The start of normality…

Raven on her 5 month birthday in the woods

I think it is safe to say over the last week life has been a bit more challenging. Raven is feeling fine. She is now 5 months old, she wants to run around, she is doing everything she can to try and get the others to play with her (they are all being so good and amazingly tolerant!) and you can see that though we do training with her, it isn’t enough. She has been trying to jump up more, she is jumping on the sofa when she can get away with it, she is just pushing everything. I suppose it’s about time, she has been an angel so far!

However today was the day we have been waiting what seems forever for. We got up this morning and Paul took the boys out, then I took Lily out and then we all bundled in the car to drive down to Dick Whites. I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch time yesterday, way too nervous!

There were a few reasons for the nerves, partly because I dreaded what the vet might say and partly because we were gearing up for a fight. I needed to know why she couldn’t do things, not what she could do really just what was it that was stopping her.

We arrived a bit early so we walked Raven around with Dill, then Mozi with Lily and I then went in and registered we were here before going back to the car. I decided very quickly it was too busy to wait in the waiting room with her, she is still spooking at people and dogs as it is and of course there are also the memories she had of this place. She was already being worse then she has been recently with woofing at people when walking her with Dill. Outside was just a safer option for her. We waited about 20 minutes before the vet was free – we had seen him wheeling a golden retriever out of the MRI building so we expected him to be a bit late. We had to go through reception to a room where we could let her walk around a bit. She was terrified of reception, too much it properly over loaded her. Chicken really helped.

Once we were in the room the vet was very keen to get her offlead so he could see her walking around, he then had a good feel of her back and her legs and then got a model of the bottom of the spine and a pelvis. He then showed us exactly what the spine could and couldn’t do, he showed us where he put the pins in her vertebrae and explained to us that she is doing very well. You could tell he was more relaxed with her but he still made a comment about how the only certain thing in life is that we will all die. He is such a cheery guy.

So the fact is there is still a lot we don’t know and may not ever know. He is hoping she won’t ever need any more surgery, that she will grow up and be fine. He has never had to readjust an implant in that area of the spine and so he is hoping she will be another one that is just fine. It will however depend entirely on how she grows, if she does something odd whilst growing then things might change but for now he is happy to just let her be.

This led to us wanting to know what she can then do because he was saying that we need to be careful for threeish months (roughly till May) and that she can have unrestricted exercise on lead. This is mostly because he doesn’t want her being let off and tearing about like a loon. So we will start walking her on a long line, it allows her more freedom and it allows us to do more recall training, which of course we haven’t been able to do for the last couple of months.

In his professional opinion, to give her the longest, healthiest life she shouldn’t ever be allowed to jump and shouldn’t ever be allowed to run – she can trot, just not gallop. This isn’t because of any weakness in her spine or the implant but because the vertebrae either side are going to be flexing more due to L5-L7 being cemented together. Due to them flexing more, it will wear and over time she will end up with arthritis and it could possibly cause other complications.

However, he is aware that she is a dog and that for some dogs they need more, so though as a professional he will say don’t do this, we know our dog and what she needs. He has had one patient with the same op as Raven go on and do agility, it was against his recommendation but they have gone and done it all the same. I don’t think I can do that. Agility puts a lot of pressure on a dogs spine, the weaves massively so and I wouldn’t put a dog through that with her injury. She could be fine, but I just can’t personally do that to her. Something like hoopers or similar might be a possibility though! Really everything else is doable, well maybe not working trials due to the jumping but most things are. I can do gundog work with her, we can run her in harness, if we want we can also breed her. We have the best hydrotherapists working with her and we trust them completely with her care and she will be seeing them even when she doesn’t ‘need’ to, so we will notice if there are any niggles.

We will see how things go, how she grows and develops but it was a massive relief to hear all that today. We have decisions to make as to what we believe is too much for her, whether we feel something is too much risk or not but we have always said that quality of life comes over length of life, so if she has a shorter life because she has a rich fulfilled life then so be it.