The Backstory: Cadence and the 'Trust Your Gut' Lesson
To the right, you'll see a puppy picture of Cadence. To some, this might be an insignificant looking picture. But not for me. I remember that day as if it happened yesterday, instead of two years ago.
December 22, 2016. That was the day I first took Cadence to see a specialist regarding her transient lameness. At that point, most people thought I was crazy (or so I was told). Her 'lameness' consisted of a few off steps here and there, and an occasional 'skip step.' I also noticed a change in the cadence of her gait (no pun intended).
During her young puppyhood, I often caught myself staring at her as she moved across the yard. Her movement stopped me in my tracks on more than one occasion, there was something so mesmerizing and smooth about her. At around 5 months, I noticed her movement stopped catching my attention. This was a difficult symptom to explain to others.
Her lameness rotated limbs and didn't last longer than a few minutes. The sentiment of the first specialist was something along the lines of, "Bring her back when she's actually lame. I wouldn't even know what to radiograph." And he sent me along my way, my crying way.
Here I am two years later, with a dog who rests at my side, five-weeks post op. It took me two years, but the problem exposed itself more and more as time went on. Cadence's determined work ethic hid the signs further. In the end, though, we did uncover the problem. And sometimes we need to employ the help of time.
What can we all learn from this? Trust your gut! I embrace it when my clients come into me and say, "I could be crazy, but I noticed this change." In Cadence's case, an early diagnosis wouldn't have changed her congenital lumbosacral issue. But, in the case of our agility dogs, taking note of a change in how they are performing an obstacle or moving across the living room can sometimes prevent a minor issue from turning into an extensive injury.
Take note of these changes, however small. Always advocate for yourself and your dog. Sure, we can go overboard. But I prefer that to the alternative. And I vow to listen whenever an owner comes to me with a worry.