Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Good Feeling

Just a quick post to say that all is well.  We have noticed in Lexi's rehab that her rear left is considerably weaker.  It's odd because at the vet's she had no discrepancy in muscle tone between legs, but we're definitely seeing her struggle more when the emphasis is on her left rear leg.  Definitely something to work on and keep an eye on.

Lexi really seems to be getting the hang of the cavaletti.  She is better now than she is in this video, but you can see her adjust her pacing to correct striding at the beginning and doesn't switch back much.

And then...the best news of all, we went out and did a few minutes of agility.  Not much, and no bars (I did leave the tire up, but she only jumped it like 4 times, and that can't be any worse than her jumping on and off the bed!), but it was so much fun.  I'm so happy that she can get out there and do it.  We let Bentley go first, and she was whining and crying and groaning she was so jealous (which is why there is no video of Bentley...I was trying to hang out to wild woman!)

It's also fun to see that she certainly hasn't lost her love for the game!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lexi's Rehab, In Pictures

I love this picture!  Look how happy Lexi is!

I like this shot because you can see how high she is forced to raise her legs--look at the bend in her knee!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chiro Info

Today was Lexi's first regularly scheduled chiro appointment.  For the next month she'll be going once a week so we can keep track of how she's doing.

It was great because the vet chiro. agreed with everything that TOPS had told us.  The vet said that Lexi did need adjusting, especially her TMJ.  She did mention, however, that she felt that Lexi's issue was possibly more of an issue with the cartilage (maybe her meniscus) rather than the tendons and ligaments in her knee.

She told us that she felt that structurally Lexi was around 90% of where she should be, but that muscularly she is around 60% of where she (as a canine athlete) should be.  I figure that's a result of all of her crate rest (over a month total a month or so ago) and her limited exercise until a couple weeks ago.  The vet reinforced the importance of not hurrying her back to full agility, but that we should take it slowly to be sure she is back fully healthy.  If not, we could see issues pop up especially as we get her to full jump height or ask her for something stressful like the a-frame.

Her timeline pretty much coincides with what we had in mind.  She felt that 20 minute walks right now are acceptable, building up as she grows stronger.  She also said that 5 minutes or so of agility per day was okay, and a good way to keep her working without her over-exerting herself.  She recommended about 6 weeks of gradual increase before getting her back to a full agility schedule.  This is exactly what we were planning--so that's great news that we have the right plan in mind.

Oh, she did add another supplement to Lexi's arsenal.  So Lexi now gets the following:

She definitely is way healthier than I am!

Good Boy

Remember when I was worried about leaving Bentley with my parents?  I shouldn't have been...he was in heaven!  He couldn't hear any barking dogs, so got to do one of his favorite things--get on the furniture and nap! :) 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Diagnosis: The Long Version

Here are Lexi's notes from our appointment at TOPS.  I am only going to post (somewhat) briefly about our experience because I honestly probably won't explain it right, and you can read the summary on the above documents.

Dr. Jurek was great.  She took her time with Lexi because Lexi was quite nervous.  Dr. Jurek just sat on the floor and talked quietly to her.  She went through each and every of Lexi's muscles and joints to determine if anything seemed out of place, misaligned, odd, or off balance.

The first thing she noted was that she did feel Lexi's luxating patellas, but that it was very minor.  She diagnosed them as a Grade 1, and nothing to really worry about other than doing our best to keep her in shape and strengthen the muscles around her knees.  She did feel that it was odd that we saw the limp the way we did, and she felt that it may have been the patellas manifesting in an odd way, or it could have been something else.  She felt no soreness or pain indicators during the exam.

The other thing of importance that she noted is Lexi's misaligned jaw.  We have always known that she has an underbite, and I guess we knew her jaw was misaligned (thanks to my husband, the dentist!) but never thought much of it.   Dr. Jurek explained that she believes Lexi has slight TMD (temperomandibular disorder) because of this.  That means that the disparity in development in both sides of her TMJ (jaw joints) caused issues with her bite and threw off her musculoskeletal balance.  

On the chiropractic exam she did confirm that one side of Lexi's jaw and neck were aligned differently, in an effort to make up for the imbalance in her mouth.  This can affect the entire body as the neck and spine attempt to make up for the imbalance.

Dr. Jurek also did a gait analysis which I thought was very interesting. I  had never really thought about Lexi's gait before (or knew the different kinds) but we learned that Lexi often paces.  Pacing means that the dog's 2 legs on the same side are moving in the same direction.  This is not what you want, as it does not improve the dog's balance or coordination.

We then moved to the therapy room to learn some exercises and tricks to "resolve impaired segmental spinal mobility so that Lexi's body is more balanced; improve strength in the quadriceps to minimize patella laxity; prevent further injury for continued competition in agility as well as maintaining good overall musculoskeletal health in general".

Our routine includes the following:

1.  Cookie Stretches (5 stretches, 7 days per week).  The dog stretches up, down, left and right (in various places and ways) and holds for about 3 seconds each.

2.  Alternate Snoopies (5 times per week).  Dog balances their weight on opposite legs (meaning we hold one front and one back--on opposite sides--and Lexi balances on 2 feet).   This strengthens the paraspinal muscles and stabilizes the thorax.  It also assists in strengthening hip and shoulder stabilizers.

