It's been about a month since our last rehab post. I reread the last post and am so pleased to see all the things that have improved.
Jazz now walks with a very slight limp. He willingly sits although the left leg sticks out to the side a little. He runs, climbs stairs and jumps 16" agility jumps. He seems happy and comfortable. We had our final recheck and the bone is healing well. The vet said she was able to "really crank the knee" and get no indication of pain. He has arthritis, but she said it is not nearly as bad as many she has seen. She cleared him to begin the last phase of rehab, which is to build up to complete freedom of activity.
I still worry about some things. He has that slight limp and I worry that it will not go away. The vet is not willing to commit to any answer - maybe it will go away, maybe not. He still sits a little crooked and she said he may always sit that way. The one that bothers me most at the moment is that he will not stand on four legs. When he stands still, he is constantly touching the floor with the left foot and then picking it up again. The vet was concerned, but unable to find anything that caused him pain. She is puzzled. I suspect that it is more mental than physical with him, but I hate to assume he is not in pain and find out I'm wrong. He seems comfortable raising the right leg and standing on the injured one if he wants to mark something. (I really recommend walking a boy dog so that he has to lift the good leg to mark - great way to get some easy leg strengthening!) I am now rocking him a little in the rear so he gently has to put weight on that leg and I am having him lift the right leg a few seconds at a time. He seems to stand on all four legs when he is really interested in something or trying to "dig in" so I can't pull him away from something when I'm walking him. We will see how it goes.
We are cleared to do everything that Jazz is willing to do except the extreme play favored by Jazz and Coach. We will wait another four weeks before they are free to stand on their back legs and wrestle like polar bears! We went to agility practice Thursday night and Jazz got to actually do agility. I set the jumps at 12" and he was really cute. He was so happy. I even got two rear crosses from him. We have never done rear crosses before! He seems to have a little trouble with tunnels - he has to crouch a little to go through them so I think it may be uncomfortable for him, but he was happy to give it a try. He is also going up and down stairs again. He was pretty stiff on Friday, but this is the first time in about two weeks that he has raised his level of activity enough to be a little stiff.
He is not completely free of pain and he is pretty protective of that leg. I think he needs to build confidence as well as strength. The left leg seems to be about 80 percent the size of the right leg, so we need to continue to build muscle. I am so anxious to be able to enter an agility trial before January, but we will see how he does. The strangest side effect of this injury is his obedience skills. He is heeling as if it is the most fun he has ever had! I did quite a bit of obedience training while he was recovering because it made him feel confident and happy to be participating in training with me. (The rehab booklet specifically recommended figure eights.) I never realized how much he enjoys the interaction that training provides. He loves learning things and practicing things as long as I praise him and he gets treats. He does not want to be left out of anything.
This answers a question that was bothering me. I wondered if I should stop doing obedience with him because he didn't enjoy it. He doesn't differentiate between obedience and agility in the way that I do. He really seems to be happy doing anything that we can do together as long as it is a positive experience. I am beginning to really understand and enjoy obedience and I think he will too. I just need to be sure we're both comfortable and having fun.
Thanks to everyone for the good wishes. I sympathize with others that have or will go through this process.