Last week former Torrance City Council Member, Maureen O’Donnell relayed an amazing story to me about Snoopy, the dog she was fostering. To tell you the truth, it was a story that seemed so amazing I wondered how it could be true. That led me to investigate the entire sage of this little full-blooded Beagle named Snoopy.
On Thursday, February 5th, Maureen visited the Torrance Animal Control Office to pick up a duplicate license for her Yorkie and while she was in the office she discovered a dog rescued by Animal Control Officer Doris Cattouse. The dog was dragging his paralyzed legs behind him as he scooted along the floor in the office. Maureen told me, “The Good Samaritan saw him being abandoned by a couple with two children and as I understand it, the Good Samaritan picked him up, brought him home and called Torrance Animal Control, and as required by law, Officer Cattouse took him to an emergency vet. The veterinarian was under the opinion that the situation was hopeless and suggested euthanizing him. Officer Cattouse said no, and brought him back to the office.” Maureen went on to tell me that by Monday, no rescue group had come forward for the dog that was suffering from Intervertebral Disc Disease.
Now, Maureen had had a disc problem herself and opted for physical therapy over surgery and it worked for her. That made her think. It was then that Maureen offered to make an appointment with a specialist to examine the dog. On February 10th, Animal Control, along with the dog, met Maureen at the specialist’s office. This doctor also concluded that the dog’s condition was hopeless and there was only a 30 percent chance of recovery, even with surgery. So Maureen asked about physical therapy but the doctor still said – only a 30 percent chance of success was expected.
It was then that Maureen said, “I’ll take the chance,” and promptly decided to take ‘Snoopy’ as she named him, to Dr. Christine Pott, who suggested acupuncture might be helpful. So Snoopy began acupuncture treatments with Dr. Jin Choi. Really? Acupuncture for a dog? I had never heard about acupuncture for animals and was completely fascinated. Was I not up to date with my ‘Dog Whisperer’ episodes?
Maureen also explained that on the suggestion from a technician at the emergency vet to Officer Cattouse, that Jean Brusavich from Tranquil Pet, specializing in swim therapy, also might help Snoopy. Swim therapy? This is when I really got interested in the story. I had never heard about swim therapy for dogs either. “So, we went to see Dr. Pott on the 11th, he has his first acupuncture on [February] the 15th, and his first Swimming on the 18th,” said Maureen.
I was very interested in the swimming therapy and met Maureen last Friday for one of Snoopy’s sessions. When I first saw Snoopy, I was surprised he was walking, jumping, and thoroughly excited to get into the water. Somehow, I thought that Snoopy would still be struggling to walk, but I saw a very happy pup. We met Jean Brusavich, his therapist, at the pool, who began by securing a little yellow life preserver on Snoopy.
Jean Brusavich has been working with animals for about ten years and practicing in Torrance for about a year and a half [sic: 3 years] with her business, Tranquil Pet. Her interest in water therapy for dogs began when her own 12 year old dog’s back legs didn’t rebound from surgery as she’d hoped. It was then she investigated swim therapy for her dog. The treatment was a success and her love of the field of water therapy grew, and she began helping friends with their pets. “I love my clients and my clients are your pets,” said Jean, beaming.
It was very obvious that this little thirteen pound Beagle couldn’t wait to get into the 87 degree water where he eagerly began moving all four legs and I watched him swim like a fish and his hind legs, which had been dragging along when Maureen began fostering, were not only moving, they were acting like propellers under the water. Snoopy, swimming back and forth in the pool, was guided along by Jean. After a few laps, Snoopy was hoisted on a platform, or landing, where he rested between laps. Jean monitored Snoopy constantly, noting his heart rate and demeanor, and gently massaged his legs during the treatment. The entire session took about fifteen minutes. “We started out the first time, his back legs were just like this [useless]. This is also like cardio work – and we would do about five minutes and then rest him in between. And he is doing ten laps before he rests [now] …now three months into this you can see – he is walking,” said Jean. She also told me that in the beginning Snoopy wasn’t wagging his tail at all. Now he wags his tail all the time and is getting feisty.
