BOO – A GREAT STORY FOR CRUFTS!
Over the time I have been writing I have discussed how inappropriate exercise can really have a negative effect on your dog’s health and performance; also how our everyday environment and incorrect exercise can impact negatively on your dog’s health. However, correct exercise and a cohesive ‘canine team’ can have amazing effects on every dog and can be the essential positive ingredient influencing such debilitating conditions as hip dysplasia. Read this heart-warming story about Boo the delightful Border collie and her journey.
Boo, was discovered to have profound hip dysplasia at nine months 0f age. Initially Sharan her handler had her suspicions by observations of her movement. Quite rightly, Sharan Wicks, an educated handler had prevented Boo from jumping or climbing or to be over-exercised when she was a puppy but with huge trepidation could tell that Boo ‘was not right’. Boo went in for x-rays and in October 2010 her prognosis was confirmed she had profound hip dysplasia (H.D).
Boo’s mother is a Crufts obedience champion and her father an agility champion so Boo was bred for competition and, like any good athlete possessed the mental attitude that is important for such a stimulating and full life. However, her body was dictating something different. What will her life be like if she cannot be exercised in a stimulating way that would fulfil her? She was put on anti-inflammatories and told to reduce her exercise; however her Vet Ivan Crotaz BVetMed, MRCVS, Head Vet at Harmans Water, Kynoch Veterinary Group in Bracknell also suggested she went to the Galen Therapy Centre for Myotherapy as he had seen some amazing results with gun dogs being able to working soundly with extreme skeletal issues, including hip dysplasia .
Sharan brought Boo to see me and I could immediately tell that her muscle tone was conducive with that of a hip dysplastic dog (n.b. H.D. presents with some very specific and recognisable muscle changes that would indicate a minor or major problem within the joint). This was treated but the additional way forward with HD are exercises that are prescriptive and designed to stimulate the deep muscles to support the joints. This had been really successful in 2006 when I worked with Dexter the German Shepherd whose hip score was 96 and his handler Jessica, who won the Kennel Club Young Handler Obedience Elementary Class.
As with Dexter, this was going to be a long journey and no quick fix but Sharan recognised that there was a great team to assist: Galen Myotherapy and Galen Natural Progression, her Vet, Ivan Crotaz, her trainer Di Martin (Crufts Obedience champion) and Di’s recently built hydrotherapy centre, Therapaws in Bracknell. All these components were going to prove vital to Boo’s healthy future and success.
After the visit to Galen Therapy Centre, Boo came to see me and Liz Pope at Galen Natural Progression for a session in gentle but directed natural exercise. Boo could not perform even the easiest of exercises which demonstrated how much of an impact HD was having. She continued with an intense yet gentle program of exercises and incorporated specific hydrotherapy that worked with the exercises, all the time with Veterinary care overseeing the program and integrating with joint health promoting injections, all of which combined to help Boo.
All the good advice and therapy given in these situations is all very well but it then has to be executed and this is when the hard work really begins. During this time Sharan was supported by the patience and dedication of Di Martin her trainer, without her support at this time Boo’s story could have had a very different end. They both worked tirelessly, gently encouraging and asking Boo to do exercises that were (a) hard for her to do (b) boring because they were slow gentle and not fast and exciting for the ‘athlete’ within and (c) had to been done regularly.
Six weeks on Boo revisits Galen where she has a muscle balance assessment. Her muscles have changed so overwhelmingly that she does not feel like the same dog. There were many tears at this point! She could now do the basic exercises so her prescriptive regime is gently increased to further develop her deep supporting muscles within her hip joints: again the exercises were slow and again very difficult.
From October 2010 to April 2011 – in six months Boo is beginning to move like a different dog. The work continues. Through the summer of 2011 Boo continues her regime and improves, along with Veterinary support, GNP Canine Exercise Physiology, Myotherapy and regular hydrotherapy.
August 2011 she is strong enough to start some intensive but careful competitive obedience training –it is so successful that she enters a show in September and wins! She then she goes for trials for selection for the Crufts and the Southern Inter-Regional Obedience team; she is chosen from many dogs, which not only do not have any disabilities but also have been in training for much longer. Boo has qualified for Crufts!
Obedience is in my opinion the toughest disciplines for a dog to perform, as the stresses on their pelvic and lumbar regions is intense and only the fittest can succeed – Boo is not only fit but also her body has been able to absorb her training. For a dog with such a profound and quoted ‘life limiting’ condition this really is a fantastic story. It is a real team effort – Vet – Myotherapy – Canine Exercise Physiology – Hydrotherapy, expert training plus dedication and patience from Sharan and her trainer Di Martin who is a GNP Canine Exercise Physiologist.
Come and support Boo (Quietly!) on Thursday at Crufts, this is a truly amazing story and we at Galen and Galen Natural Progression are all supporting her. Everyone that competes at Crufts has worked tirelessly to achieve this, but for Boo, just 18 months ago this was not even on the horizon. Her case was diagnosed as a life limiting condition not as a potential Crufts competitor!
This is what her orthopaedic Vet said:
…………..Hip laxity was quite marked and the x-rays demonstrated established changes such as bilateral subluxation and early degenerative joint disease……… A multi-modal approach, with the inclusion of physio- and myotherapy has certainly influenced a positive outcome in this case. Philip G. Timm BVMS CertSAO MRCVS. KYNOCH VETERINARY GROUP, BRACKNELL.
JUST A LITTLE BIT OF CRUFTS ADVICE FOR ALL COMPETITORS
With all the time and effort that goes into competition, whatever type that may be, from the dynamic flyball and agility obedience or showing, the dogs need to have a chance for their muscles to function at their best, to demonstrate their best ‘action’ or provide their best times.
1. If your dog has been crated give them time to stretch out by allowing them to walk with a natural head carriage.
2. Give your dog a chance to oxygenate their blood as this helps their performance, so allow them time to move around without being restricted to the bench.
3. If pre-event grooming is required do not to leave them on the grooming table for long, as it is hard for any dog to stand still in an unnatural position for an extended time with (often) their head elevated.
All dogs need to be warmed-up before an event, to allow their bodies to unfold and give their muscles and joints a chance to function and provide the movement and performance you expect of them!
A warm up can be so simple, a gentle jog, a walk, a slightly faster jog then a good active walk (approx. 30 paces for each section). Then a couple of very gentle flexing exercises, ideally leading your dog in both hands, therefore encouraging gentle flexion.
I will be around over the whole of Crufts so do come over and have a chat!
COME AND MEET BOO ON THE GALEN THERAPY CENTRE STAND HALL 3 STAND 28A! Times will be dependent on her competition.
Contact details: Galen Therapy Centre and Galen Natural Progression www.galentherapycentre.co.uk. Tel: 0845