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.
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.