Paddington, our 8lb Morkie (Maltese/Yorkie mix) was a great puppy, a little shy at first, but very happy. She ran around the apartment and loved going outside, no matter what the weather (something I am very grateful for, even to this day!). From the beginning, we noticed that she didn’t ever try to jump up on the couch and never really liked stairs – which wasn’t a huge deal because we lived on the first floor and only had to go up about five steps to get outside. In hindsight, these two minor issues were red flags for her ailment.
We had had Paddington a year when I noticed something wasn’t right. She never complained, but began to hold her right hind leg up while she was standing still. Just a little at first, and then more and more. I called our vet, Mississippi Mills Veterinary Services in Pakenham, and moved up her yearly checkup to avoid going twice.
Before we went to the vet, I searched online for possible reasons as to why she was holding her leg up and found information about pricey surgeries and long recovery periods. With this is stopped researching and just hoped for the best.
As it turns out, our vet informed us that Paddington has something called Luxating Patellas in both of her back legs. Luxating Patellas mean that there is a problem with her kneecaps – basically, Patella means kneecap and Luxating refers to the fact that something is displaced or dislocated from the proper place. In the case of patellar luxation, the groove that the kneecap sits in is too shallow and the kneecap moves out of place easily. Some dogs with this condition can learn to click the patella back into place themselves, but others, like Paddington, require surgery to correct the problem.
The problem with Paddington’s knees were different for both legs. The right leg, the one that she was holding up, was worse than the other with the patella actually stuck out of the socket. The left leg, we were told, has a patella that freely moves back and forth and may be less of a concern. The vet told us that if we didn’t correct the problem, she could develop arthritis and may even be unable to walk without the surgery to repair her knee. The fact that Paddington has this ailment in BOTH knees means that there is a very high chance that there was bad breeding and that her parents had this too and passed it on to her.
A specialist had to be called in to do the surgery and it turned out that he only recommended doing the right leg for the time being and waiting to see how she walked on the left after her recovery. He told me that sometimes after they fix the one leg, the dog will realize that the other one hurts too, just that one was hurting less before the surgery.
We booked Paddington for surgery two weeks after our initial visit to the vet – three days after we moved into our first house and five days before Christmas. Merry Christmas Paddington, here’s some lovely surgery! Needless to say I was a wreck when I was told that not only was one knee affected, but both. There was no hesitation in my mind that doing the surgery was the right decision, even though some people tried to talk us out of it. She was in pain and we needed to fix it.
We dropped Paddington off early in the morning on surgery day. She was to be kept overnight and it was the first night we were at home overnight without her since she came into our lives. It was a hard day for me, I wanted to call the vet every 10 minutes but I resisted. Thankfully the specialist called to let me know she pulled through like a champ and was resting comfortably.
Recovery was hard, both for her and for me. It’s hard to see your dog in pain, you can’t explain it to them and you can’t just make it better, you just have to wait it out. The first night home was ok, but the following day she cried in pain any moment she was awake. I called the vet and it turned out that the pain patch she had on was actually making her feel MORE pain so it was removed and she was prescribed children’s liquid codeine which helped her pain a lot. It also made her quite dopey and tired which I didn’t mind because it meant she rested without moving.
One hard thing was that the specialist told me that she was not allowed to run, jump or play for 8 weeks. I will be honest with you and tell you that this did not happen – how do you stop an energetic dog from playing? We tried to keep it to a minimum level and made sure that her cone was on so she didn’t lick or pull out her stitches.
She healed well and I am very happy to report that she is using the stairs – we had to teach her how and it took a while, but she’s using them all by herself now! There have been no signs of her favouring the other leg, but we will always be watching for it. I give her a daily dose of liquid glucosamine that I mix in with a bit of yogurt every morning. This helps her joints and hopefully she will not have to have the other leg operated on.
I can’t say enough about our vet - everyone there was absolutely wonderful and was there for us even if we had a stupid question. They responded quickly to phone calls and emails and always made sure to ask how Paddington was recovering.
Paddington is doing so well and her hair is almost back to normal after being shaved up her entire right leg and thigh for the operation. She doesn’t care though, she’s just happy to run around and play.
If you have a dog that has been diagnosed with this ailment, please feel free to contact me and I will give you more information, including the name of the specialist who operated on her and the cost.