My friend Jolayne and I went to Okotoks to the Elizabeth Street Pet Hospital to see a new chirocpractic vet earlier this week. Dr.Catherine Pampigilione came highly recommended, and we both wanted to get our dogs looked at.
Brit has odd movement now and again, just a little shuffle sometimes. It has been bugging me for a while. When I first got Brit she had zero muscle. She had not been exercised well and was not very coordinated. I've been working since then to get her muscled, and have done a ton of other things to get her using her legs properly. Lots of off leash runs up and down coulees, swimming (when we can), trotting beside the bike, building core muscles with sit ups, sit/stand, spinning left/right, back ups, side stepping, and I just got some little discs to start working on building her rear muscles in particular. I am also going to splurge and buy a peanut ball big enough for her to stand on. With all of this I have seen improvement muscle wise, and body awareness. The weird shuffle doesn't seem so apparent. But I could still see it.
Anyway, back to the appointment. The vet, Catherine, was very impressive. She was very thorough, and professional. She really seemed to know her stuff, and was able to answer lots of questions. Her accent takes a bit of getting used to, but overall she is great. She also has a HUGE underwater treadmill there aswell. It is a very nice clinic.
We started off by looking at Brit's movement- she spotted the same strange step I had been seeing right away. Inside she started her exam. First off Brit is very flexible. It was funny to watch- kind of like the gumby dog. Her legs and her body are kind of noodle like. :) She has great range of motion, and her flexibility is a plus. Dr.Catherine does feel that there is a problem in her left hip. She said that it sounded typical of a hip where the ball is too small and slides, or pops out on occasion. (she could feel and hear it) According to her this is common in the Border Collie breed because they need the laxity in the hips to move and stalk the way they do. Unfortunately this can also cause the misstep that I am seeing. She said that although it would be classified as Hip Displasia not to be too worried about it at this point. She feels that with further exercise and fitness that she likely won't have any problems. She said often in a young dog that once the muscle has built up around the joint it won't be a concern. And that because prior to coming to me she hadn't been regularly exercised, she thinks that it likely has contributed to the looseness in the joint. She was pretty certain in this, which gave me confidence aswell.
I asked about an X-Ray and Dr.Catherine said not to bother. There is an obvious problem and the xray isn't going to make it any more clear at this point. She is suggesting continuing what I am doing- lots of exercise to build up the muscle around the joint and to keep her as active as possible. If further down the road there is an issue then she will xray, but for now lots of running and conditioning. She isn't lame, or sore, so she doesn't feel that she is candidate for any other treatment.
It has taken me a few days to digest this news. You hear Hip Displasia and it's like your whole world starts spinning. I'm trying very hard to remember what she said. No Big Deal. It's not a crushed ball or socket, it's not deformed, she thinks the ball is just too small. Muscle will hold it in. Build Muscle. Take a deep breath. But it's hard. I had a dog with Hip Displasia once. I was 14 and the dog was nine months old. She was crippled. I had to euthanise her. I know this is different. But if I think about it too much it's hard to breathe.
I remind myself that it's okay. This vet is very certain it won't affect her and that the movement I am seeing now will continue to improve. She also said that there is no reason she won't be able to do all of the things I had planned for her.
I can't help but think about the what if's. What if the vet is wrong and she won't really be okay? What if she always has a skip? What if the dog that I kept to play agility and obedience with can't do any of that?
I love this dog, and there is no way I could give her up now. So I guess that last what if doesn't really matter. I am attached. And that's not who I am or what I believe in. Dogs are for life- in sickness and in health. I am not the type of person who could give away a dog because they don't suit, or "aren't working out." When I decided to keep her I knew I was taking a risk. A rescue dog is always a risk. But I figured I'd had my share of bad luck already. One can only have so much bad luck right?
In any case we had just started moving forward onto some actual agility training, but we will put that on the back burner and spend our time on more foundation work (which is also super great for fitness), and of course all the other exercising/building muscle type stuff.
So that's that. Nothing we can do but to keep on marching on. One step at a time. I have decided that life isn't very fair though.