Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orthopedic Adventures

You don't limp for a change of pace. You don't limp to gain attention.  You limp for a reason, especially if you are an active enthusiastic sincere dog, like Lois.  Something hurts, that is the reason for keeping one foot just off the floor while standing.  From a prone position you carefully, awkwardly arrange your feet under you before raising.  When you walk on stairs, you deliberately place each foot.  When you adapt such a regimen, something must hurt.

Lois is a large breed dog. No matter how careful the breeding, there is always the specter of hip dysplasia lurking in big dogs.  Thus, the initial conversation with Lois's vet zoomed into that scary territory.  Naturally, as the gimp was mild, we agreed to treat the matter conservatively.  Little point in signing her up for a hip replacement right away.  First things first and all that. 

Lois began taking Glucosamine Chondroitin.  I take the stuff myself.  Vitamins for the joints, according to Dr. Cutey, who did a knee arthroscopy on my husband, The Handsome One.  (But that is another orthopedic adventure.)

A couple months on the joint vitamins did nothing to improve Lois's hind limb issues.   Back to the vet for Xrays.  Great news!  Lois has incredible hips, practically perfect!  More great news!  Lois's spine is spectacular!  However, there is an oh, oh.  Her kneecap has this little something or other attached to it.  It looks rather like a cookie crumb.  Whatever it is, it isn't supposed to be there, at least not ideally. Other than this crumb and her gimp, there is nothing testing "wrong" with Lois. Off we go to a specialist.  I swallowed hard because this is an Orthopedic Surgeon.  Surgeons tend to do surgery.

Upon seeing Lois, the Orthopedic Veterinarian positively gushed.  Being a Canadian, the doctor explained, she learned to read in the company of an Old English Sheepdog.  Evidentially, the Canadian school system employs OES's as teachers aids.  And why not?  I can't think of a sweeter breed to sit next to a brat, er, child while he practices his Dick, Jane, Spot and Fluff. 

Anyhow, enough digression.  Back to our tale about a tail-less dog named Lois.

Lois has mild muscle atrophy on the left side due to favoring that limb.  Her gait shows a slight lameness of the left rear leg.  When manipulating the left leg,  Dr. Ortho found it less flexible than the right leg.  That crumb on the Xray is a touch of arthritis.  All evidence points to a tear in the cruciate ligament.   Dr. Ortho says it's about a 30% tear.  Surgery isn't needed until it's torn 50% or more.  Alas, most likely more tearing will occur. 

This is where the nice specialist really displayed her surgeon's soul.  She beamed as she explained that there are two surgeries available for repairing a cruciate ligament!  One involves putting in an artificial ligament to replace the torn one.  This surgery sometimes doesn't work because it's hard to firmly attach the faux ligament to the bone!  It often becames unattached, you see.  This surgery, therefore, is best for toy dogs who lead sedate, sedentary lives.  Then there's another surgery that "puts fly ball champions back in competition".  This surgery involves cutting the bone to change the angle of the knee joint which creates a newer stronger leg!  Cutting the bone.  Attaching a metal plate.  Screwing the metal plate into the bone.

But we don't need to talk about that anymore.  In fact, I would very much like to never talk about it again.

Meanwhile, we can hope for some healing of the ligament with rest.  Poor Lois.  No joyful running.  No chasing her friend Mabel around the yard.  No jumping to catch a ball.  She may walk on the leash.  At least there is that.  For one month, we keep Lois on the sidelines.  To heal.  Still, she may heel.  Oh please, may she heal.


  1. We'll keep pulling for her! She looks like a beauty!

  2. Thanks! Yes, she is a beauty in every way!!

  3. Yes don't talk about surgery, besides it sounds expensive no matter how wonderful and sweet that surgeon might happen to be! Lois might benefit from those joint pain supplements that have been known to work miracles. Let's hope.