Doggie Qi

VCA Northside Animal Hospital, San Bernardino, CA


The mystical happens—everywhere and to every living creature.

DannyBoy, the best red dog since Clifford, turned twelve last August. Once a righteous jumper, the muscles in his back legs have slowly atrophied to about half their size. He gets around, but on cold, rainy mornings, of which we’ve had plenty lately, moving is hard. He is stiff. He turns down food. He can’t get comfortable.

Last Tuesday, I took him to the VCA Northside Animal Hospital, to see what the doctors there could do for him. I grew up in this area and my family has been taking their animals to Northside since 1983. Many of our animals have been healed there or been sent to rainbow heaven in their loving, capable hands.

We saw Dr. Lee, a resident, newbie, and not my favorite. He recommended a bevy of pain meds, a new diet, supplements, and on and on. When he left the exam room, Curt, one of the techs whom I adore, sat down with me, told me which medicines I actually needed and which ones I didn’t, and also recommended acupuncture. He told me he had it done on his oldest Malamute for arthritis and hip problems, and it worked very well.

I am of the opinion that the less artificial chemicals either I or my pets ingest, the better. The idea of acupuncture gave me hope.

I took DannyBoy in yesterday to see Dr. Chao, a pet acupuncturist who rotates through local animal hospitals throughout the week. He was a kind man who may have grown up with a stammer, as he still had traces of it in his speech. He looked over DannyBoy’s chart, gave his hips and legs a feel and rotation, and told me he thought he could help. He and another favorite vet tech got down on the floor with DannyBoy. The tech held him as Dr. Chao administered the treatment.

img_1270DannyBoy was UN-happy. I know it’s for the best, but listening to his little cries as the doctor placed the needles in a line on either side of his spine was T.U.F.F. Once the needles were in, it seemed DannyBoy didn’t even feel them, but that initial prick was hard.

In the end, DB ended up with a needle near the top of his head, a line of needles down each side of his spine, a few on his hind end, and a few in each of his back legs, knees, and hips.

It tickled me because, when Dr. Chao and the tech released him, he promptly shook out about five or six of the needles. The doc laughed and said that was fine. The point was to stimulate those areas. He left us for fifteen minutes so the stimulation from what was left of the needles could continue. DB relaxed, laid down, and waited like a champ.

When the fifteen minutes were up, a tech I’ve never met before who had a dude-bro haircut and a scruffy beard came in and removed the needles. No pain for DB at all.

He trotted happily into the waiting room where we paid our $69 fee. Steep, I know, but what wouldn’t we give to free our pets from pain?

In the waiting room, I met a lady with a big, beautiful, lovey-boy of a dobie. He was there for acupuncture on his hips also. She told me it had worked wonders for her pooch who had dysplasia. That made me feel better.

danny-faceThis morning, DB seems to be doing fabulously. He woke with a spring in his step. He is walking more fluidly. He wanted to play ball. He wanted to jump around and bark. In other words, he was his old self. I noticed last night that he was able to sleep in one spot all through the night, which he hasn’t been able to do, I’m sure because of the arthritis pain. I imagine a good night’s sleep also contributed to his royal puppiness this morning.

Before the treatment, Dr. Chao told me he approached acupuncture from more of a philosophical (read spiritual) bent and asked if that was all right. He definitely hit the right chord with me and I was thrilled.

I have always been skeptical of acupuncture, but I’m a believer now. This morning I bought a Groupon for my bestie and I to go get poked sometime in the near future. In the meantime, I’m going to do a little more research and learn about Qi beyond the fact that opening up the flow of it releases doggies and their people from pain.


About M. Ashley

Essayist and poet, my work has been rejected by some of the finest journals in America. Fortunately, it also gets accepted from time to time and has appeared in equally fine journals such as Word Riot, Inlandia, Brew City Magazine, and SageWoman among others.. In 2002, I was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize for Vanderbilt University. For no good reason, I possess an unnecessarily dark humor which is why being third generation California Inland Empirian delights me so. My gods are weird. I once received $350 for writing a smartassed essay on “why the wise use of water is important in my daily life”. I am undoubtedly the Greek god Hermes’ special snowflake. I’m pretty sure I got into college via a series of fortuitous clerical errors. When I had to grow up and get a real job, I decided against it and stayed a writer. I have worked many odd—and I mean odd—jobs to support my habit: Commercial writer for country music hopefuls, resume massager, WalMart fitting room attendant and switchboard operator, telephone psychic.
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