So the training started and it was time consuming and exhausting and 100% WORTH IT ALL THE WAY to have two lovely socialised dogs who were so adorably well behaved. But we started noticing that where Linka would jump things and try to see on top of the barbecue, Bosco was climbing things and waiting for Linka to tell him what was up high. His back legs didn't seem to be as effective as hers. He'd limp after fetch-already his favourite thing.
So we went to vets and they told us it was likely a sprain, and gave him some anti inflammatories. Then when it happened again they said and did the same. I started researching into causes of lameness, but was told he was too young for hip dysplasia, it doesn't present in dogs this young etc. Just to keep him on the pain relief and not let him do too much exercise. Of course he wasn't doing too much, he was still a puppy! We weren't running yet, we were only walking around the block. So next time it happened, we went to different vets, who also said and did the same. I started researching local vets who specialised in hip dysplasia because we weren't getting answers, and I didn't want him on anti-inflammatories forever, I know what they do over time to the stomach lining.
I found a vet who sedated him and took x-rays...it was hip dysplasia. And I cried and cried because after my research, I knew this was going to be a long bumpy road filled with unhappy times for my little boy dog. I found the vet who was the Perth expert at the time in hip dysplasia. He explained Bosco would likely be in a wheelchair by the age of five and I'd have to make decisions between his quality of life and his length of life.
He was too old for the first option for surgery - I was told if I'd brought him in months ago they could have done more - yes, I was furious. He had one operation where they shaved his femoral bones to make them sit differently in the socket. Another where they cut muscles to change the way they pulled on the bones. ANOTHER where they cut muscles to change how he weight bears. The last was stem cell therapy to see if the cells would regenerate in the hips-they didn't. FOUR SURGERIES AND NOT EVEN 18 MONTHS OLD!!! He was missing out on so much socialisation due to bed rest, and these were his formative years. His sister was getting jealous of being crated and of his meds. I had to give her water through a syringe every time I gave him meds to stop her from being so jealous!!!
And the worst thing? The surgeries didn't work on him. There was no therapeutic benefit. I have no doubt they work for some, but none of them worked for my Bosco. I couldn't afford the $8000 hip replacement surgery, what else was I going to do?
I was told not to let him play fetch (his favourite thing in the world), not to let him walk on soft sand (he loves the beach), not to take him for too many walks, I was being told not to exercise this dog who was built for running all day. I chose high energy dogs to run with, and was being told he couldn't do dog things. We got him a wheelchair for the long walks, and I let him play fetch for a few minutes every second day-because I could not take being a dog away from him. What is life if you can't do anything you love? I kept researching.
We tried physiotherapy-first time I've ever seen him growl at someone, and there was no improvement, no change at all. We tried chiropractic work. He was screaming as he was being twisted around, and the chiropractor said that was normal. He limped for a week afterwards. We tried massage, no change for better or worse. I'm sure these things work for some animals, but we had no improvement.
I had found some exercises online to strengthen the hind legs, working on the muscles instead of relying on the hip joints. There was minor improvement. I learnt about the importance of walking on different surfaces to improve different muscles. Cool. Made sense. I learnt about acupressure and tried some moves on him, but that led to him tearing around like a little monster and limping WORSE afterwards, I wasn't willing to keep up with that! These were minor improvements to his life, and I wanted more.
I saw an advert for Bowen therapy on dogs and I thought "Well, I'll try the weird stuff I've never heard of, can't make things worse." And afterwards he was limping terribly and I secretly hated them, but afterwards he was running around with his sister DOING DOG THINGS. We had found our magic feather 🙂