Friday, June 25, 2010
A Very Special Photo
This photo is very special to me. It was taken at the St. Cloud AKC trial on Saturday, June 19th, 2010 by Deb Forstner. She was kind enough to send me a copy (both digital and paper). She said in her message (and I'm paraphrasing) that she lucked out in getting such a nice shot. What she didn't know was just HOW amazing this photo is and just what she captured. I am actually in the photo, but when I zoomed in and took a look at Reason jumping, I had to smile.
One year ago - June of 2009, I ran Reason at this same trial. What I didn't know at that time was that it was going to be the last time he would be able to do trials until mid January of 2010. About 2 weeks after that trial in 2009, I was doing a 2 jump practice session with Schema on serpentines and I tried it with Reason. Serpentine and turn to the right....serpentine and turn to the left. It was at that time that Reason cried and as I looked towards him, he was raising his right rear leg. I thought he had torn his cruciate ligament. When I looked closer at that leg, it wasn't painful. But the outer digit on that rear right foot was jammed/dislocated. I quickly pulled it back into place, he screamed and appeared fine. No lameness. That same thing happened again the next day when he was just turning on his own in the yard. The diagnosis at that time was that it was a torn ligament. He was on a tight supportive wrap for 4 weeks and extremely restricted leash walking. For at least 8 weeks after that, I gradually built up the strength in that leg with various exercises that were given to me by Lin Gelbmann (click here to read more about Lin). And he appeared to be doing well and I gradually had him jumping again. In October, he dislocated it again going through a tunnel by banking to the left.
I was devastated. Not because of him needing to be retired from agility, but because Reason is such an active dog - a do-er. He needs activity - a job. All these thoughts were going through my head as I tried to think about how I was going to prevent this from happening again. In early November I saw a specialist at the University of Minnesota (Elizabeth LaFond) and when she saw Reason's toe, she told me that it was moving in ways that it should not move. She gave me four options, one of which was amputate the toe. This option gave Reason the shortest recovery time - where he could be back to being a normal dog (well, normal Reason) the quickest. I made the decision to go that route and I was lucky that there was an opening the following Friday. So, on November 6th, the surgery was done and he came home the next day. Not a bit of lameness after the surgery. The procedure was a success and the incision healed beautifully.
There was no balance issues and after 3 weeks, I started to exercise and rehab that leg and foot again. As I started working him with exercises, I noticed that he was actually moving better and was more relaxed than before the surgery. The thought occurred to me that I might be able to do agility with him again. A few weeks later, I started to jump him at 16" and handled it wonderfully and he was SO happy. I was able to practice a few times on a dirt arena as well as the mats at TCOTC and he did great. In mid January, I entered him in his first AKC trial (the Malinois trial) and he was AMAZING! He actually placed 2nd in two of his classes - one was a jumpers class. I was so happy and he was even more happy.
He's been trialing since then - only at the AKC trials and I am very careful of the surface. I won't run him on any surface where he can not dig in.
So, why does that photo above so special to me? It had been one year since that last agility trial before that dislocated toe happened. In that photo, he is 3 days short of turning 11 years old - that in and of itself is amazing. But look closely at that right rear foot as he is turning over the double (on his way to the weaves, BTW :-)). You can see that he is flying over the jump without that toe.
Thank you Deb for this VERY special photo!!!