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January 16, 2009

Lilly somehow suffered what we believe to be a hip injury sometime late Monday. We have no idea how it happened, but suddenly after dinner she could not sit or lay down without crying in pain. And, that’s saying something for my super-tough mountain girl who never whines or yipes. Even after the rattlesnake bite to the lip, she did not cry. So, this week’s update is a mishmash.

Lilly’s Boo-Boo Hip
It took some hands-on Dr. Mommy examination of her left side to isolate her pain in an area I’d call her “butt dimple,” that divet between the back muscles and leg muscles on the hip joint. I always knew she was left side dominant (spins to the left, sits side-saddle to the left), but I didn’t realize how much until I watched her try again and again to sit or lay down. It was so bad Monday night that the only way I could get her to lay down was to clasp her side-to-side against my chest, then flop over on to the bed with her on top of me. Then, I’d slide out from underneath her, leaving her flat on her right side.

We’ve instituted as much rest as she’ll tolerate, along with pain meds (left over from the snakebite), massage, stretching, icing, etc. She’s doing much better. She can sit straight back in a formal sit without visible pain. She can lay down to either side. She’s walking a bit stiff, but otherwise fine. She seems to enjoy extending her leg, like when she puts her front feet on something and stands straight up. If we massage her leg muscles in this position, she smiles like crazy and wags her tail. But, she can easily pull the leg into a tucked position while laying down. I still haven’t seen her curl up like a Pill Bug, but at least she’s resting comfortably.

I’m assuming it’s a fluke, muscle pull or something. If she still has pain next week, then we’ll be off to the veterinarian for x-rays and such.

At-Home Training News Items

If the foot is a’stomping, don’t bother barking.
Lilly managed to lure the wayward goat up to the fence late last week. She even stuck her head through to get a better sniff. I kept an eye on her while hanging out clothes, and it seemed to be going well. The horses were visiting with the mules next door over the fence. Lilly was being sweet to the goat. Then, she decided it would be funny to bark. I suspect she just got over-excited by the goat, but it did NOT like being barked at. So, it stomped its front feet.

Even I know that’s not a good sign, so I called her off pronto and had to come to me for treats. The last thing we need is Lilly getting a head butt from a grumpy goat.

Lilly meets tiny dogs
Our next-door neighbors have friends staying with them as part of a move from California to Colorado. And, they brought their small dogs. Max and Gus-Gus are Jack Russell Terrier + Italian Greyhound mixes. Technically, they are half brothers — same mom, different dads … which tells me this must be some new “Designer Breed,” rather than dogs from an Oops Litter. Max is a young adult. Gus-Gus is four months old.

I’m no fan of Designer Breeds, but I have to admit these little guys are CUTE. They are colored and basically shaped like Jack Russells, but they are lanky. I would totally post a photo, but I’ve just met these people, and I’m sure I’d come across like a Goof, if I asked them to send me a photo or tried to snap one myself.

Lilly seems quite enamored with them. She’ll sit or stand at the fence and watch them, quietly. Yep … quietly … as long as I’m not around. But, if I go over to fuss on them, or talk to their parents, she turns into the barking machine. So, unless I have food on my person, I let her watch them alone. (Even Ginko hung out and happily watched them through the fence yesterday.)

The advent of these little guys next door made me realize something. Lilly rarely sees small dogs. In nearly all of our classes, she is pretty much the smallest dog there.

Way back, when we still took agility lessons, before things went south, there was a young Australian Terrier named Tilly that Lilly was VERY fond of. We actually used Tilly as a “reward” after Lilly ran a sequence. We also trained for a while with a baby Puli and a young Lowland Sheepdog that Lilly liked quite a bit, but that was at least 2 years ago.

Since then, it’s usually Lilly and a bunch of labs, goldens, German shepherds and one big Malamute. She’d be big for a Small Dog Class, and she’s small-ish for a Big Dog Class, but since she doesn’t really interact with the other dogs, it doesn’t matter.

