Fergus’s Story

Do Not Underestimate The Power of Muscles

We all like a good story for the new year but this is a great one! It all started back in September when I was called by a lady who was incredibly worried about her Leonburger puppy, Fergus. She was so worried about him as she felt that he was not displaying the correct physical developments for a puppy of his age.

The problems he was presenting were extreme, they included, finding it difficult to walk and wanting to lie down because he was becoming fatigued. He found it a struggle to stand from a sit, so he was dragging himself along on his backside to move from one place to another.  He was also sleeping so much of the time, more than what is expected for a puppy, was not interested in play, did not and could not get onto the furniture, was really picky with his food (he was on a varied diet) and just was not a normal puppy.

When she expressed her concerns to professionals and friends the main response was that it was probably normal for a growing puppy of his size. However, her concerns were supported by the breeder who also expressed her worries as she had not seen anything like it in any of her previous litters.

When Vanessa, Fergus’s owner contacted me, we had a discussion over the phone, the only key information we thought was relevant was that Fergus had a particularly difficult birth, as his mother got into severe difficulties and had to be given a lifesaving caesarean section.

The operation went well and the bitch survived and most of the puppies survived but it was an emergency and possibly something within this procedure created a problem for Fergus? Our worry of course that it was it something degenerative or genetic and therefore his prognosis would have been poor? And to be honest whatever it was, unless he received treatment very soon things were not looking good for his future mobility and joint health.

After our chat, Vanessa decided to bring Fergus along for a treatment as we felt it was worth a go and as always, review the treatment progress on a constant basis. Therefore, if there was any indication that he was not improving then we could consider alternative therapies.

This obviously adorable puppy arrived at the Galen clinic with his eyes were looked full of life and ‘puppiness’ but his body was like one of those toys we used to have when the button is pushed underneath figure, their legs collapse! The most distressing part was that as he was obviously a huge puppy and had so much growing to do, any physical issue within his development was going to have an exponential effect on his structure.  I felt he was a ‘ticking time bomb’ and if this was not going to have an effect we had to work quickly to find alternatives.

When I laid hands on him I was shocked by the muscle disruption especially for a puppy of his age; but of course he was having to drag a large weight so all issues were going to develop quicker and with more disastrous consequences than a smaller and lighter breed.   His neck had lost a high percentage of mobility and was heavily congested.   His lumbar region (lower back), was affected to the point where I actually felt optimistic that there would be an improvement because it was demonstrating a high level of negative change; but obviously, at this point, there was no way of knowing to what extent Fergus’s muscle dysfunction was having on the whole of his health or whether there was something underlying these problems.

Remembering that this dog is only 20 weeks, he receptiveness to the treatment was amazing, as with most dogs, he was guiding me to where he needed to work and was just a joy to work with.

During the treatment, my concerns that I shared with Vanessa, was that any large dog but especially a giant breed, around the 6 months’ time, their elbows can display issues and any excessive load from him dragging himself up from a sit or a down would inevitably exacerbate this potential issue. This was becoming a bit of a race against time and we were desperate to know if Myotherapy was going to help him to a sufficient degree that would offer him a good future!

After the treatment, he was in a sitting position and he got up straight away without dragging his bottom – Vanessa and I looked at each other with our mouths open! This was a positive start!

After the treatment, we discussed exercise requirements and this needed no changes as Vanessa is an informed owner but I showed her how to apply some techniques that I thought would continue to help Fergus.

Within a couple of days of the treatment, I received a picture of Fergus on the sofa at home. This is something that obviously is not often celebrated but in Vanessa’s home there was rejoicing, as this really demonstrated he was gaining some strength in his hind quarters.

Vanessa had also been taking video, before and after treatment and these videos exhibited that his legs and back were gaining integrity and almost as if he had a cord running through his body from head to tail and this was being drawn together and joining him up!

I have now seen Fergus three times and we are all so delighted that he is almost a ‘normal’ puppy; he is playing with toys and their other dogs, getting up on the furniture, being a cheeky puppy, can get up from a ‘sit’ easily, eating normally and well, loving his exercise and using his nose (this was encouraged to help him physically and psychologically) and was basically a bouncy puppy. All the muscular issues have apparently eased and there is just very, very slight restriction on range of movement with one of his hind legs.  Did I mention that I love my work!

When I saw Fergus just the other day, the greeting I got was off the scale and I was now looking at a handsome adolescent that I feel has a great future and is not projecting any lameness of stiffness or abnormal ‘wobbliness’!

I really do not know what we would have done if we had not found Galen and Julia, he could have been looking at a life of operations and pain but she has given Fergus a great future, what more can I say! Vanessa Leppard.


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