COOS BAY, Ore. – Rox Ann Kight can barely mask the pain in her voice when she talks about her Labrador-golden retriever mix Odie.
About three years ago, Odie developed trouble walking and the vet said the only choices were surgery at $750 or euthanasia.
"They thought something was wrong with his leg," Kight said.
She wasn't convinced. As the director of the Bandon-based Assistance Dog Network, she has trained hundreds of dogs as service dogs for the disabled and currently cares for 15 dogs.
On the advice of another dog owner, she took Odie to Dr. Edward Lanway in downtown Coos Bay.
"(Odie) hobbled in here on three legs," Knight said. "Within two sessions with the doctor" Odie could walk and run, she added.
Lanway is not a veterinarian. He's a chiropractor.
Today, Odie serves as a currency-sniffing dog for the Department of Homeland Security at the Miami airport.
"People usually come to me because the veterinarians have given up on them," Lanway said.
Lanway has treated thousands of human patients. Twelve years ago, he began working on dogs and has 15 to 20 regular canine customers.
Often, dog owners end up seeing Lanway themselves.
"I put down the dog's name as the referral on our form," Lanway said.
Assistance Dog Network Trainer Krista Llewellyn brings her dog, Prescott, to see Lanway about every six weeks. Two years ago, Prescott, a golden retriever, could barely walk. In addition to hip dysplasia, he had what vets called "growing pains" the result of rapid early growth, she said.
"He would cry out in the night from the pain," Llewellyn added.
Prescott washed out of the service dog training program at eight months. Vets suggested euthanasia.
After an eight-week program with Lanway Prescott could run and play with other dogs. He now serves as a reading therapy dog at the Bandon Public Library.
"There is such a dramatic change in the dogs both mentally and physically," Kight said.
Lanway works on dogs in the presence of their owners in an examination room in the back of his office. During the exam, he peppers an owner with questions about the dog's habits and lifestyle to get a better sense of a plan of treatment.
Lanway uses the same techniques on dogs that he uses on his human patients, feeling for and treating tension points along a dog's hindquarters, back and spine.
Laws governing chiropractors' work on animals vary by state. Oregon's only stipulation is that chiropractors treating animals must have a prescription from a veterinarian.
Lanway would like to see more regulation. Even thought it is not required by Oregon law, he took additional courses to work on dogs, he explained.
Lanway said some dogs are too old or too far along to respond to treatment.
"No treatment is 100 percent," he added.
But Kight says the $30 charge per visit is worthwhile.
"It's the best preventative medicine," Kight said. "(Lanway) has saved a lot of dogs."