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Rehabbing the Canine Athlete: The Cadence Edition, Week One

It is not uncommon to work with canine athletes recovering from an injury or surgery, especially in the bodywork business. I didn't know I would soon be heeding some of my advice for my own young dog, Cadence. In this series, I'll be sharing all about her rehab and recovery as we proceed along the journey that is life post-surgery.

Cadence's Incision One Week Post Op

In many cases, my clients strive to return to sport (typically agility). In C's case, we're aiming for a job with less impact, due to her new hardware. Cadence was diagnosed with dynamic lumbosacral stenosis secondary to congenital spondyloesthesis this past summer. Her symptoms included intermittent, bilateral hind-end lameness as well as difficulty jumping above 16." In laments terms, she was born with compression of the nerve space in the junction between her low back and her sacrum. Our very capable neurologist, Dr. Partnow at Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle, recommended surgical intervention, which she performed on November 19th, 2018. Eight days ago. As a bonus, C also received platelet rich plasma for new-found arthritis in her shoulders.

If you saw her move now, or even this past weekend at the trial, you might not have a clue about her recent spinal surgery, especially when she dons her fashionable hedgehog weatherbeeta blanket. The 6-inch incision is a dead giveaway, though. The full explanation of her surgery boasts many big words, but it basically included implants and a bone graft to fix the joint in a flexed position.

The first two weeks of her life following an invasive procedure consists of not much more than sleep, effective medications, frozen kongs and egg-carton enrichment. The fun begins next week during her first water treadmill session, which we'll do weekly for four weeks. Although, if you ask Cadence, today's laser and PEMF session with Dr. Leslie Eide (who doubles as a friend!) at Sound Veterinary Rehabilitation Center qualifies as fun. We even have picture proof!

We're learning that, like in life, balance is the name of the game. Have you ever tried resting a 2-year-old working line border collie? No? It's a first for me, too. I have to admit, I'm stunned at how uneventful and easy it has been so far, but I realize we're only a week in. I'm doing what I can to prevent her feeling stir crazy, like having her on a leash on a bed next to me, instead of in a crate, whenever possible.

As diligent as I try to be, perfection is not a thing whether you work in the industry or not. Cadence reminded me of this by unzipping her crate in the middle of the night last night and sleeping as free as a bird, no crate and no leash. Here I thought I could credit the lack of nighttime background complaining to the meds and her stunning personality, when in all actuality it was because she had found her own solution.

Throughout the next week, I'm hoping she continues to do as stellar as she has this past week. She moves nearly effortlessly, her pain levels are managed and all her other systems are fully functional. Check back next week as the sutures come out of the Cadence and the Cadence goes into the water!

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