Once again I am writing about one of my own puppies.

Last Friday night, Safire was involved in a traumatic incident (for her and the humans) that resulted in her being unable to put her right hind leg on the ground. It was swinging under her body and poking out to the left side. She was still trying to beg and walk though. My gut knew what was wrong although I my brain was madly denying it.

A few hours later Safire had her hip relocated under general anaesthetic. Her hip had dislocated and was sitting up toward her back. Due to the quick response we were able to put it back in without surgery. Her little leg was placed in a sling to keep it in place. Unfortunately on Saturday morning, looking at her X-rays we realised that there was not much hope that it would remain in place without surgery. Safire had bilateral arthritic changes to her hip joint (aka hip dysplasia).

Once again I was hoping against hope that if we kept her quiet enough, left the sling in place long enough, and gave her enough cuddles that it would work. By Monday I knew it hadn't and we began making plans.

I talk people through these decisions on a daily basis. But this was my little princess and all rationality went out the window. It was three days of changing my mind, obsessing over the options and not sleeping much. I initially had two options: a femoral head osteotomy; or a total hip replacement. Neither were really what I wanted to be doing on my beautiful little girl who has never shown any pain in her hind end.

Thankfully, I had the option to talk to a number of specialist who put a third surgical option on the table, the toggle procedure. Typically this is not performed on dogs with HD because the forces on the implant can cause it to fail if there is not bony support as well. However, best we could tell from the X-rays, Safire had enough support there to give the toggle a chance of success. It was also a good place to start since it kept her own hip joint intact and does not rule out the other two procedures in the in the future if required. Dr Martin from the Sydney Animal Specialist Hospital did the surgery for me.

So here we are. Five days post surgery and Safire is only spending 30 minutes a day out of her crate. While the surgery went well her hip socket was not as deep as it looked in the x-rays, making the risk of failure much higher than we thought it would be going in. So we are actively managing that risk by keeping her contained and quiet, with a small amount of exercise to start building up the muscles she will need to keep the joint in place and support the toggle.

We have also been icing the area, to reduce swelling and providing her with pain management as required.

There have been many little lessons learnt in the past week. I will be recording Safire's journey and sharing what I learn as I go. She was raised well before I started my rehabilitation careeer and there are some things that I will be tweaking with how I raise future puppies. There are also some things that I have done exceptionally well (by luck and planning) so I will share them too. 

Dr Jaime Jackson