February 2018

Caudal Cruciate Ligament Rupture

It’s been two weeks since Epic’s injury and yesterday was the day of his surgery. He’s been a good boy taking it easy for two weeks, but his energy was sky high when he finally got to leave the house and go for an adventure. During the initial check with the surgeon, he was surprised to see how well Epic was moving. I showed him in a walk and a trot and he did not show any signs of lameness (which he hasn’t at home for about a week either). This made the surgeon question his original diagnosis of a CLL injury, because dogs don’t usually recover so nicely from that. I left Epic for an arthroscopy and possible surgery in case it was a CLL injury after all. I took the rest of my dogs to an indoor arena for training while I waited for the vet’s office to call me.

I came to pick Epic up six hour later and he was very happy to see me and still very energetic even after anaesthesia and arthroscopy. He didn’t have surgery on his knee since the arthroscopy showed a total caudal cruciate ligament rupture, which is not helped by TPLO or TTA. The caudal cruciate ligament is much less common to rupture than the cranial, and it happens with a specific type of trauma (most often when a dog for example is hit by a car). The caudal cruciate ligament has the opposite job to the cranial. With a CCL rupture, the femur (thighbone) slips forward since the ligament is not keeping it in place. The caudal cruciate ligament keeps the thighbone from slipping back or sideways. Epic shows some slipping sideways when provoked when the stifle is flexed but is very stable with his leg straight.

Arthroscopy also showed that all other structures in his knee looks great and that inflammation is minimal. Our orthopaedic surgeon did not recommend any surgery on this type of injury as he thinks it might create more problems than it solves. It’s a very uncommon injury to only rupture the CaCL and not have any other injuries in the knee. In the cases that he had seen before, dogs had come back to work with rest and rehab and no surgery. This is our plan for now – six weeks of rest and then gradually building muscle and proprioception. I’d love to hear from others that has suffered the same injury with active dogs.

Epic in his new apartment when he got home yesterday

Epic this morning, ready to party. He also jumped out of his enclosure and onto the kitchen table once…

Epic’s CCL injury

On Sunday, I was enjoying a sheepdog clinic at our farm and talking to a friend about all the things that can happen to a dog, and about injuries that had happened recently to dogs we know. I was thinking to myself that I had been so lucky to never have had an acute injury on any of my dogs. At lunch, I brought Epic out to switch the sheep out, and I sent him to fetch sheep in an area that is quite full of small trees and roots. We also have a bit of snow and the area is probably a bit slippery. He fetched them nicely and I let five of them out. As I tried to recall Epic the rest of the sheep bolted out away from the gate and he decided not to listen to my recall, but to catch up with them and bring them to me again. As he was coming around the sheep he suddenly changed to a much slower pace and I could hear him whimper. I quickly got him and he was on three legs, in obvious pain. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I got the impression that he got his leg caught in something that stopped him abruptly. We also found a scratch/burn mark further up on that leg, which probably happened at the same time.

I gave him painkillers and just kept a eye on him for the rest of the day. He seemed to get better during the afternoon and would sometimes use his right back leg and put weight on it, but then he would go back to hopping on three legs. I took him to our local vet the next morning, and she concluded that it was his knee that bothered him and sent us on to an orthopaedic vet. We were lucky enough that he could fit us in and have a look at Epic already today. Thomas brought him there (it’s an 80 minute drive) because I had to work. He was diagnosed with a CCL – Cranial Cruciate Ligament – tear, and will need surgery. Fortunately, there is no indication of any degenerative damage on the ligaments. The left knee was stable and there was no arthritis in the right knee. We were probably just unlucky. Very sad considering the great year we had last year, and how much I was looking forward to tryouts and competitions with him this spring.

He is scheduled to have surgery on February 19. The surgeon hasn’t decided on TTA or TPLO as the method. I was under the impression that TPLO was “better”, but I realise that my google skills are not as good as his surgical skills, and that I should let him decide what is best for Epic. The worst thing about injured dogs is that it’s so hard to know what is the best for your dog. Unless you have a surgeon and a rehab specialist that you trust fully, you’ll have doubts. Have we found the best surgeon? What is best practice in the two weeks before the surgery? Who should I take advice from regarding rehab after surgery? I’m glad that this is a fairly common injury in dogs, and that there are lots of resources online. But that also means that there is a lot of information to sort through and decide on…

Please keep your fingers crossed for Epic, and let me know if you have any useful information. I will keep you updated on this new part of our journey. Also – this is expensive – you can help me out while learning a lot by joining our online classes that started yesterday.

Free Working Spot For A Young Dog Trainer

Our next set of online classes start on Monday, and we’re excited to get to know new trainers and their dogs from different countries. You can still sign up if you want to join the fun.

I often think about how lucky I’ve been to have had grown ups who helped me out when I was young and wanted to train and compete with dogs. From my parents who always supported me by driving me to classes, trainings and competition –and bought dogs for me, to the well known instructors that took me under their wing and helped me access training that I could only dream about with my budget as a young adult. I am so grateful for that.

Twiggy and I at the Swedish Youth Championship.

I feel like passing this favour on. I want to give a young dog trainer and their dog the chance to join our foundation class for free. If you are 25 years old or younger, this is what to do: Like the page on Facebook. Write a comment on the post on our Facebook page and tell us why you want to join our Foundation Class Online. We will wrap the contest up on Monday at 15:00/3 pm CET and let you know the result during the evening.

Are you too old for this competition? Think about how you can help a young person. Give the a ride to a competition? Ask them to come along to a seminar? Train together? It means so much.

One Year With Spy

Today, Spy has been a member of our family for one whole year! On February 1st, 2017, I woke up early, took Bud and Epic on a walk along Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, and then drove across the border to Donegal in Ireland where I met Spy. She was living in a pen in a shed along with some other border collies. By all means, a nice shed compared to how a lot of sheepdogs live, but she was not at all used to the family dog life that our dogs live. It was a big change for her coming to Sweden, and it’s taken longer than I thought to become a team with her. 

When she came her, she wasn’t used to looking to humans for support or for fun. She didn’t understand or want to take food from my hand, she wouldn’t play. If something scared her, she would run away. It took longer than I had thought to get her excited about training, and we had some setbacks. Of course, making everyday work was much more important than training for sports, and she made progress in that department too. She started to look to me for comfort and she could listen to me even when she was excited. It was difficult to create that good relationship with a dog that wouldn’t take rewards, especially not if she was upset or excited. I’m used to always rewarding good behaviors and using rewards to counter-condition scary things and teach good manners. Rewards make everything so much easier!

We had a setback in training around September, where she decided she didn’t like the training field and didn’t feel safe enough to play:

We made some progress and then I sprained my ankle and couldn’t run for a month, so we had to take it easy. Getting Spy to play involved a lot of running on my part. We made a lot of progress in late October and November, and she started to both go crazy about toys and about the little agility training we did. It took forever to convince her that tunnels are okay and actually fun, but she can now do a short, straight tunnel and likes it. Once we master all entries, I’ll try a longer tunnel and then gradually start to bend it. It’s funny how something so simple as a tunnel can become such a project. The nice thing is that she now really enjoys training and I actually have to bring out food to get her to slow down a bit and think. I think she’s the fastest of my dogs through a straight line of low jumps. This is a short video from our session yesterday. What a difference!

Spy teaches me a lot and I really enjoy her as a part of my pack. She’s happy, friendly and fun. I’m so excited to see what our second year will bring, now that we know and trust each other.