Of Siberian Huskies and Underwater Treadmill Therapy (pictures).
Big news today: The Siberian Husky has bolted back into action. Here’s some backstory.
Fritz, our Siberian Husky (from hereon just “husky”), blew out a dog’s version of an ACL at the end of November. He and I were in the backyard doing wind sprints after I’d raked leaves. As he rounded a corner I heard but the thinnest of yelps before I saw him go down. Fritz pawed himself up but favored his back hind leg, holding it close to his body. Now, I had adopted him—Jennifer had him for eight years before we met—and while I hadn’t been a dog owner for years, I did grow up with dogs; when I heard the yelp, I knew it was out of the ordinary.
Fritz tucked his tail between his legs, which concerned me. Our vet later told us this was a sign the poor guy felt pain. We took him to a surgeon who said he could perform a TPLO surgical procedure, and with some hard work and luck, Fritz would regain full mobility.
I know: An expensive surgery for a 10-year-old dog, you ask? Well, yes, we did. And we did so for many reasons—the most important being care and love—but also because, from an objective perspective, he’s in great shape and has several good years ahead. Fritz, like all husky’s, is about energy and movement. If we can give him that, we will. And we have.
After the surgery, we took him through intensive rehabilitative care. Part of his rehab included underwater treadmill therapy. Here’s a pic:
Alongside the water therapy (hydrotherapy?), we also engaged active PROM, which means “passive range of motion”. This means Jennifer and I at least four times per day messaged Fritz’s leg as well as performed various range-of-motion stretches to ease him back into play. For the first month, we also got up (“we” means me from about 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Jennifer took the early morning shifts) to take him on on-leash walks through the backyard. The concern was if he saw a critter he might bolt for it, which would re-injure the leg.
Over the past two weeks Fritz has shown marked improvement. He’s been running. He has not been favoring the leg. I’ve been able to play with him—our play involves active rough housing. We even caught him sitting outside in the snow. You must know this is probably the healthiest sign to-date: He loves sitting outside in the freezing cold watching everything pass by.
Today after work, though, we went for a healthy jog around the neighborhood. Fritz seemed rather sprightly when we returned, so I lifted the gate on his dog door, and he bolted through. Never seen a happier dog. He bounded outside to roaring howls, surely an announcement of his arrival as well as recognition of his independence. Later he plowed back through his door. We’re so excited for this, not because we don’t have to let him in and out anymore but because he’s regained his independence, a characteristic essential to his personality.