Web Extra

by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.

On a Sunday morning in October 2012, Tara Johnson and her husband heard their dog “Juno,” a 4-year-old Husky, whimpering several yards from their house. They ran to find her lying on the ground not moving. Although they couldn’t see any bite marks through her fur, they did see saliva on her neck.

“That would be typical of a wolf attack,” said Johnson. “We’d had several wolf sightings near our house a few months before she was injured.”

They immediately drove Juno to a local veterinarian in Lewiston, Idaho. After viewing the x-rays, the veterinarian told them that the neck vertebrae were out of line and referred them to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. They drove Juno up that day.

Additional x-rays at WSU confirmed that her neck was fractured and the bones were out of alignment. Surgery, they were told, was Juno’s best option. With the surgery, the veterinarians gave Juno a 50 percent chance of regaining function of her limbs. But because of the extent of her injuries, the surgery and rehabilitation would cost approximately $6000.

For a one income family with three children, this was more than the family could really afford. Tara’s sister started a fundraising website to help raise some money. Then a friend told Tara about the WSU Good Samaritan Fund.

“I applied, but we didn’t think we’d actually get any money because we were told that there are lots of applications, but only a small number get funds,” said Johnson. “So we were very grateful when we heard we would receive $1000 to go toward her surgery. It gave us a little bit of peace of mind that there is hope in these situations.”

After trying all other options, Juno’s veterinarians decided surgery was indeed necessary and they implanted rods and screws to help to stabilize her cervical vertebrae. A team of WSU neurologists, fourth year veterinary students, and rehabilitation specialists helped Juno to begin healing.

But she wasn’t out of the woods yet. After being home for a few weeks, Juno’s muscles were not lengthening as her veterinarians had hoped and the contracted muscles limited her range of motion.

“She could barely move her limbs and she was in pain,” explained Dr. Adam Schneider, a WSU neurology resident, who developed a special bond with Juno.

Juno was re-admitted to the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital to provide physical rehabilitation including acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasound, and time in the underwater treadmill. Juno’s trust in Dr. Schneider and the rest of Juno’s medical team made it easier to treat her.

“By the end of her stay, she was able to move one front limb and both rear limbs,” said Dr. Schneider. “She could support all her weight temporarily with assistance, and her pain was controlled without medication.”

After a month in the hospital Juno came home. She still could not walk, was on several medications, and needed to return weekly to Pullman for physical therapy. Today Tara does the therapy three times a day at home. It could be several more months, but Tara and Juno’s doctors are hopeful that she will be able to walk again and she is continuing to improve every day.

“Everybody at WSU is amazing and they make you feel like family,” said Johnson. “We are so appreciative. Everyone there is such a hard worker and they touched all of our lives.”

Juno’s medical team was Dr. Annie Chen-Allen, Dr. Adam Schneider, Dr. Kathy Seino, Dr. Stephanie Thomovsky, Lori Lutskas, LVT, CCRP, fourth year student, Trevor Morimoto, and many other
WSU veterinary students.