On Saturday the dogs got to go to Virginia to see Dr. Schwabe for an initial structural evaluation. Neither of them have had any problems (other than knowing that Miles has mild elbow dysplasia) so this was just to get established and make sure everything was looking good with them. The office is located on a beautiful piece of property situated in the country not too far from Lynchburg.
Not knowing what to expect, I brought Rue in first since I knew she’d be fine with pretty much anything that happened. Plus that gave me a chance to see what Dr. Schwabe was going to do so that I wasn’t worried for Mr. Softie (Miles). As expected Rue went with the flow and was a perfect patient. Dr. Schwabe started by watching her move off lead and then proceded to bring her inside and have her do several tricks (sit-up, stand, lie down, back-up, bow) all to see how she moved her body and if she was balanced. Then she proceded to do a full ortho exam followed by a massage/chiro adjustment. Rue weighed 36.8lbs and according to the Dr. is “built like a Border Collie”, hehe! She said that Rue was perfectly proportioned with excellent muscle tone and body awareness. She feels that Rue is structurally perfect for agility (and any other sport that I’d want to do with her) and is built for speed. In other words, Rue’s perfect 🙂
Next up was Miles and as is typical of him, he came out of the vehicle like a spaz. Bouncing up and down and sideways, skittering about from person to person and giving flying kisses. I couldn’t get him to just walk/trot around at all…just bounce. Plus since he was nervous, he was holding himself very stiffly so you can imagine her opinion of him initially was a bit swayed. Thankfully, Miles took an almost instantaneous liking to Dr. Schwabe so he eventually was able to settle in and be “normal”. Overall, he weighed 53.7lbs and she says that he’s built a bit like a horse (so I guess I have a horse and a BC) and holds his head very high…probably because he’s always on the lookout for boogeymen not unlike how a horse or other prey animal is. She said that his back and hind end, including his tail, were very very strong. She also found no evidence of any issues in his elbows 🙂 However, what she did find are weak and overly flexible shoulders, particularly on the left. He had some significant muscle spasm under both shoulder blades, in his neck, and also in his sacrum. She was able to work most of that out and amazingly Miles seemed to totally not mind it at all (and she said it had to hurt).
Dr. Schwabe also watched him do a couple of aframes which she said were great and no issue with the shoulders as well as watched him do the weaves. She thinks he’s very smart to not single-stride in the weaves because that would be putting way too much stress on his shoulders. So my hunch was right about that…..it had to be something structural that kept him doing a bounce stride despite multiple attempts on my part to retrain the poles. During this time, Miles became more and more relaxed and in the end showed the Dr. a much more normal appearing gait for him. She was definitely relieved to see that he actually did move quite well 😉
We spent a lot of time talking about Miles and coming up with a conditioning plan for him to keep him sound and strengthen his front end. I’ve now got a bunch of new tricks to teach him and some other fun things to help with shoulder strength and stretching. We also switched his glucosamine supplement to Dasuquin. I’m also going to start doing some cavaletti work to see if I can get him to lower his head while trotting, similar to what you would do if your horse (poor Miles, hehe) kept a very high head placement. Miles is also going to be getting massaged regularly now, lucky guy!
In summary, my biggest take home message for him is to always err on the side of caution and that with him less is always more. So, if the surface is slick I should probably not run him, etc. I will need to limit the number of trials we do to no more than 3/month and should avoid doing 3-day multiple run trials (like USDAA). I can say that I’m very glad that I have Rue to run now because it will help me to fill the void of maybe not being able to run him as much as I would like. Then again, we’ve never done that many runs in a day for days in a row, so this probably isn’t going to be too much of a shock.
We go back in 6 months for a recheck 🙂