Belle - December, 2013.JPGAs one of America’s most popular dogs, the Golden Retriever has fans far and wide for its kind temperament, eagerness to learn, and good looks. Carrie Johnston of Vancouver, British Columbia loves Goldens as well, and when a rescue group called her about a new Golden it had just pulled from a neglectful situation, she gladly took her in.


Belle had spent the first three years of her life in a wooden box under a porch in northern Canada. She was almost completely feral. She had panic disorder, wasn’t housebroken, was physically in terrible shape and afraid of humans, not to mention she was terribly malnourished, had chronic ear infections, her claws were curled right under her feet and into her pads.


The rescue asked, “Will you take her?” and Carrie, as a true dog lover would, said yes.


“She was a mess in a dress when she got to us,” Carrie says of Belle, “but fortunately she had a temperament that wanted to love everything.” It took years to clear up all the physical problems associated with malnutrition. However, with Carrie’s love and patience, soon Belle was in fantastic shape and proved herself to be a sweet and trainable dog.


After three years, Carrie began working on training Belle for competitive obedience – however, two years after that training began, Belle developed glaucoma and lost an eye. So while Carrie entertained ideas of having a one-eyed competition dog, they were at the park one morning in June 2013. Even though dogs at that park were supposed to be on-leash, Carrie saw across the field that a neighborhood dog owner was about to let his dog go – and, to make matters worse, Carrie knew that the other dog was not friendly toward other dogs.


The dog ran straight for Belle. ”He took her out right behind the shoulder blade, sideways. He T-boned her like he’d run a red light,” Carrie says. “He flipped her four times, nose-to-tail. … He circled around her in a great big circle, and before she could move, he hit her again. This time she flipped two times, at which point the owner finally caught up with us and got him on leash. What I ended up with was a massively injured Golden.”


It took a few months and a few different vets to diagnose what actually happened to Belle, but what it boiled down to was a ruptured disc in her spine and a dislocated pelvis.


“Finally I got in to see the orthopedic specialist [Dr. David Lane at Points East West Veterinary Services], and he assessed immediately what was wrong. He started treating her with acupuncture, laser, and chiropractic.” After a few months, Belle was better, but still unsure on her back feet, and just couldn’t seem to get her back legs under her.


Belle - Assisi Loop.JPGBelle’s doctors came to believe that they had gone as far as they could with getting her back. She did remarkably well, but all the problems with her back feet – what’s called a proprioception deficit – was likely there to stay.


But Carrie wasn’t quite ready to give up on Belle’s balance. A friend told her about the Assisi Loop. Carrie asked Dr. Lane to write a prescription, and started with the Loop on Belle immediately.


“I used it initially on her twice a day, every day, and we did that faithfully for three months. I had a recheck with Dr. Lane, and he tested her and he was really quite surprised. He said… she was about 50% better than she was when he saw her three months ago. So I told him about the Loop. He was quite impressed with Belle’s improvement.”


Before starting with the Loop, “we’d gotten to a really good place, but there was still more that we wished we could do,” Carrie says. ”And then we got another 50% improvement in her rear leg proprioception. The only thing that changed was the Assisi Loop.”


Belle’s life is much improved now that she can properly use her back legs. “It’s been a complete life game-changer,” Carrie says. “She’s back to being strong. This morning during our workout, she walked backwards the full length of my training space, which is 40 feet. And she could have done more. She’s so strong on those back legs. She can do backwards left-hand turns around me at heel position, she can do cross-overs where she walks sideways – all those things that she could not possibly do before.


Belle Dancing in the Waves.JPG

“The Loop is an ongoing part of our maintenance. I have to rotate it – because she gets left pecs, right hamstring, across her waist, around her neck, and just behind her shoulder blades. I wait until the massage therapist tells me where she’s a bit tight, then we Loop that for a couple of days, and it’s all loose again. It’s absolutely fantastic.”

Between her sweet spirit, a dedicated owner, and the Assisi Loop, we know that Belle will be playing with her puppy sister for years to come.