Life with Louise: Her Journey with the Veterinary Program
Late first semester, a special needs puppy named Louise came to South Tech and stole the hearts of everyone she met. Her journey was an educational one for our students and instructors, and an emotional one for us all.
Louise joined the South Tech Veterinary program family through our rescue partner Saving G.R.A.C.E. (Giving Rescue Animals Chances Everyday) which was founded and is managed by instructor Erica Zengerling. She and her co-instructor, Donna Hobbs, have always felt that partnering with rescue groups and allowing students to interact with stray foster animals on a regular basis is so beneficial. They have both always had a soft spot for animals in dire need and their love of the “underdog” has allowed them to expose students to many animals with medical issues while teaching them about their care.
Louise arrived as a four month old, purebred German Shepherd weighing only thirteen pounds. Not only was she extremely tiny for her size, but she was also loaded with internal parasites. The most notable and concerning issue, however, was the very odd shape of Louise’s spine. Together, the instructors and students learned about Louise’s needs and what to do as a team to ensure this sweet puppy received the best care. Through a specialist they discovered that Louise’s spinal deformity was made up of a combination of diagnoses; Spina Bifida, Scoliosis, severe Kyphosis, Hemivertebra, and sections of fused vertebra. These deformities caused Louise to have substantial issues regarding her rear end mobility and bathroom habits. It was apparent from the very beginning that Louise was one of a kind and hands-down the most special of foster animals to ever set paws in their classroom.
Louise began teaching lessons the moment she bunny-hopped into the classroom. While awaiting the official word on Louise’s condition, students conducted their own personal case study projects in which they used radiographs and veterinary notes from her history to research her potential diagnosis and draft treatment plans they felt would be of the greatest benefit. The instructors were proud to report that the majority of the students’ case studies and treatment recommendations were very similar to those of the local veterinary specialists who evaluated Louise.
Once the diagnosis and treatment plan was determined and Louise’s potential outcomes were considered, everyone in the program worked to keep on top of Louise’s daily regimen. Students learned a number of physical therapy exercises from Louise’s acupuncture specialist veterinarian, Dr. Hemmett with Healthy Balance Veterinary Acupuncture, LLC, and from her hydrotherapy specialist, Kaylyn Colatruglio. Both our students and instructors learned about the benefits of acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF). They also learned to use a tool called an Assisi Loop to administer Louise’s daily PEMF therapy in the classroom. Because Louise needed to take several medications multiple times a day, our students learned a great deal about administering medications to dogs and took her therapies and medical needs very seriously.
These new lessons were so worthwhile because, with time, Louise began to slowly but surely progress. Her mobility levels increased, her muscles strengthened, and even her bathroom habits became more normal. Everyone worked diligently to make sure Louise got the best chance at a great life and, because of their hard work, Louise is now ready to move to her forever home.
It took a caring and dedicated village to bring Louise to the point she is now and our veterinary students were a big part of that village. Louise was a wonderful “lesson” we will ever forget.
Families interested in learning more about Louise or in adopting her, please contact Erica Zengerling at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Veterinary Assistant program, please visit our program page.