This blog is telling the story of my little brother Finley. He is my black little bro of around 8 months at the moment and in training to become a service dog. When Finley was only 6 months I noticed he started to walk funny. At first we all thought he was just acting tough, because he was getting in his teenager age. You know… as if he had SWAG… like a gangster. But soon Mom dragged him to the vet for a check-up and the vet-lady said she didn’t have a good feeling about it, especially with him being this young. He was sent for a photoshoot and to an orthopedic specialist. We had to wait for a few days and mom started to become nervous. She does that a lot, so I was not immediately worried!
After a week the results came in and it was not good. Finley was a suspect for LPC, elbow dysplasia. We were sent to the animal hospital where Finley got a CT-scan of both elbows, shoulders and a physical test of his hips while under anaesthesia. Doctor Brian took very good care of him, but did not have the best news. Finley indeed had elbow dysplasia on his right elbow. Luckily, the left elbow was free of any deviations and the shoulders are also free. The left hip was moving as expected, but the right hip is a doubtful case. This means they hope the hip will grow still a bit further to become stronger until his first year of age. Then they will judge again if this is indeed the case.
So, elbow dysplasia on the right elbow. The doctor said that my little bro had a loose fragmentation of 6 mm in his joint. That must hurt, but he never tells us about it! About a week later Finley was already on the surgery table of Doctor Brian and Doctor Marese. Together they performed an Arthroscopic Surgery and removed the fragmentation. Because they work through tiny holes of about 3mm in diameter, they had to chew off bits and pieces from the broken bone particle. But becuase Finleys elbow was way more inflamed then shown on the CT scan results, this became a difficult job. Just minutes before Doctor Brian decided to open up the joint ‘old-school’ to take out the particle at once, Doctor Marese was not prepared to give up, yet! It was due to her pursuation that Finley recovered the easy way with only the two tiny holes and two stitches. Thank you!!!
Mom was happy to hear the surgery went well and all particles and affected cartilage could be removed. Also his joint was flushed to clear up the joint. I was particularly happy Finley took his time in the recovery room to sleep off his sedation. In the meantime Mom was getting more nervous, but had great support from her friend Lilly and her service dog (in training) and Finleys best friend: Bucky!
When Finley finally decided he slept enough and woke up, Mom picked him up at the vets office. But not without a new armour for Finley. I already saw them practice with a new type of shoes to prevent Finley from slipping on a slippery floor. He looks a bit like a puppy with baloons around his paws hahahahaha… but it works well. They don’t come off like the normal shoes and he only had to practice a few times to get used to them. By preventing him from slipping we protect the elbow joint and hope the recovery goes as best as possible.
Also part of the armour was a recovery sleeve. This sleeve protects the right leg and elbow. Because the two stitches were on the inside of Finleys leg, Doctor Brian suggested to put any extra padding (multiple layers of fleece) on the outside of the sleeve. Then the stitches had no chance to entangle with the fleece material. So, the sleeve does not only prevent Finley from scratching the stitches with his hind legs, but also creates a shock absorbing effect for the elbow joint when he lies down.
Because of Finleys age (still a pupper) and him being an offical LAB, he has the tendency to jump up against people, run with his blinders on or begin zoomies without warning! Because this is not helping his recovery, the doggyschool advised us to use a Halti for Finley. This gentle lead helps to prevent Finley from pulling on the leash or in his case jumping up. Because this gentle lead goes over the nose and is connected on the bottom side of the muzzle with the leash, each movement is felt by Finley. Most important game rule for Mom is to: NEVER EVER…EVER!!! pull the leash! And we are very happy with the gentle lead. It immediately calms Finley down. Once he is in this calmer state, the gentle lead can be removed.
Because Finley should walk as little as possible in the first two weeks, Mom bought a second hand dog-buggy to drive Finley to the potty area. He was allowed to poop and pee for a maximum of 5 minutes before he had to go back to the bench. A lot of people looked a bit weird at them, but Mom was dedicated and on a mission! And to be fair: Being driven around in that buggy looks pretty good. I might call shotgun on that one for later…
During the day Finley is mostly resting in puppy-jail A.K.A. the bench, because recovering from surgery costs lots of energy. A few times a day Mom and Finley train together with the ‘Button-Board’ which Dad made for them. This board holds all buttons Finley should be using in a while. Also they train things as brushing, nail clipping, cleaning eyes and ears, tick removal, getting shoes on, cleaning and drying of paws and playing with the snuffle mat. According to Mom all those things are important for my little bro to learn as well. Of course, I’m a pro at those things!
One thing Finley has, and I don’t, is patience. Because he physically cannot drain his energy, he must use his mind to mentally tire out. A perfect way to do this is by using his brain cells and his nose. Yes, BRAINTRAINERS! Now… I don’t have the patience to work for my food. Frustration starts immediately and I’m not affraid to use violence against the games. But my boy Finley… he really investigates the games and works his way to all the different treats. For some reason our pawrents ALWAYS choose to put me in the other room. 🤬
And sleeping in puppy-jail also requires some practice for Finley, I guess: