When Jacqui Rosig posted a video about the “changing station” she designed for Jasper her disabled dog, I wanted to know more. It fascinated me how a pet mom developed a device to help paralyzed dogs stand.
The unique changing station keeps Jasper standing upright on his own so Jacqui has both hands free for diaper changes, expressing Jasper’s bladder, physical therapy exercises and more.
Jacqui’s invention reminded me about the other pet owners I’ve interviewed since I started writing about disabled animals in 2013. The one common thread I found in everyone who’s been the caretaker of a paralyzed dog, is how they come away from the experience a changed person.
Most pet owners start their journey unsure and nervous about handling a pet that can’t walk. Then with instructions and practice they blossom into confident caretakers with lifesaving skills.
Jacqui is a bit of an overachiever. She took what she learned from taking care of Jasper and built a medical device that will benefit many dogs.
Jacqui and Jasper’s story
When I spoke with Jacqui in early December, it was nearly Jasper’s 15th birthday. It was also the 8th anniversary of the accident that caused his hind legs to be paralyzed.
Jacqui explained that the Miniature Schnauzer originally belonged to her husband. But soon after she and her son joined the family, Jasper began following his new pet mom around the house.
One day, Jacqui’s son brought a rambunctious puppy to the house to play with Jasper. The two dogs took off running all over the backyard.
“I didn’t see what happened, but I found Jasper on the patio. He was scared and sitting like a person with his hind legs out in front of him.”Jacqui Rosig
Their family veterinarian told Jacqui to take Jasper to the hospital at nearby UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, immediately. She had a 4-hour window for Jasper to have surgery on his spine.
Jacqui and her husband rushed the little Schnauzer to the hospital where he underwent surgery to remove two discs in his spine.
Unfortunately, the damage to Jasper’s spine was permanent. His hind legs were paralyzed.
An ironic twist of fate
Just before Jasper hurt his spine, Jacqui suffered a serious accident to her back as well. Ironically, she had surgery on the same two discs as her dog. Jacqui was still recuperating when Jasper’s injury happened.
The uncanny coincidence turned their recoveries into a spiritual journey.
“The accident meant Jasper and I had to help each other. He taught me to make the most out of what life gives you. He didn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself. I learned to deal with the pain and have patience. After seeing how Jasper handled the ordeal, I knew I could do it too.”
Starting a new life
Jasper’s recovery was long and slow. He started with acupuncture, then physical therapy and water therapy. When the treatments ended, Jacqui continued with at-home PT and massage.
Her efforts paid off and eventually Jasper learned how to Spinal Walk. He uses the muscles in his thighs to move his hind legs. This happens even though he doesn’t have any feeling in that part of his body.
Dogs who learn how to spinal walk, move around by using their reflexes and the memory the muscles retain from before their injury. It’s an amazing testament to the wonders of how a dog’s body works.
Jasper’s ability to stand up, sparked the idea for the changing station.
Dealing with incontinence
Like many paralyzed dogs, Jasper’s accident left him incontinent. Jacqui learned how to manually express his bladder, but a secondary problem developed. Jasper’s body continually dribbled urine. The issue can lead to conditions like urine scald where the urine burns the skin, or it can cause chronic urinary tract infections.
To keep Jasper as dry as possible, Jacqui added frequent diaper changes to her dog’s daily schedule. The routine of trying to keep a dog still while changing a diaper led Jacqui to think about a better technique.
She remembered some of the equipment Jasper used when he was in physical therapy and the idea of a changing station was born.
How the Changing Station works
Here’s a video Jacqui made that demonstrates the functions of the Changing Station.
Jacqui uses her invention for diaper changes, physical therapy, changing bandages and more. In addition, the center sling of the unit is removable and can be attached to a bathtub to keep a dog upright and safe.
You can learn more about the Changing Station at Paralyzed Pup Go or Jasper Scotto on Facebook or on the Paralyzed Pup Go YouTube Channel.
Jasper’s new challenge
At nearly 15 years-old, Jasper is slowing down with age-related health problems. His latest challenge is kidney disease. He recently had a hospital stay for 6 days while he received IV fluids. Jasper also started on prescription dog food for renal problems and antibiotics.
But true to her nature, Jacqui is doing everything she can to make her little buddy’s life better. She is learning about supplements for kidney disease and how to cook homemade kidney support dog food.
Why Preventing Urine Scald In Dogs Is Important
I’d like to know how the changing station device is made. It looks like a human walker with supporting straps stripped down to make the device, Is it something that I can purchase or do I have to make one?
Yes, the changing station is designed from a walker. You can learn more about buying one by contacting Jacqui through the Paralyzed Pup Go Facebook page.