August 17, 2011

Rollercoaster Monday

So, I've got good news and bad news about Kane.

We'll go with the god news first because it's short and so amazingly awesome.

Kane has his CGC!!!

Yes, you read right! My bonehead puppy passed his test last night with flying colors. The AKC representative even wrote: "Awesome job! Great ambassador!" on his sheet. He got a super-cool CGC bandana; all I have to do is send in the form and the fee, and the AKC will send me his official CGC document in a frame. He's now known as Kane Denator Puppers, CGC.

Today, I took him outside and tried to get some nice photos of him showing off his bandana. Unfortunately, even though he has his CGC, he couldn't resist the allure of deer poo in the backyard. Just pretend the brown smudges aren't there. ;-)

Kane doesn't know what all the fuss is about.

It took only two good rolls in the deer poo to get his bandana to that level of dirtiness.
My stupid, delightful, doggy boy.

Kane decides eating grass is preferable to this photo shoot.

Kane is still not impressed.

Was that a squirrel? Lemme chase it, lemme chase it!

It's sitting right there! Staring at me. Taunting me!
Lemme go teach it a lesson. Please??

Oh, jeez, mom. Now it's up the tree!
You let it get away!

It's so hard being a Super Star. Just ask Kane.

Notice how is left rear leg is cocked underneath him
and his right rear leg is stretched out to the side?
Bad news time.
So, for the bad news.

Earlier yesterday, I took Kane in for what I thought was going to be a quick and easy vet appointment. He has a bump on his front right paw that I thought was a histiocytoma (although Kane's is nowhere near as bad as the one pictured on that webpage). Dr M examined the spot, told me to soak his paw in Epsom salts twice a day, wrote a script for an antibiotic, and then asked me about his limp.

And then from there ... it grew into something so much larger and terrifying than I ever thought.

Kane has had an on and off again limp since late April. It would get better with strict crate rest, and then it would pop up again two or three days later. I didn't think anything of it. Turns out he has a partial cruciate ligament tear in his right rear knee. More commonly known as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tear.

Dr M had Kane do some Sits and Downs for her. Each of those times, his right leg was stretched out to the side. She 'hmmm'-ed and then had him lay down on his side so she could manipulate the leg. She felt some swelling in the knee as well as grade 1 "drawer movement". Basically, what it means is that instead of his knee moving only in a hinge movement, it's moving forwards and backwards across the joint like a drawer. An uninjured CCL prevents that sort of drawer movement, keeping things nice and tight. Grade 4 drawer movement is usually indicative of a complete tear.

She thinks his grade 1 movement shows that he has a partial tear, but it's never a 100% guaranteed diagnosis because she's had a dog with grade 1 drawer movement get into surgery and have a complete tear.

Dr M wants me to get Kane in to see a specialist as soon as possible. Even waiting 2 months can be detrimental at this point, because this CCL tear has likely been going on since April. (She'd initially diagnosed his lameness as a pulled muscle since she couldn't feel any swelling or drawer movement in his knee, and she was hoping for the less serious injury.) Unfortunately, with a partial CCL tear, the longer it goes on, the worse it gets. The frayed ends of the ligament end up rubbing against the cartilage in the knee and wearing it down, causing arthritis; and usually the end result of a partial tear, if left unresolved, is a complete tear. At this point, she said he is guaranteed to have some arthritis in his knee when he gets into his senior years (usually around 8+ for pit bulls).

There are different kinds of surgery available to repair the CCL. One is known as an extracapsular imbrication; this is the traditional form of surgery, but, unfortunately, even though Dr M can do it and it would be so much cheaper, it is now (usually) reserved for those dogs who are under 25lbs and/or are senior and/or have a low energy level.

Kane is none of those things. Even though he is no longer willing or able to use his right rear leg and is thus hobbling around on three legs, he is still bursting with energy and sometimes it gets the better of him. I still have to prevent him from doing zoomies around the yard, I still have to hide his chuck-it ball so he doesn't pester me with it, and I still have to keep him from launching off the porch on his potty breaks.

Our other options are either a TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) or a TTA (tibial tuberosity advancement). These surgeries are basically the same; they focus on changing the angle of the tibia and how the femur meets it, and using a bone plate to stabilize the bone's new position. However, the TTA is a more recent (~2004) variation of the TPLO and cuts through a different part of the tibia. It's less invasive, and thus has less of a recovery time, and is also usually cheaper. TPLO/TTA surgeries restore mobility to ~97% after recovery, versus ~93% for the extracapsular imbrication.

The only problem is the cost. Dr M referred me to MSU veterinary school and they quoted me an estimate of $2600-$3300.

Yes. That thump you heard was me hitting the floor in a dead-faint.

Based on my research, that seems a little high (as most estimates I've seen are more in the $1500-$2500 range for a TPLO), but I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that estimate either (what they're including, etc, that I could potentially cut out or have Dr M do at her practice to save money [bloodwork, etc]). I have a consultation set up with MSU on the 25th of this month at 830am to discuss our options.

However things work out, he will either have the TPLO/TTA surgery done or his leg taken off if it's cheaper. I know Kane and he won't care whether he has that leg or not. He'll still be my wild and crazy puppers, careening around like a madman. Of course, if he does end up a tripod, there will go my dreams of titling him in Rally or Obedience. Or trying out dock diving with him.

Someone said to me that "a bullet is cheaper", when I told them about the cost of Kane's potential surgery. I wish I'd been able to punch them in the face. Who the heck says that sort of thing? Really?


  1. Poor Kane! Way to go on the CGC though, he's such a fantastic boy.

    I probably would have punched the moron who said that, that's so horrible. ):

  2. Congrats on passing the CGC Kane :) Give him a hug for me.

    On the leg problems. I hope everything goes well. Even if he does have to loose a leg i'm sure he'll be fine. Most animals don't even care about/notice that sort of thing.