Monday, 8 August 2011

Dog-leg diary: Getting into stride

Fargo went for his second physiotherapy appointment on Friday, and while I knew he would enjoy it (he loves the physiotherapist), I must admit I approached it with a little trepidation.

Fargo's achieved the first goal in his recovery
Our first visit had revealed problems with three of Fargo’s legs, as his left hind leg and foreleg were suffering from the burden of compensating for his right hind. After a week of conscientious massage, stretching, ice packs and short, slow walks, I thought I could see signs of improvement in all three of Fargo’s poorly legs. But since I hadn’t even noticed some of his problems until they were pointed out to me, I knew that the professional eyes of the physiotherapist might see differently to mine. As things turned out, I needn’t have worried.

The physio noticed Fargo’s improvement straight away and he was really pleased with his progress. Fargo’s muscle is starting to build up. He’s lengthened his stride on that left foreleg and he’s putting his weight more evenly on his right hind leg, using a greater range of motion. Overall, his gait seems a lot more even than it was.

What a relief! Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet. Only three weeks after his operation, Fargo still has a long way to go and his bone isn’t even half-way through the healing process yet. But while this is no time for complacency, we have at least achieved our first goal.

Over the next week or two, Fargo’s routine will carry on pretty much as before. His three five-minute walks have now become two eight-minute walks and, as long as the vet is happy at this Thursday’s check-up, we can extend the walks to ten minutes. On the physio’s advice, at that point I’ll also start applying heat packs rather than ice packs to Fargo’s shoulder and knee. We’re seeing the physio again at the end of the month, and long as Fargo has continued to make good progress we’ll start thinking about hydrotherapy to help him build up his muscle.

The main challenge remains the same – making sure Fargo doesn’t overdo it. He’s extremely well in himself and I suspect that, given the pain he must have felt before his operation, he’s actually feeling better than he has for a long time. Add a brisk wind and some slightly cooler days than we’ve had of late (perfect weather for dogs), and you have a Labradoodle that wants to run for miles. I have to keep him on a lead in the garden to prevent any sudden bursts of speed, and I caught him sneaking up the stairs the other day. But despite his wish for activity, Fargo is enjoying life. He loves his massages and, with the improvements to his hind legs, he’s a lot more amenable to the stretching exercises too.

At this stage, nothing can dim my spirits. It’s hard work making sure Fargo gets all the rest he needs, as well as his massages and stretches. But it’s also lovely to spend time doing all these things with him and to see the progress he’s making. I’m really looking forward to seeing him improve more over the coming weeks.

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