It was 2003 and Courtney Watson, only 18 years old at the time, had just moved to Chicago to attend art school.Growing up in a family filled with animals she knew that she wanted pets of her own and being alone in a big city felt like the right time to bring one into her life. Not sure what to expect when she visited the local rescue, Courtney quickly noticed a little fella about 3 years old just rescued from the streets of Chicago. Still showing signs of his difficult street life with garbage and wire stuck in his fur and pellets lodged under his skin from a BB gun, they locked eyes and Courtney knew instantly that he was the one. She would name him John, they were the perfect match.
As most often happens, our dogs rescue us as much as we rescue them and John was no exception. Described as a clumsy, outgoing, goofball, John's energy and love for Courtney kept her active and always laughing. Constantly underfoot and a bundle of fun, John lives to love, making life in a new city feel like home.
John and Courtney eventually moved to Michigan where her love of animals inspired her to attend Michigan State University to become a Vet Technician. When she graduated in 2010 John was diagnosed with Cancer. Being a Vet Tech may have saved John's life because as many students do, Courtney would practice many of the techniques she'd learn on her own pet. While Courtney was expressing John's anal glands she noticed a very small lump which turned out to be malignant. The tumor was removed and John went through chemotherapy and thanks to the early detection, was able to make a full recovery. The disease and treatments however took its toll on his body and seemed to age him, but nothing could diminish his spirit.
Being a Vet Tech has helped her tremendously in being able to read the signals and keep John happy. As most pet parents know, the more we care for our dogs, the closer we become and over the years John has shown Courtney the joys of having a senior dog in her life. In fact she would like to teach her daughter Sonora (1 yrs) about helping older dogs and while she expects to be asked for a puppy, will do her best to convince Sonora that an 18 year old dog with three legs and one eye is way better.
Now 15, John still has his feisty energy and desire to never leave his family's side, but the challenges of age have become evident. In addition to typical signs of vision and hearing loss John has also been struggling with spinal issues. Over time John has developed rear weakness which has been significantly impacting his mobility and overall stability causing him to slip and fall on the hardwood floors.
Courtney could hear him hitting the floor hard and knew he was at serious risk of injuring his hip because it was taking the brunt of the impact when he fell. His lack of stability combined with his overwhelming desire to be around people meant that his falling was happening over and over again. The more he fell the more frantic he would become especially since he was unable to get himself back up. Courtney was devastated and began to fear that his quality of life was becoming so poor that she may need to make the hardest decision of her life and say good bye.
At first Courtney tried John with a wheelchair, but she could see that he was never comfortable using it and his front legs, which needed to propel him, would slip making it difficult to use effectively. Then she tried dog shoes, but those also did not work well for him so she decided to do more research online to find a better solution for John and came across Grippers dog socks.
"After reading the reviews and watching the videos I was hopeful that this was a product that would actually work for John and thank goodness it did."
John, previously unable to take even a few steps across the hardwood, is now able to walk without fear of falling and there's even a skip to his step reminiscent of his younger years. The transformation is undeniable and when you see his struggle before and then his triumph after, you will not be able to stop yourself from cheering, "go John go!"
In addition to making a significant difference in managing severe mobility problems in senior dogs, Courtney also sees value in using Grippers as a preventative tool.
"If those of us in the veterinary field could recommend these earlier, when we first start seeing mobility problems in dogs, they could help to keep dogs moving which would benefit their joints and help reduce muscle loss. Seeing how well John is able to walk using his Grippers makes me think of how much stronger his body would be if I had known about these earlier."
Courtney's family has grown and the love for John and John's love for his family is stronger than ever. Courtney's husband Da Priest, their daughter Sonora and their four-legged family, past and present, has filled John's life with more than he could ever have imagined, making his early days on the streets of Chicago a distant memory. Thanks to the love and persistence of his mom to find a way to improve the quality of his life and never give up, John has his mobility back, he has a life worth living and a family worth crossing those hardwood floors for each and every day.
"Thank you for doing everything that you do and for making such a great product, it's a lifesaver in this household."