3.  Cavaletti Poles (5 times per week).  This teaches the dog to become aware of where their feet are in space, to teach them to pick their feet up higher and for paraspinal muscle strengthening.  And in Lexi's case, it will encourage her to trot vs. pace.

4.  Side Stepping (5 times per week).  Gently nudge the dog so that your dog is encourage to step sideways.  

5.  Crawling (3-4 days per week).  This encourages shoulder, elbow, carpus, hip, stifle and hock flexion as well as strengthens forelimb and hind limb muscles.  
6.  Ball Work (2-3 days per week).  Stand, sit, and down on the donut ball and the peanut ball along with transitions between the two.  A slight bend in the knee when standing is preferred.

I'm sure I'll be posting a lot more about Lexi's rehab in the days to come.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blast from the Past

Diana's Facebook post inspired me to post some fun video of the dogs playing.  It's sad because they don't get to play like this outside anymore since our neighbor's dogs are always outside.

But here's a cute and fun blast from the past!

Lexi's 14 weeks, Bentley's 2 1/2 (so long ago!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lexi's Diagnosis: A Preview

You know me, I plan on doing a lengthy write up of our experience at TOPS.  It will likely take awhile, so I'm sharing a preview here...

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I'm anxious--not the dogs!

The past few weeks at work have been crazy.  We are preparing for the holiday season (yes, already) and that means things move at light speed.  It's what makes my job interesting, but it also makes it tiring and stressful.

On the bright side of things, I am interviewing today for my job (I'm a contractor, so I hope to get hired on by the company so I can make more money and get benefits!)  But, that also means more stress.  It's odd to think about interviewing with people that I already work with!

And then, of course, we leave tomorrow morning for Chicago for Lexi's appointment.  I've been looking forward to this day, but I'm also nervous.  If I had to guess, I would say that the vet likely won't recommend surgery.  We've gone what...10 weeks with no symptoms?  I can't imagine a vet recommending surgery on a dog that is asymptomatic.  But, I really don't know what to expect.  There's even a chance that they give us a completely different diagnosis (Jonathan reminded me last night that we took Lexi to 4 vets--2 said that her luxating patellas were so minor that they'd never be an issue, 1 said he couldn't even get them to luxate, and then the last said they were causing the problem but she couldn't tell to what degree).

I'm also a bit worried about leaving Bentley home.  We decided it would be easier to just take one dog, and now that my mom lives in town, it was easier to drop him off with her.  I know he'll do fine, but we almost always take the dogs with us when we go out of town.  Honestly, I think he'll really enjoy it.  He can be a couch potato (there are no barking dogs at their house!) and relax.

I've been taking Lexi out to do a few minutes of agility in the evenings.  Nothing hard, and no jump bars to see how she'd do.  I don't want to re-injure her, but I did want to test her out and see if we noticed any limping.  I want to be sure to present all the facts to the vet. 

You tell me how you think she did.... *smiles*

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Updated Thinking

At our trial the other weekend we were able to speak to a few people about Lexi's issue.  We've also had time to hear stories and thoughts from our family, friends, trainers, etc...about Lexi's condition.

I have truly appreciated all the support, anecdotes and information that people have shared.  I've also been a little overwhelmed.  Every story, every incident, and every dog is different.  I'm a black or white kind of girl and I wish it were that easy.  But hearing everyone's stories only makes me realize how unique each and every situation is.

I've heard encouraging stories about dogs doing serious rehab, building muscles by doing balance ball work, underwater treadmill, rear-end strength exercises, etc...and never needing surgery.

I've heard encouraging stories of successful surgeries where dogs were back to their usual selves (including agility) in six months to a year's time.

I've even heard stories of dogs that have retired and become "just companions" (I put that in quotes because I know what an important job that really is!) and are perfectly happy.

But I just don't know where we fall.

I've also worried myself sick over what will be best for Lexi.  She is very sensitive, and I don't want her to ever associate agility, fetching, running, or being enthusiastic with pain.  I don't ever want her to have to hesitate to do something that she wants to do.  I've, unfortunately, seen a dog or two who have run injured (in pain, or compensating for injury) and have learned to deal with injury but aren't enthusiastic anymore.  They are usually slow, and unmotivated.  There is nothing wrong with slow dogs--but that's not Lexi.  I want her to always be able to be herself and don't want any selfish decision of mine to change her.

When we came home from the trial, both days, SHE WAS MAD AT US.  I couldn't believe it.  She wouldn't fetch her ball, wubba, or any other toy.  She would run after it, but not bring it back.  Do you know how many times she has done that?  Like zero.  I was worried for a minute that she was hurt, but she would chase Bentley all around like a nut, but actively avoided us for a bit (reminds me of the one time that Jonathan yelled at her and she refused to hang out with him upstairs...just watched him from downstairs).  I know it sounds silly, but I don't think I could leave her home while we trial for the rest of her life.  It was too sad--she loves being there with us so much.  And running.

And then I watch her run around the house (see below) and I think...this is way worse than what we ask of her in agility!  (Don't watch these if you get motion sick...I couldn't keep up!)