I’ve always thought that Ted has a high pain threshold. Whenever we’ve been at the vet and they’ve gently warned that whatever they are about to do Ted ‘might not like’ (which I take as code for, ‘I hope he doesn’t nip me’), Ted just stands stoically and takes it. He rarely flinches, the most he’ll do is give a disinterested look.
So after Christmas, when he started limping, it was cause for quick concern. Was it a grass seed? I know two dogs who have suffered when one of these dart-shaped devils has worked its way into a paw and up the leg. As we had just returned from exploring New Zealand’s Coromandel, home of the Hobbits and where some of the most lush green hills meet spectacular beaches, this seemed a likely scenario. Although we regularly check Ted’s paws and keep the fur around them groomed short, Ted had been having a wild old time zooming about in the long grass.
We headed to the vet but they didn’t think it was grass seeds. After taking a thorough history of the complaint (he holds his back paw and limps for a bit after getting up and finds it hard to stretch), noting what he had been doing recently (zooming about on beaches and hills, chasing balls) and having done some careful bending and stretching of Ted’s hindquarters, the vet pronounced a suspected cruciate ligament injury. Apparently it’s one of the most common dog injuries, often induced by chasing balls, and all the quick about-turns and fancy footwork that make doing it such fun for Ted.
He was given a course of beef-flavoured anti-inflammatories (brilliant – unsurprisingly there was none of the usual hassle about getting him to take it) and a short session of laser therapy to help kickstart the healing process. We were also asked to keep him on the lead with no running about or ball chasing, ‘until things settle down’. This wasn’t as hard as it sounded at first. We’ve been having crazy high humidity for the last month or so, it wasn’t exactly weather for dashing about in.
Of course, since this diagnosis people have told me about their dogs with cruciate ligament injuries. While the vet mentioned the various options available for Ted, from the relatively gentle approach that we were starting with, to physiotherapy and potentially surgery if this all doesn’t work, I was interested to hear about dogs with this condition. “Don’t rush into surgery,” warned my neighbour the nurse (who has known her share of human cruciate ligament injuries, too). Two of her friend’s dogs have gone through the trauma of surgery and not been cured afterwards. A message on social media championed laser therapy. Another said the condition settled in her dog eventually, but it took 9 months.
So, as long as things don’t deteriorate, it seems like we’ll be in it for the long haul. He’s on a course of laser therapy. We might investigate physiotherapy if need be. Someone else suggested acupuncture. We’ll see how he goes, head out on shorter strolls rather than longer rambles and continue his on-lead confinement. It’s going to be a bind for Ted. I sometimes think his reason for being is to chase balls.
In the meantime, we’ll make more of his static wrestling with his (expanding) collection of furry toys. He’s getting good at batting a ball back and forth to me with his paw while he’s lying down – it’s a bit like playing table football. Add in some new training tricks and we’ll do our best to exercise his mind and keep his body on track, too.