Monday, February 11, 2013

Not Again

Such a foreboding title for this post, I know. But it's true. I have bad news to report. Again.

Saturday morning Vegas came up lame. The doorbell rang while we were still lounging in bed and she, being the terrific guard dog she is, launched bodily off the bed and flew to the front door. After the hubbub she whimpered a bit and didn't want to get back on the bed. In looking back with hindsight being the 20/20 beast that it is, she had been having a bit of a more difficult time to get on the bed for about two weeks - enough so that I'd put out a query on some dog lists for a set of stairs.

I kept her pretty low key Saturday - although we'd had plans to get out and take some walks or do some short hikes, and hoped for the best. I did make her an appointment to see the vet Sunday with the understanding I'd call and cancel if she was better.

By Sunday morning, she was not. In fact, she'd spent portions of the day/evening whimpering quietly from the discomfort and clearly was not putting full weight on the leg. We saw Dr. Bullard at Cornelius Veterinary Clinic, the clinic I worked at more than a dozen years ago. It was fortunate Dr. Bullard was in as he has a significant amount of orthopedic experience, despite not specializing.

The exam was not particularly pleasant - for Vegas or myself - and when he delivered the verdict, I was crestfallen. Dr. Bullard was 95% certain she has strained her ACL, to what degree we don't know. He said (almost verbatim), "I don't know to what percentage, could be 2%, 3, maybe 5%." He was confident she had not fully ruptured the ACL though because her knee was not swollen. He performed the same tests on left and right and consistently got a response (look back) when her left knee was in flexion when he pressed deeply into the drawer.
From a diagram in the vet's office, he showed me the ACL is that tendon in the center of the knee between the femur and the ulna. He described the tendon as many fibers extending between these two bones, making a 90-degree turn and forming a fan shape. Here is another image:
So our game plan at this point is six weeks of strict crate rest. I have a 36" high, 4'x4' x-pen that is now set up in our living room. She is going to go through many, many bully sticks, raw bones, and other entertainment/recreational chewies over the next few weeks, I can guarantee that. The experience has already been pretty rough. She's really, really not enjoying it. I slept on the couch last night so I could be close to her as she was whining otherwise. Tonight I tried to let her out a bit but she almost immediately brought me a toy and wanted to play. This is going to be a tough time.

Here are a couple of articles that explain a bit more about this type of injury:

Subsequent to the six weeks, assuming she's not limping/lame, we'll progress to leashed walks. Right now she's even leashed for potty breaks. She cannot, under no circumstance, stress, strain, twist, put pressure on, or otherwise do anything but rest that leg. The alternative, the possibility of not healing her fully, is unthinkable at this time.


  1. Oh no! I hope Vegas responds to the rest for her knee. My girl just underwent TTA knee surgery after having trouble with her iliopsoas and an injury to the ACL throughout most of last year. We tried 8 weeks of total rest with very slow return to activity, but for her it didn't help. I hope like crazy it helps Vegas. Holly also has spondylosis in her back and going through the knee surgery made that more uncomfortable for her. Heal Vegas!

  2. Poor Vegas! Hopefully you heal up quicker than expected and can get out of that pen!

    wags, wiggles & slobbers