No operation on the “off-chance”
Thea Dräyer from Lucerne went through a real ordeal, when her puppy 'Jalo' went lame. For starters, X-rays and scans were of no help at all in diagnosing the retriever mongrel’s problem, and only the use of motion analysis revealed the cause. But to add to her woes, Thea Dräyer’s colleagues showed a real lack of understanding. Maybe her experiences have been shared by other dog owners. prophylactic effect here.
By Marianne Mathys
"The worst moment was when I saw 'Jalo' on the day I went to collect him from the breeder, as I was absolutely certain that there was something wrong with him". Thea Dräyer from Lucerne took a deep breath before carrying on. "But 'Jalo' is, and remains our dog. I knew it from the first moment I saw him".
Thea Dräyer seems calm, but it is clear from her voice how upset she is, as she relives the whole tale of woe. "'Mailo', our previous retriever-cross, passed away last summer", she remembers. "My partner, Christian Javet, and I were of one mind: we had to get another dog to enrich our life, a dog with therapeutic qualities, like 'Mailo' had". They would have loved to have chosen a dog from the dogs’ home; an older dog that had already been trained. But like so often in life: things turned out differently than planned.
New love, new happiness
They found 'Jalo' on a farm: a long-haired golden retriever-cross - the only puppy of the litter that still had no taker. And he crawled out of the scurrying and tumbling puppy group and came straight towards them. "A sign!". Already then, he was bold and assertive, went his own way, and knew what he wanted. Thea Dräyer: "For us this was the perfect combination".
Suddenly the puppy was lame
"Twice we visited our 'Jalo'. Then we decided: we’ll take his brother 'Kento' too", explained Dräyer, recalling the wonderful image she had of the playfully tumbling, scuffling puppies. "When they were 10 weeks old, we went to collect them. 'Jalo' was the smallest of the litter, and should have probably been breast-fed for quite a bit longer, but the nine stronger siblings kept pushing him away".
Even though the farmer's wife was very careful, and the puppies had enjoyed the ideal upbringing, the siblings would jostle little 'Jalo' in their games, he would be rolled over, and although he tried to keep up, he often failed due to his lower body mass. "And because he was limping on this cold November 1st 2019, we decided to take the little one, with his black brother 'Kento', immediately, to give him a quieter environment".
Sent from pillar to post
Thus, the tale of woe began. For, in spite of a quiet home environment, 'Jalo', born on August 19, 2019, did not recover at all; quite the contrary, he became lamer and lamer. "At first, we put this down to a reaction to the vaccination, because the breeder had just had the whole litter vaccinated by her vet". But that soon turned out to be a false assumption.
A fresh consultation at the said veterinarian should get to the core of the lameness. He examined 'Jalo’s' musculoskeletal system, and took x-rays. Additionally, he consulted 3 other professional colleagues. Unfortunately, nothing which could explain the lameness came to light. Thea Dräyer was sent home again with a pack of painkillers, and best wishes for 'Jalo’s' full recovery.
Even the surgeon doesn't know what to do
More doubts were raised in the owners’ mind. "It simply can't be! There must be an explanation". Thea Dräyer booked an appointment with a surgeon. There 'Jalo' had to undergo several tests – but all to no avail. The specialist had only one more idea: let’s operate and have a look to see if we can find something. But in view of the puppies age, you should wait before doing this. In the meantime, he suggested a different painkiller, and recommended regular gentle movement, with no wild playing about. 'Jalo' could well grow out of the problem. Thea Dräyer’s feelings of helplessness and bafflement, were now joined by disappointment. An operation "on the off-chance" was out of the question for her. The risks in relation to the possible benefit seemed too great.
Brother 'Kento' as a Comparison
Once more Thea Dräyer felt uneasy: for 'Jalo' suddenly began hopping like a rabbit, or ambling along (front and back legs on the same side of the body moving forward simultaneously). "He simply could not trot normally", sighs Dräyer. A big advantage was that his brother 'Kento' was able to trot perfectly, which gave her a very good comparative.
The gaits of the two dogs were so completely different. For us it was clear: "It could not go on like this". A new investigation had to be made.
Focus on movement analysis
On 26 November 2019 the time had come. Thea Dräyer put 'Jalo' in her station wagon and drove from Lucerne to Frenkendorf. "Patrick Blättler recognized within 10 minutes, where the problem was", she said. "The subsequent radiology and gait analysis proved him right in every aspect: 'Jalo' has a shortened left hind leg, had 1.5 centimetres less muscle mass compared to the right hindquarters and suffered from a skewed pelvic axis".
Finally, a logical explanation for the lameness. Thea Dräyer felt hugely relieved. Due to the overstress and misloading of the joints, his knee and hip were severely inflamed. At long last, thanks to the correct diagnosis it was possible to start with a targeted therapy. "From that moment on, things started getting better".
Criticism from within
"We stuck rigidly to the precise training programme Patrick Blättler had given us". Although this was of paramount importance for 'Jalo’s' health, it was not always easy for the animal lover Dräyer. The rehab wasn’t just about the right nutrition, attitude and diagnosis. Special attention was paid also to the type and intensity of the exercise therapy. The prescription was: three weeks of walking uphill on a short leash. "That was extremely challenging", said Dräyer. "Free movement was strictly forbidden, even though we would have loved to let them tumble and play together". "'Jalo' would have been first to start!". It was a time-consuming and nerve–ordeal," says Dräyer looking back to the initial therapy period. "People looked at us very strangely when we only allowed 'Jalo' a very short controlled play-time with other puppies. We were taken to task by a number of dog owners and berated by dog trainers for being so strict with 'Jalo'. "They simply lacked the understanding for the length of the therapy."
At last the success we deserve
But the owners of 'Jalo' knew: "we are on the right track". Active supporting measures with Feldenkrais therapy and Pranic healing were provided by Katharina Mayer. "Just a week after the initial consultation with Patrick Blättler, the gait was much better, the muscles showed more elasticity and his joie-de-vivre had returned". Thea Dräyer: "'Jalo', the independent strategist right from the outset, has changed after a month of therapy, from a sorry limping little puppy into a fit and cheeky young dog, full of life and ready to take on the world. We will continue the therapy, until 'Jalo' matches his healthy brother 'Kento'".
Clearly visible: The shortened left hind leg.
Result: A shifted pelvic axis.
Dog owner Thea Dräyer with her retriever
mix puppy “Jalo”