************ Sunday, March 5, 2017 ************

Shih Tzu CoCo Belle Bleu is a “comfort animal;” her mistress, Wendi, suffers from

CoCo Pup

Multiple Sclerosis, and CoCo has been a large part of her comfort and treatment.  Shihtzumania became interested in this story because, in similar circumstances, so many others would have taken the more economical option to put the animal down – not so, Wendi and her husband.  They’re not wealthy, they just care.

Both CoCo and her sister were in training to become certified therapy dogs until CoCo had an injury last summer, which sidetracked those plans. Her sister, MAGGIE MOO, has become increasingly depressed without her daily play sessions with CoCo.  Here’s Wendi’s account of the situation, before the surgery:

“Last summer, just before her fifth birthday, CoCoBelleBleu, our Shih Tzu , was injured. She had torn both her CCLs (like ACLs in humans).  That instigated back spasms and she could barely walk, often crying just when she shifted positions while resting. After months of rehabilitative physical therapy, at our local “TOPS Rehab,” CoCo made much improvement. Her back was no longer in spasm and her left knee became more stable, so both knees were weight-bearing. She was again able to walk for short distances, but still unable to play with her sister. She continued to favor her right knee, though, and cried in pain upon rising – so the inevitable was upon us….

CoCo’s right knee requires surgical repair of her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). 
Dr.Robbins, at “Veterinary Specialty Center,” will be performing the surgical repair on Monday Feb. 27th. The estimate for the procedure is $2,614 – $2,914 and is required to be paid in full on the morning of surgery. 

 This is not something you budget for, but it must be done.  I have been selling items on amazon and eBay, and on facebook garage sales and craigslist.  We even started a “GoFundMe” page 🙁 ).

(Any monies raised above what is required for CoCo’s care will be donated to TOPs rehab to help others struggling to pay for their furbabies treatments. The staff there is very much aware of their clienteles’ circumstances and I trust they will share the funds wisely)

 All this is time consuming – time taken away from me caring for my CoCo – which she will require when she needs round-the- clock care following surgery for approximately 1-2 weeks.
Following the surgery, she will be receiving Rehabilitative Physical Therapy & Pain Management again at TOPS Rehab. The estimate for those services are $1,712 (but could be as low as $1,549 if paid in advance).  More details on 
 CoCo’s facebook page:

Nobody likes the bath tub – especially at the therapists 🙁

her pain medication and anti-inflammatory medication will run almost $90 every 2 weeks. (You can see invoices for those costs as well on her previous posts on her GoFundMe page). Although I am unclear exactly what her pain medication regimen will be post-op.”


POST – OP REPORT, February 28:


Ready for a trip – she crawled into a vintage suitcase

“I was a nervous wreck, unable to sleep last night and just fearful that I am doing the best I can for my furbaby. But now that I have spoken to the surgeon I feel much better. Dr. Robbins of Veterinary Specialty Clinic called me after he completed her surgery. He said he was able to secure/stabilize her knee with nylon sutures (this is preferred for small dogs as opposed to using metal crimps like those for larger breeds). He confirmed that one of her ligaments was torn almost all the way through while the other ligament was so stretched out it was basically useless. In addition her meniscus also had a slight tear, which should heal now that the knee is stabilized.

We were able to pick CoCo up and bring her home Tuesday night from the surgical center. Surgery went well. She is not weight-bearing on the right leg, but that is to be expected. She is being aided by humans with a sling to help her walk during her potty breaks. She does not like the “cone of shame,” and has been tossing her head around at times in an attempt to dislodge it. She is on pain killers and anti- inflammatory plus an ice pack for the next 3 days, 3 times per day.

Back home, at last – “Damn” collar, and all!

Here are some photos from the hospital in her crate during post op, as well as the next morning resting in her own bed being protected by her big sister. Maggie Moo is wearing her thunder shirt because we had a horrible storm last night as we were out picking up CoCo, and then all through the night. It has passed for now thank goodness. I’m not sure I can handle an anxiety-ridden dog along with a post-op dog at the same time.

CoCo has her first appointment Friday with TOPs Rehab for red laser therapy treatment. I will try to get a new photo of that treatment being performed.

CoCo has had the following therapies: Hako Pain (an electrical current similar to a TENs machine) both as

CoCo, waiting for her first post-op therapy session, with her favorite toy, “Monkey”
…and waiting, and waiting…

direct leads attached to her back as well in the Hako therapy pool – where the electrical current runs throughout the water. That therapy helped immensely in alleviating her back spasms.

In her “Doggles,” for laser light therapy

She has also had, and will continue starting this Friday with Red Laser Light Therapy. That treatment requires everyone to wear protective eye glass – thus the photos of her in “doggles”

Once her incision is healed she will again work out in the hydro treadmill. This she had been doing prior to her surgery which helped maintain her muscle tone. Otherwise one runs the risk of the bad leg atrophying. Post surgery it is for rehab.


(In case you, too, need financial assistance):


CoCo, with her favorite stuffed toys
CoCo with her favorite baby – a stuffed sloth from the Croods movie

During my search for veterinary financial assistance, I discovered that there are many wonderful organizations out there who help with emergency situations, as well as for low income situations. Neither of which applied to out particular situation. There are also funds available to help for service animals BUT CoCo had not completed her training and is not yet a certified therapy dog so she does not qualify. I also discovered that many other organizations have been shuttered – unable to raise the funds necessary to maintain operations. What organizations remain are so thinly stretched that they have very few assistance dollars to share. I also discovered Pet Insurance; a friend of our family now sells those policies. I did not have insurance for my girls in place at the time of CoCo’s injury, and at this time it is a moot point for CoCo.

As in all areas of the economy, it appears this is one more area where the middle class is feeling the pinch. We are too “rich” for assistance, and yet

She had an immediate attachment to Wendi’s fuzzy pink slippers

not wealthy enough to afford unexpected costly bumps in the road. Both my husband and I feel that dogs/cats are not merely pets but a precious soul for whose care we are responsible. They are no different in their inability to care for themselves than is a human toddler. They are not possessions, but members of the family. 

Thank You for taking an interest in our CoCo Belle Bleu.  Face Kisses & Cuddles from CoCo and Maggie; Blessings to you from our family.”

CoCo & Maggie, in happier times


Showing her Diva self – sitting on the couch during Obedience Class – but not just the couch but on the pillow on the couch 🙂








UPDATE, 1/15/2018:

“Hello Jim, Thank you for the follow up. The last several months have been whirlwind of activity for our family. My husband was given a job transfer, we attended my sisters wedding in FL, we sold our house in IL and have relocated to Lexington KY. We are are in temporary housing looking for a new home currently. CoCo has been a super trooper through all the chaos, unlike her sister Maggie who is quite anxious about all the changes.

CoCo will meet her new Vet Specialists on Wednesday and we hope since he is a friend of CoCo’s specialist in IL we will feel just as cared for as we did by Veterinary Specialty Center in IL. Prior to Thanksgiving CoCo was not doing well and we thought we were going to have to make “that” decision. With some additional medications she seems to be more comfortable.

She has become permanently disabled and requires assistance with the use of a sling for her potty breaks. All of her extensive physical therapy has turned out to be waste of time and money. The Cushings has made her ligaments so lax that her ankles and hips do not stay in proper alignment.

We carry her everywhere with us. She sleeps on my chest primarily. My once independent, aloof and mischievous pup has become a super-snugly cuddle bug dependent on us for everything. Although I miss the free spirited pup – I have fallen in love all over again with the pup she is now…”