As you are probably aware the dogs form an integral part of the CJS Office Team, some of you even asked us for more updates about them in the last readers survey. Life is not always plain sailing when you have pets so for Love Your Pet Day we're sharing an update about Office Dog Flora.
Once the last plate is dried and put away I get nudged by a cold, wet, black nose saying: "It's trick training time".
Office dog Flora and I head off, leaving everyone else behind. We do lengths, wiggles, curls and sit-stands, her tricks now include step up and step down, under, through, balancing, bows and shake paws.
In the last year we have accumulated a series of poles, cones and large foam blocks to 'play' with and she loves it, she can't wait to show off. In fact it's quite hard to make her slow down on what are now the easier, less complicated tasks; her attitude is "Yes, yes, I can do these - now hurry up and let's do something else". Flora thinks it's just a game that involves lots of one-to-one attention and a copious supply of treats. But there's a serious reason behind this fun time. What she doesn’t know is that this is part of a carefully planned physiotherapy schedule devised by her personal physio Kate who checks on progress every six weeks and tweaks our instructions, adding in new exercises, taking out or changing the now familiar easily accomplished tasks.
When she was six months old after a lovely long walk over the CJS office Christmas break she came home favouring her left foreleg. Initially we tried complete rest but she still didn't want to use the right leg properly and so began a long saga. A trip to the vets in early January suggested it may be a sprain and we'd try anti-inflammatories and rest, to no avail she was still lame. An x-ray showed a shadow suggesting bone damage, at the time diagnosed as most likely elbow dysplasia. Referral for MRI scans and arthroscopy to remove the damaged bone (technically called a coronoidectomy for those of you of a veterinary mindset) followed by rest and rehab, you can read about Flora's Big Adventure here. Keeping a young active lab calm and entertained without using her front feet was no easy task but with some ingenuity we made it though, I detailed her crate rest as well, this is here. From there it was some physio to get mobility and movement back into the leg followed by hydrotherapy to build up the muscles again. Flora absolutely loved her "swimming" and it made the hour long journey worth it to see her happy smiling face in the pool and what was even better was that all the rehab treatment worked wonderfully well; before long she was back out running and generally enjoying life like a young Labrador should.
As you may have guessed it wasn't to last, in early summer 2021 Flora was out of sorts with herself and an assessment by the vet showed she has bad arthritis in the injured elbow only three years after her surgery. However, there was the wonderful new drug out, only licensed two months prior would we like to try it? To be honest it is a miracle drug, blocking the pain signals and allowing a much greater range of motion. It's so amazing that for a while it was rationed to dogs already receiving it, the manufacturers just couldn't keep up with demand. New wonder drugs don't come cheap* though and it's a monthly top up….
For most of us I suspect the answers are loads, as far and whatever it takes.
To ensure she has as good a quality of life for as long as possible the vets and I talked about all sorts of treatment and management options of which there were plenty. I have no doubt in the future we'll go back to hydrotherapy, consider laser and light treatment, one of our vets does acupuncture so that's an option too; thanks to supervets there are now joint replacements which are still relatively new but becoming more common place and routine options but we're doing all we can to avoid any further operations.
For now Flora will keep reminding me it's fun trick time.
Written by CJS Editor, Kerryn Humphreys with assistance from Office Dog Flora.
*For which I can't thank our vet insurance enough!