Spinal cord injury sidelines Craig Hospital therapy dog

KUSA – Sage, a therapy dog, has always had a knack for bringing joy to patients rehabilitating from spinal cord injuries at Craig Hospital.

Sadly, the 6-year-old Doberman may have been born with a connection to those patients.

Veterinarians just discovered he is battling a spinal cord compression of his own – which means his next visit to a hospital will not be to comfort people, it will be for a surgery of his own.

Sage has worked with patients at Craig Hospital for three years. He has been visiting people at Littleton Care and Rehabilitation since he was certified as a therapy dog at 1-year-old.

As a therapy dog, he provides comfort and hope to patients who are often recovering from the very same thing he is now battling.

Veterinarians at the Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital say Sage was likely born with this problem in his spine and neck.

His owner is local police officer Jane Saunders. Saunders says Sage started having problems walking and getting around earlier this week. He has always been a very active dog and loves to play with other canines, she said.

An MRI taken Thursday shows Sage has a spinal cord compression on his mid neck, according to Saunders. She says he also has a mild herniated disc which is causing inflammation and nerve pain.

“He’s a very special dog,” Saunders said. “I can’t believe this. This is, well, he works with these people and now he has the same issues.”

Craig Hospital has numerous therapy dogs who come in with their handlers and owners to visit with patients recovering from neurological damage as a result of spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

Veterinarians believe Sage likely aggravated his condition while playing with another dog recently. To manage his pain and discomfort, he is on steroids and some other medications.

The long term solution is surgery – which could cost upwards of $8,000.

Saunders has set up an online donation site if you would like to help

She says she just wants to get Sage better so he can continue bringing joy to rehabilitating spinal-cord injury patients.

Kelly Sommariva, KUSA

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