Monday, August 20, 2012

The News

I’ve been waiting to make this post for a couple reasons.
  1. I have been feeling so many emotions that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write them all down.  Also, if history has taught me anything, it’s that I should try to take time to digest all the information that I have rather than immediately expressing my emotions (and trust me, I have a lot of them!)
  2.  I guess part of me was hoping that it would just go away.  Writing this post makes it all real.  And I wish it weren’t.

I’m making this sound incredibly bleak, and it isn’t that bad.  So instead of starting this post with the negatives, I’ll start with the positives.
  • Lexi is healthy.  She does not have cancer.  She does not have any other disease that will shorten her life.
  •  Lexi is happy.  My girl is happy being with us every day; whether she’s playing fetch or sitting on our laps, she is happy.
  •  I have had the opportunity to learn so much from her, that I know no matter where life takes us, she has so much more to teach me.
  •  I love Lexi no matter what, and she loves me.

Now for the ONE negative.
  • The vet walked back into the room to speak to me and her first words were “How much do you like doing agility with this dog?”  I broke into tears. 

I know, I know, that doesn’t sound so bad—she’s just hurt.  But it was really upsetting for me to hear for a variety of reasons.  But I guess I should get to emotions later.  Here are the facts.

Lexi has a luxating patella on both knees.  We already knew that!  But, this vet seemed to think it was the cause of the problems.  She took x-rays, and stated that her leg looks perfect (no bowing to compensate, no abnormalities, etc…) “except for when it doesn’t” as she said.  Basically, when it pops out, it’s all wrong.  But when it’s in, no problems.

Unfortunately for Lexi, her patellas luxate both ways.  Apparently it’s very abnormal for the patella to be able to be luxated both medially and laterally (in and out) and that makes surgery a lot more complicated.  I guess when they do surgery they build up one side to make it so that the patellar tendon does not want to move one way, and therefore just stays in place.  So the surgery is complicated, and is more of an “art” as described by the vet (ack! Scary!)

And now to the emotion part of the post.  We don’t know how serious it is.  The vet suspects that the other vets that saw her weren’t able to luxate it as much because Lexi was so tense.  She sedated her for a second evaluation, and still told me it felt like a Grade I.  Grade I’s typically aren’t corrected by surgery because they manifest infrequently.  (Side note:  Vet wrote “Grade II/IV” on the take home sheet, which I find confusing). 

But Lexi is an agility dog.  She may never be able to do agility again.  I know it’s selfish of me, but it absolutely broke my heart.  A week removed from the news I can talk about it without crying (ridiculous, I know), because I know that Lexi loves agility because she loves me.  She is a happy dog without agility.  But I’m sad.  And I feel like a bad person for feeling upset about her not being able to compete ever again.

The vet sent us home armed with some knowledge and a great deal of sadness.  But our homework is to observe her.  Let her be herself (craziness and all!) How often does it luxate?  What causes it?  We were to take detailed notes of any incidents.  The frequency of the incidents would help us to make a decision regarding treatment (surgery?)  But I couldn’t help but think that I don’t know what I want to do.

Jonathan and I decided that if Lexi wasn’t able to be herself—crazy, fun-loving, nothing-at-a-walk Lexi, then we would get the surgery.  I just couldn’t bear to keep her quiet and crated for her whole life.  But what if the issue only crops up when doing agility?  Am I so selfish as to put my dog under the knife, a painful surgery, through several months of rest and serious rehabilitation just for a hobby of mine?  The answer is I don’t think I would be able to.  But it breaks my heart.  And again, I feel awful about it.

So what have we observed over the past week?  She’s done a lot.  And I mean a lot.  She still does nothing at a walk.  We’ve been playing fetch with her (that includes some turns, some somersaults), letting her chase the cat and zoom around the house (which includes stopping and turning on a dime, leaping off of furniture, jumping on the cat) and do whatever she wants.  We even went hiking this weekend!  (Don’t worry—I carried her most of the time, and got a lot of grief for it from strangers.  But there were a lot of steps!)  We saw NOTHING.  Until today.  I was taking Bentley out in the front yard and Lexi ran out (naughty girl).  She went into the yard to find a place to go to the bathroom.  She was not sprinting, but she was running.  And I noticed that she was sort of skipping, and there was a definite hitch in her step.  She went to the bathroom and I called her back in.  She ran (faster than when she ran out) and the limp was gone.  She just finished tearing around the house with the cat.  I can’t figure it out.

So, we don’t really have any answers or a solution.  We have an appointment at TOPS Rehabilitation facility for September.  I am really looking forward to what they have to say, and am just trying to take everything one day at a time.


  1. Some things just dont make sense. Im not a vet, but Ive never heard of building up one side to fix luxating petellas. They usually deepen the grove that the knee cap is suppose to slide in. Then the tack down the ligiment with pins. Also depending on how much its sliding out, you may want to fix it. The more it slides in and out, the more it wears out the cartilege and then you will get bone to bone contact. Which will cause pain and then arthritis. I will be interested in hearing what TOPS had to say. Have you watched videos on youtube with dogs with luxating petellas? Does it look like that. I know I told you about my friend who when to UT with their dog. But I have another friend who was told there dog had a tone ACL ( I cant remember what that tendon is called in dogs). She paid for the dog to have knee surgery. The dog was still having problems limping. She went to someone else. They thought maybe the repair had faild and wanted to do surgery and go in and look. When the vet got in there. The ACL was never torn and no repair had been done. They never did fix the limp as far as I know. Last I heard they were thinking iliopoas injury. So dont get to upset yet. I find it hard to believe she has been running for 3 years without luxating her petella and now its happening all the time. Weird.
    You are allowed to be sad. I was really sad when Guiness got hurt. He was never fixed , and I spent thousands of dollars trying to fix him. I should have called it quits earlier. And it wasnt so he could run agility. I just wanted him not to limp.

  2. So sorry to hear all of this Ashley. But I like the positive things you listed first! I know that Ricky and my goals in agility were different than yours with Lexi but it is a relief not to compete in many ways. We still have so much fun and we still have the bond agility helped to create. And I don't worry every second of every day if Ricky will hurt himself. Hang in there. It will be interesting to hear what they say at TOPS.

    Did you go to Hocking Hills? We love it there! :)

  3. Ashley - I am so sorry to hear about Lexi's diagnosis. I can only imagine what an emotional roller coaster you are on right now. Never apologize for how you are feeling because that is part of the process. But, make sure you get a 2nd opinion (or a 3rd, 4th) in order to do what's best for Lexi. She is such a sweet and talented girl and I am confident that you will make the best decision for you both. I am sending lots of prayers and hugs up to you guys in the Buckeye state.

  4. Hi Ashley, I agreed to Diana and Chris. I know it's frustrating don't know what to do. You are emotion because you love her. It's hard to restrict an active dog. I could not restrict Sing, I just have to do sensible play and walk with him because I love him and I would not want him to feel left out staying at home. Hopefully you will have some good news and clear info in a few weeks time.

  5. Oh man, how disappointing. When watching the olympics this year, I often though... "One injury and they could be done." I guess it is no different for dogs.

    Glad to hear you're going to TOPS. Fingers crossed that they can give you some hope.