Ms. Winikoff said.
Her future adoptive family should know that she is likely to need follow-up "tune up" acupuncture treatments and requires regular activity such as walks or swimming with a life vest in warm water for therapy.
For more information about the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, visit www.hsvb.org.