Friday, March 16, 2012

What happened to Kindle?


Last summer I noticed something just a little bit 'off' with my beloved Kindle.  Nothing overtly obvious, I could just tell her body wasn't in alignment with all of its parts.  She'd never been injured, that I was aware of, and she'd never had a lame day.  It was more an overall lack of full extension in the way she uses herself.

I decided to have her x-rayed.  On x-ray, we discovered compression between L6 and L7.  After extensive discussions with the vet, and the orthopedic specialist, we could not conclude the cause, but assume it was either birth trauma, or an injury.  If it was an injury, I was at a loss as to when it happened, though I can recall one incident when she was playing with her litter brother, and he jumped at/on her.  She got pissed, and snarked at him, but it looked as though it pissed her off more than hurt her.  I didn't really think more about it, other than noting just a few 'shake it off' steps that followed.  All was well...I thought.

I still can't conclude that's where the 'injury' took place, but there is just no other time I can remember anything else like that happening.  What we do know for sure, it was some form of an injury, we just can't pin-point when/where it happened.

On we went, and she appeared fine, none the worse for wear.  She was about 6 months of age.  It wasn't until she was about a year old I noticed this very slight 'off' in her.  I really don't know how to describe it, other than to say I just could tell she wasn't 100%.  She was damn close, but perhaps it's just something you know when you live with, and observe your dogs as closely as I do.  No one else saw it, just me.  I tried to convince myself I was just being paranoid, but I decided it was time for x-rays.  It was time for her hip preliminary x-rays, which were excellent, BTW, so why not just shoot the entire rear assembly.

This is when we found the aforementioned compression.  We got on the waiting list of the very highly recommended chiropractor/acupuncturist in our area, Dr. Leslie Griffith.  To say we love Dr. Leslie would be a gross understatement.  Treatments started about the first of October.

What we discovered is that Kindle, while maintaining very near to full function, had no feeling in her left hind leg.  None.  No cognitive reflex response.  Nothing.  She was just using the leg, because it was back there.

Several treatments would follow.  In mid-November, while showing her in the ring, she suddenly turned around, as though something had bitten her in the rear.  It really freaked her out, and me, too.  I thought, "oh, crap, here we go...the well known Sheltie meltdown."  Absolutely not what I would expect with this happy, solid and confident girl.  We came home from the show, and she was a mess.  She wouldn't settle, couldn't sit still, stress panted, and paced, constantly, for 24 hours.  By Monday morning, I was so upset, I called the vet.  We needed to do something for her.  What the hell was going on?

The regular vet couldn't get us in...I guess all the money we have spent there over the past 8 years really meant nothing, in terms of priority, but bless Dr. Leslie, she said, "get here as quick as you can, and I will see her."

Well, guess what?  The treatments were working.  The nerve compression was releasing, and feeling was returning to the leg.  It was simply a matter of Kindle feeling that "pins and needles" feeling that we all feel when our arm falls 'asleep', and begins to wake up.  In her case, it was the entire leg...the one she didn't know even existed.

It took another treatment, and some institutional medications, but we got her through that 'waking up' period.  Of course, I now had the challenge of helping her realize there weren't monsters behind her, looking to bite her butt at random.  It's not like I could explain to her what had happened.  I let Dr. Leslie do what she does best, and I worked on the psychological part.  I'm so glad I have so much experience with recovery following adversity, and I'm so thrilled I work so hard at building that into my puppies.  Without it, where would be be now?

Once she was through the major 'waking up' period, we slowly weaned her off the institutional medications, and we were back to the Chinese herb combination.

Progress has been slow, but it's been marked.  I asked Dr. Leslie if Kindle would ever be able to do agility, which was my plan for her, from very early on.  The short answer was "probably not".  I can't tell you how hard that was to hear.  I so wanted to prove this girl in both conformation, and performance, but my dream was now derailed.  But, Dr. Leslie added an "if" to her response.  If full feeling and full recovery could be achieved (and we were *so* close), and the opposite shoulder could be limbered up (from all that compensating it had done for nearly a year), there was a chance, albeit a very small chance.  Okay, that's all I needed...hope.

Kindle had also been released to work with a PT, and that would be my very good friend, Bobbie Lyons, of Pawsitive Performance in Portland, Oregon.  I met Bobbie, several years ago, when she came to my training school with her Border Collie, Stanley.  She had moved into canine conditioning and rehabilitation in the ensuing years.  I just knew she could help us, and I was right.

With Dr. Leslie's green light, we worked on PT with Bobbie.  I have been quite religious about Kindle's rehabilitation, and PT, and while it sometimes felt like two steps forward, and 1.99 steps back, progress was happening.

Yesterday was Kindle's monthly appointment with Dr. Leslie.  After all the months of treatments, and all the weeks of PT, we had a break-through.  She yelped when the acupuncture needle stimulated the nerve that had been compressed all that time.  While her leg had been slowly returning to full function, the stimulation wasn't complete...until yesterday!  While I feel horrible celebrating her pain, it means the leg is completely free of compression!!  This is what I had been dreaming of, praying for, and believing in - for months!

So, with hope, I asked the question I'd asked before - "will she be able to do agility?"  Dr. Leslie smiled and said, "I think so."

I can't tell you what that meant to me.  Yes, Kindle is "just a dog", but this little dog is my pride and joy.  She is my baby.  I love and adore her like I have only ever loved and adored one other dog, and that is my heart dog, Jet.

She still hasn't been released for the agility work, and it may be a few more months, but it's going to happen, and my baby is back to 100% sensation/reflex!  A late start in her training is far better than no start at all.  We must continue with re-training her body to use itself with balance, and we are making great progress, but the work is not done.  The nerve, however, is free!!

So, that is what happened to Kindle.


  1. Patricia RozenoffMarch 16, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    An incredible story, Leslie! Kindle is fortunate that you were so tuned in to notice what no one else did and that you sought out excellent care for her. Her future is promising!

  2. I had no idea you were going through so much with Kindle!! I am thrilled that her recover has been so positive!! She is such a beautiful girl!