Gandy Gone Gimpy

IMG_1409tarynGandy480She simply walked up to the dinner table Tuesday night and stood there at my feet, waiting, as if to say “Why doesn’t this work anymore?”

After a full, normal, active (if not hyperactive) day around the domain, she should have been standing there for a pat on the head. Instead, she showed us her right back leg was injured. No whining, no fretting, just a statement of fact: she couldn’t stand on all four legs. That was the first time we were aware she had been injured; we still don’t know exactly when or how.

To make a long and ongoing story short, the best we can hope for is a very expensive report to tell us there are no orthopedic interventions required, but only keep her confined for a week or two (the horror!) and it will probably self-correct. After all, she was able to walk on it during the day yesterday, just not load it by running or jumping. Maybe it’s just a hip muscle bruise. Maybe…

She’s only two, and not overweight, so the kinds of hip issues seen in larger, older dogs seems less likely. The more probable outcome from my observations, when the vet examines her first thing this morning, is a knee injury. A torn ACL maybe.

So the wee hours were filled with scenarios of how human affairs will be reordered over the next day, days, nights and weeks. If next week’s demands were not such as they are, I’d have elected to give this a few days to see if she recovered on her own. We need more immediate and definitive answers, and there’s a weekend looming. So we left her last night and she’ll be first on the docket this morning before the day’s scheduled vet surgeries begin.

The way she flies up and down these hillsides with reckless abandon has been a vicarious joy for two old souls who do well to walk the level path. My greatest angst is the thought that she may have run her last victory lap around the pasture for a long, long time.

It’s a sad and deflating situation, as that dog’s impediments diminish her two human admirers more than they care to admit. She has been our representative of tireless, boundless victories over gravity. When she runs, we get belly rushes. You know what I mean? Will she be, from now on, leashed forever? We would feel her chains.

Image “art” by MySketch iPhone app from a photo by the blogger.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I a so sorry to hear this Fred. Jay busted his cruciate ligament twice. The first time he went lame. We put him on an anti inflammatory. He felt no pain and the really messed it up. We then had him have knee surgery. It took 2 more years for him to recover. He then did in the other knee. We had him on a lead for 6 weeks and he was fine.

    Every dog is different but my tale away was that we did Jay no favours by resorting to medicine.

    Best wishes whatever – your old dog pal – Rob

  2. Poor Gandy! I hope it turns out to be nothing serious. Even if it is a torn ACL, that doesn’t mean that Gandy’s days of running with reckless abandon are over, though. I have known several agility dogs who have had ACL injuries and with dedicated owners have been able to return to full activity. I can recommend a local canine rehab vet who can help you get Gandy back in action once she heals up a little!

  3. I am sorry to read about Gandy’s leg problem and hope it is an injury rather than a long-term condition. Buck and I lost our Maggie (chocolate Lab) two years ago at 13. We long for another pup or two, but don’t know if our hearts can take it.

    It’s good to reconnect with an old blog friend, Fred.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear about Gandy’s health problems. Our dogchildren bring so much joy to our lives and it hurts to see them in pain. I hope whatever is easily rectified and Gandy will be running the fields in no time.

  5. Both our Lab and our beagle have had ACL surgery: it’s a common injury in “active” dogs. It’s pricey but it WORKS, so even the worst-case scenario is treatable.

    Good luck to you, and feel better, Gandy!

  6. I have been semi-lame for 10 months, due to a bone spur and Achilles tendonitis, so I can really empathize with Gandy and I hope she will soon be back to normal.

  7. When our dog Scruffy was two, he ran at full tilt up a huge sand dune, and did some permanent damage to his back. He never ran like the wind again. he’s 10 now, and still can do short sprints, medium trots and long walks. We greatly regretted his slow down, but he has been the right speed to be our companion, at 70 and 77!

  8. Sorry Gandy’s got a hitch in her get-a-long. It seems with our current pack of three somebody’s always got an issue of one sort or another. It’s hard to rest just one in a three-pack too!
    ps That “sketch” is lovely! I thought at first you were holding back in the drawing dept.

  9. I would venture to say that you didn’t see Gandy’s last victory lap. Given the right treatment she should be able to run again! I became well-versed in the whole “ACL” business when my dog tore his. I went the conservative route with a knee brace from Woundwear. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re interested in a less invasive approach. Good luck! Long Run Gandy! 😉

  10. Turns out, after dire predictions by the vet (who showed us what did look like bony changes already in this young dog, plus knee caps that are not well-seated in the patellar groove—we have not seen the first limping since we brought her home (and kept her leashed for a week.) Now she is running full speed and I have not seen any issues at all.