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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elbow dyspasia

Animal activity is ratcheting up in our forest as our big snow and wind pack has melted over a few days of warm weather. A small herd of deer, including both does and bucks, visited several cameras. Here, the doe meticulously sniffed a scent post that has been marked by a bobcat, mountain lion, bear, and coyote. This is another example of how scent posts are not used by only one species. However, this one has never been marked by a deer, only sniffed.
Then, the doe stared into the forest with both of her mule-like ears pointed forward.
Then, using my favorite trick, she swiveled her right ear to monitor the forest behind her.
My favorite animals to photograph with my trail cameras are predators. However, if prey animals aren't around, the predators also don't visit. Thus, the appearance of deer and rabbits at my cameras recently bodes well for having their predators visit.

The Duo and I had a wonderful time playing in the forest yesterday afternoon. The snow had melted and refrozen into a state where walking was possible! You have no idea how happy that made all of us!

We started in the meadow where brown grass as tall as me in places still sways in the wind above the snow.
I planned a longer than usual hike because a certain jet black labrador had been getting in mischief all afternoon. His cup of energy spills over.
R has astounded us over the past couple of years by showing no signs of his elbow dysplasia problems. He was diagnosed with it just before his first birthday, and he had surgery on his birthday. His form of elbow dysplasia was a badly formed bone with a divot in it. The cartilage over top of that hole in his bone had collapsed into it, shattering like a hard boiled egg shell.
We had an awesome surgeon fix it arthroscopically. Then, we had a interminable period of extreme rest for R. He was so agitated with excess energy during those months that we had to drug him to keep him quiet.

But, to our utter amazement, after many months of healing and gradually building up his strength, he ran again. As you all know from my photos, he runs like a maniac these days!
The followup was very interesting. R came from an extremely ethical and highly regarded breeder who helped pay for his surgery and offered us another puppy (for free) in addition to R. She was 100% enthusiastic about getting R's elbow dysplasia registered in the health records of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Her goal is to breed healthier Labs, and if we don't keep records of genetic problems, that goal is unattainable.

To everyone's amazement, when we sent in R's xrays for evaluation by the OFA, they declared that he had "normal" elbows. Our vet called and explained that we "knew for a fact" that there was a major genetic defect in his elbow based on CAT scans and surgery. Our vet offered to send any additional records that they might need to correctly evaluate R's elbows. The OFA refused. They said that they must do all cases the same way... and they don't reevaluate on request. So, contrary to what the breeder, the vet, and we wanted, R appears in the database as having "normal" elbows.

It shows me that I shouldn't place too much weight on the OFA records when I choose a dog or a breeder in the future. My respect for that organization plummeted due to how they handled R's elbow dysplasia.

Despite the OFA's erroneous declaration, the breeder is not breeding R's mother or father again to avoid this problem in future puppies. The breeder has acted with the highest ethics possible given the situation.
Back to yesterday's hike... We climbed up out of the grassy meadow onto a slope of boulders and shrubs. R was vibrating with excess energy so I was playing training games with the Duo every few minutes to keep R focused on me.

A sit stay...
And, a recall out of a sit stay...

I wasn't even thinking about R's elbow because it hasn't given him problems in so long. We climbed up toward Hug Hill and the snow got deeper. Off the trail, the snow was up to my knees and a tough crust covered it. As we climbed, I spotted our mountains.
Just as we arrived atop Hug Hill, R came porpoising out of some bottomless snow limping dramatically. I thought that he was badly injured as we walked the last few meters to the summit under an awe-inspiring sky.
As we stood on the summit, he held his "bad" leg up, letting it hang limply from his shoulder. My heart was in my throat. Oh no.

Under a tumultuous sunset, I checked his paw for a cut pad or a broken nail, actually hoping that I'd find one of those curable and inevitable injuries of a very active dog. My exam was hindered by my goofy R wriggling and play-biting me incessantly. Unfortunately, his paw looked fine.
So, I decided that, while we stood on the summit, I'd pretend that nothing was wrong. The little girl in me was hoping that, by covering my eyes, I could make the limp go away.
It didn't work. He limped home on leash and limped through the evening. But, overnight, a small miracle occurred. He did not limp this morning during an easy walk. He did not limp when he clambered to his feet after a long nap later in the day. Maybe we dodged a small catastrophe. Only time will tell.


  1. Maybe he stepped on something and "bruised" his paw. We can hope it wasn't his elbow!!

  2. Those summit shots are awesome, KB - what dramatic colors! Glad R dodged the bullet - probably strained a muscle in the deep snow and just had to let it rest overnight.

  3. i hate that they can't talk, then we stress over silly stuff. ugh.

    hope it's nothing!

  4. I'm hoping that it was just a wrench, a muscle pull that hurt at the time, but repaired itself quickly.

  5. I would never have guessed that R had major surgery. He seems right as rain. Thanks for the insight into the registry. Of course there isn't much to offer besides that except for choosing a great breeder. Yours sounds fantastic.

    Mango Momma

  6. Thanks for sending us the meaning of Pip. We hadn't heard either before. He was actually named after the character Pip in the novel Great Expectations, but I sure like the meaning - something wonderful!

  7. We will cross our paws and hope that it was just a momentary pain and not an indication of something more. Wonderful photos, keep up the good trail patrol.

    Mogley G. Retriever

  8. Paws crossed for R!

    Of course, thanks SO much for all those sky shots!

  9. All our feets are crossed!
    Benny & Lily

  10. We have to concur with Wild Dingo - so tough when they can't tell you what is hurting. Phantom's had an off week, and we can't help but wish he could tell us what is wrong.

    Our snow is totally gone. It was 73 here today - just crazy. We are hearing rumors of snow on Monday but as of right now that is hard to believe.

    We don't know how you do it, but today's photos are even better than the best we have seen here.

  11. Puppy prayers on da way fur R! :) Amazing photos....again!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  12. Hello! To start, I want to say that I admire the integrity and honesty of the breeder that you got R from--What an example that so many could follow!! You can tell their dedication and devotion to the breed by deciding not to have any more puppies from the line that R came from.

    I will also hope and think positive that R just bruised or twisted something and that all is okay! One of our dogs will occasionally limp--And is fine the next day with a little bit of rest and taking it easy for a couple of days.

    I do hope you've had a good day!!!

  13. I pray that he is okay and it was just a bruised paw. I never would have known he had surgery the way he runs. The pictures are so beautiful. I had a friend years ago from your Colorado and she came here and kind of laughed at our mountains...she said they were just hills. I can see why after looking at your pictures which are always so much fun to see. Prayers for R...please let him be okay. Lots of love, Debbie and Holly

  14. If the snow was really deep or wet, he could have just slipped and pulled a muscle. Sometimes just turing the wrong way can really cause a problem. We certainly know about that here with a certain broken-toed hound!

    I'm curious, did any of the other puppies in R's litter have the same problem? I don't think I've ever heard of that problem before.

    I love that picture of K and R doing recall! K looks so beautiful and serious and R looks so goofy!

  15. It might be pulled muscle, like what Bunny said. Pepsi has this issue too. He hurt his muscle just after he turned 2, and turned out to be just over-stressed muscles because he ran and jumped too much.

    He recovers fairly quickly enough. I'm keeping my fingers (& paws) crossed!

    Pepsi, and A

  16. That is great news that R's elbow dysplasia is not holding him back.

    It is also so good to hear how responsible your breeder is, she sounds like a very good roll model for others.

    It is funny that you mention OFA and your feelings about their protocol. I have my own issues with them too. It angers me how a program like theirs that is suppose to be a great data base for hereditary conditions can have so many flaws.

  17. Great pictures and adorable dogs!

    Will you take R in for a vet check on the elbow? I do love the pictures of the dogs where K looks like The Church Lady and R looks like he is a little crazy boy.

    We were up in the 40s yesterday, and tonight its 20s and tomorrow is supposed to be 13F. That will be good because the lake at the bottom of my driveway will freeze, oh, where DID I put those skates?

    Chees and hugs,

    Stella, Jo and Zkhat

  18. Both of your furbabies are miracles! We are sending powerful White Dog energy that R will be fine and will not miss the joyous romps of the coming Spring with you and K!

  19. So sorry to hear about R's troubles. Maybe he just landed on it wrong and knock his elbow around for a mintue. After all you've been through with K, we are sending even more paw prayers your way. Your dogs are just too cool to have any more boo-boos.

  20. Take comfort in the fact that R's just fine this morning. Nothing like a good nights rest to set things straight.

    You sure have sensible breeders.

  21. We hope that R was just sore or tired and that his night rest helped him regain his strenght! Paws are crossed it's nothing serious!

  22. I hope R truly is okay. I don't know much about dogs and breeding (other than what I read here), but I am very proud of your breeder for being ethical, even though the window existed to act otherwise. Good to know there are still good people in the world. Love your moon shot!

  23. We will cross our paws that it was really just a momentary blip. And how wonderful to have a breeder with a heart and a conscience!

    Our verification word is "andes". That would be a little ways south of you???!

  24. We join you and so many other readers with prayers it was a muscle cramp and nothing serious. They frequently happen with performance horses after a fast workout...we call it "tying up". You see it on TV with athletes. The way he rested and seemed to "pop" out of his lameness...

    BrownDog's Momma
    P.S. 80 degrees here today. Young tiny leaves are out on many trees. (and pollen)

  25. Oh I can imagine the disappointment in R's heart that his owie kept him from enjoying the rest of the run in the forest.
    Sometimes just a rest is all that is needed to make things well.
    That is what I am hoping.
    Such beautiful, beautiful colors in your sky photos. Such beautiful mountains and I love the photo of K and R- with those grasses


  26. Yes...the ol' sprain that comes from outta nowhere limp...Sophie has managed a couple of these in her short 4 years. So careful now with unnecessary jumping and hopping after thrown balls. As the vet says...Unless a dog lives in the circus ..why chance a damaged leg/paw/anything?! That sort of put me in my place...I hear ya! I will be diligent and careful.

  27. I hope that nasty limp stays away! Maybe he just tweaked something, and it was a temporary episode. Fingers and paws crossed here for R.


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