Saturday, January 10, 2009

More guardian challenges

If you've been following us on Twitter, either through the sidebar on the left of my blog or through my Twitter page, you already know that Sovalye, our Anatolian shepherd, has been diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee. He started walking on three legs earlier this week, then appeared better, then started limping, so I got an appointment for first thing Friday morning.

I took him to the vet clinic where Addy's cancer was diagnosed last spring after we wasted several weeks with the local vet. It was a good decision. The diagnosis was quick, and one of the vets there is experienced in the surgical repair. The vet we saw (not the surgeon) suggested that we wait a week to see if he improves. Sovalye is in the barn and taking an anti-inflammatory drug that is also a pain killer. If the ligament is only partially torn, he should improve within a week. If he doesn't improve, it probably means it's completely torn. Of course, he is out of commission as a guardian, so something has to be done. From what I read on this website, he will get arthritis quickly if the ligament is not repaired. Having arthritis myself, I certainly don't want that to happen to our faithful guardian.

Sovalye was such a sweetheart at the clinic. Everyone there was cooing over this huge dog! And when the vet was squeezing and moving his knee, he just whined pitifully.

I'm glad we have the llamas to take care of things while Sovalye is not able to work. Poor boy certainly wants to keep working, but running around on that leg will just make it worse. The vet compared him to a professional athlete, but said that Sovalye works 24/7. I'm glad he understands what a tough and important job Sovalye has!

Speaking of Twitter . . . I'll be announcing the baby goat births through Twitter almost as soon as they happen, so you can keep up to date on the new kids. And I am once again hoping to videotape a normal goat birth for the blog. Last year my efforts were thwarted when two kids tried to be born at once!


MaskedMan said...

Tough pooch - Ouchy injury. Do keep him mentally active whilst he's layed up. Guardian dogs aren't just physical atheletes; they're used to using their minds, too. Mental stimulation will help keep boredom (and undesirable behavior) at bay whilst he's recuperating.

Deborah said...

MM -- Any suggestions on how to keep him mentally occupied? He is not happy. He tries to get out every time we open the door, and he's not happy about taking his medicine. He clamps his jaws shut and plops down.

If anyone has any suggestions for how to care for Sovalye, please share!

MaskedMan said...

How food driven is he? If he's food driven at all, there are a number of low-impact games that can be played in the house. Ditto if he's toy-driven.

The first and easiest, if to put a treat under a basket or box - He's got to figure out how to get to the treat. Most dogs will master this pretty fast. From there, shift to 'shell game' - get serveral shoe boxes and put the treat under one of the boxes - let him figure out where it went! Upgrade from that is to only let him have the treat if he nails it on the first try; if he misses, shuffle the boxes and let him try again. You play 'hide-n-seek,' too - It's a great way to work on his 'down-stay.' Put him in a down-stay, leave the room, and call him. Once he gets the idea, start hiding - making the hides more and more difficult. Or you can do the same, but have him find a treat, instead.

All those games can be played with a favorite toy, too.

If he's not terribly food-focused, you can make up a batch of StinkyKibble(tm); Regular kibble (or finely-diced raw meat, if he's raw-fed) placed in a bag with grated or crumbled smelly cheese, a bit of anchovy oil, and some garlic powder - store it in a resealable bag, and keep it in the reefer. After a few days, it'll smell like hell; dogs love it. Substitute StinkyKibble one-for-one with his regular daily food intake (i.e. if he normally eats two and half cups of regular kibble, you can replace a half-cup with an equal amount of StinkyKibble), so he doesn't wind up over-eating.

Also, if you're strong enough, and he's sufficiently well-trained on-lead, do take him for controlled walks outside. If he won't heel, or at least stay close without lunging, then don't do that - Lunging can exacerbate his injury.

Deborah said...

Thanks for the suggestions!


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