If these people stay for a while, and if they seem open to it, I might ask if they want to walk the dogs on leash together. I think it might be fun for Lilly to spend time in a controlled way with some little sweeties.

Off-Leash Walking Update

Our friend, KB over at Romping and Rolling in the Rockies (a blog about mountain biking with dogs, nature, and life) suggested in a comment to our Weekly Training Update from last week that I try a tab leash in Lilly’s transition to more off-leash walking/hiking.

The good news is that I already had one in the drawer. I bought it ages ago, but never used it much. I like how easy it is for Lilly to wear the light leather strip. I also like how leather feels in the hand compared to nylon. And, as KB noted, the knot gives you something to hang on to. I got mine through J&J Dog Supplies several years ago.

I cannot find this exact one online or in the catalog, but here are a couple new options:

1) A braided version
2) a looped version

But, I like mine better. It’s simpler and shorter.

So, while on a walk over the weekend, I made sure dog distractions were low and traffic non-existent before unclipping her regular leash and putting this pull-tab leash on. And, like last time, I just kept walking.

Lilly was phenomenal. She stayed right by my side. I always put myself between her and traffic, so that means on the left on the way out and on the right on my way back. I call this putting her to the inside (of me), but Tom and I got in this crazy Who’s-on-First discussion because to him that’s putting her to the outside (of the road).

Anyway, due to cold and wind, we only went about half distance (about a mile and a half), but she walked the entire way with this tiny leash attached and me NOT holding on to it.

The only time she broke out ahead of me was when we neared our driveway. She sped around our mailbox and down to our gate without me, which was fine. I knew she was safe. She knew where she was going.

So, that’s pretty much it for this week. Think good hip healing thoughts for Lilly.


About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Thanks. She walked for 45 minutes today (Sunday) and doesn’t seem in any pain, so that’s good. I’m still giving her at least another week “off” from any serious, wild-girl playing (fetch, etc.)

    If I ever see a tab leash anywhere, I’ll holler.

    Agreed. There’s a fine line between waiting and not waiting on these kinds of injuries. When Ginko blew both knees when he was 3, we waited and waited and waited because it would seem to get better, then worse, then better again. I’ll have to write about that someday. We have some great photos from the “scope” of what the insides of his knees looked like.

  2. I like your leash tab much more than mine. I wish it were still available!

    I’m not surprised that Lilly is doing so well with being off leash. She’s an extremely well trained dog. I’m always so impressed when I see her in class.

    Those little dogs might be great for Lilly to meet. I hope that works out!

    I’m sending hip-healing vibes Lilly’s way. I usually take exactly the same approach as you — wait and see for a little while so that an injury has time to get better on it’s own. With R’s elbow dysplasia, however, we also learned from the vet orthopedist that it was good that we didn’t wait too long because the joint cartilage would’ve been more damaged during the interim.

    The message that he was preaching was that a happy medium between rushing to the vet and watching (while resting your dog) is best. Sounds like what you’re doing.

  3. Ice is a likely culprit, or even deep snow. She’s small enough that she can often walk on top of packed snow drifts, but sometimes, one leg will pop through the snow and sink, which seems like an easy way to over-extend the hip. We just don’t know. It’s not like she came up crying after being outside or while we were playing.

    We haven’t seen the goat the last few days, or the one horse it seems most bonded to. The others are out back grazing right now, but no goat. Maybe she really was pregnant and had her kid?

  4. Ow! Poor baby! Is it possible that she slipped on the snow or ice? Dinah did this last week–her back legs just slipped right out from under her like Thumper on the ice, but she was okay within a short time. Sending healing thoughts Lilly’s way.

    Can’t wait to hear more about Lilly and the goat, too.

  5. Feel better Lilly!
    I don’t know if it’s the same thing, but my friend’s Shepherd had this happen while jumping/running for a ball. Took a while to heal. I hope she has a speedy recovery.

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