Maureen said, “The first two times, his back legs didn’t move at all and we were very concerned, but by the third time he moved a little bit, the fourth time more, and he has continued to make progress. Now he swims like a champ.” This is nothing short of miraculous. Maureen shared with me that “He could barely lift his head when I got him. I was massaging him every 4 hours – I was very sleep=deprived for the first three weeks. Twice a week water therapy – once a week acupuncture. Monday, acupuncture, Wednesday/Friday swimming therapy. Everything else in my life was put on hold – housecleaning – everything.”
After watching Snoopy swim, I knew I had to accompany him to his acupuncture appointment the following week, at the Lomita Pet Hospital. Dr. Jin Choi, was usually treats Snoopy, was out of the office so Dr. Sandra Kim did the honors on this particular Monday. Snoopy seemed as calm as he had been when I joined him for his water therapy. This adorable Beagle seemed to know he is being well cared for by Maureen. Snoopy was called into the operatory. After he was weighted, he sat still as the muzzle was put on, and then Dr. Kim began inserting the needles. Snoopy did look toward his back once or twice, but he was calm. After all the needles were inserted, the muzzle came off and Maureen coaxed Snoopy to lie down and rest. He did –for 20 minutes. Then the needles were removed. After the treatment, Snoopy was taken to the back where he would be ‘chipped’. Seems like Snoopy is living his days at the ‘spa’!
Maureen began fostering Snoopy on the 10th of February and by the 10th of March, he was walking a little bit and was able to stand, go to the food bowl, and follow her dogs out the door to the outside. “I was amazed when I saw that,” added Maureen. The first time Maureen saw Snoopy stand was at the food bowl. She told me she put his food bowl on top of a brick so he wouldn’t have to ben his head down so far. Once day Maureen was holding him at the food bowl and he suddenly pulled his feet up – but then he would fall, spreading his legs out like he was doing the splits, and she would help him back up. As the days went on, Snoopy started pulling himself up all by himself. And because in the beginning, little Snoopy didn’t want to eat and could barely lift his head, Maureen also massaged his neck, in addition to massaging his back, and working his hind legs. In fact, when she first took Snoopy, she had to feed him with a large serving spoon because he couldn’t eat by himself at the food bowl. “My dogs encouraged him. They were very interested and they could see he had special needs. They were very nice to him. He gets along with them, and they like him. My Yorkie in particular likes to play with him,” added Maureen. Now he eats breakfast and dinner with her other pets. This is truly a mission of mercy by Maureen.
In the beginning, when Maureen first brought Snoopy home, she invested in a pet stroller so he could go out along with her other dogs on walks, but by the third week he didn’t need it because he began walking with her other dogs as his endurance, stamina, and strength improved. “He’s one of the dogs now,” said Maureen.
About now you might wonder how much all this is costing Maureen? A lot. She is taking care of the expenses out of her own pocket. [Jean has donated her swim time], but if you can help Maureen while she rehabilitates Snoopy, please go to www.GoFunMe.com/Snoopy,Abandoned Beagle, and donate [every $5.00 adds up!].* [You can also donate to Snoopy's fund on Jean's website: ]
I asked Maureen about Snoopy’s upcoming adoption. She told me it would be great for Snoopy to go to a family who already has a dog, as Snoopy is very social, like all Beagles. He also will need tender care because of his back. Hang on Snoopy, hang on.
There are so many people involved with the rehabilitation of this very special dog – named Snoopy. Who was the Good Samaritan who initially called Torrance Animal Control? We may never know. But I do know that Maureen O’Donnell is a saint for stepping in when she was needed into the life of a little dog she named Snoopy.
For a print of Torrance Tribune article, April 30, 2015, open here
Jean Brusavich, Tranquil Pet
Swim sessions held at: Camp Run-A-Mutt
945 W. 190th Street, Gardena, 90248