Do dog handlers have more back surgeries than golfers? Is breed size a factor? Lifting table breeds, running with side-gait breeds, training giant breeds?
SHOWING DOGS WHEN YOUR BONES ARE AGING
Sherry Shivley, 2014 Journalist Award
There are many options for those of us who love the Sport of showing our dogs. We are athletes, we lift, carry, run, stop quickly, pivot, bend, stoop, kneel, and do many feats Pro Athletes would never think of.
Breeder-exhibitors chase wayward puppies and then run them in circles day after day. Grooming Poodles and other furry pups takes much of the day, standing in one spot and using repetitive motions with your shoulders, back and wrists. Being pulled hither and yon by beasts that weigh twice what you do so they can check out the cute little Maltese three rings away.
Our bodies - and joints - take a beating. As we age, there just isn’t enough Ibuprofen to relieve all those aches. At my last dog show I was limping around the ring. I could not bend over and it felt as though my ankle was going to give out. I handed the leash to my good friend Janine Leoni and decided I had to find someone to help me.
I began my research the next day which led me to Western Orthopedics in Denver Colorado. I made an appointment with Dr. Timothy Birney who turned out to be a Miracle Worker! After looking at my X-Rays and MRI, he did hands on testing, bending, lifting, feeling. Turns out my lumbar spine had narrowing (stenosis) with slipped discs. Because of the instability my spine looked like a reversed C.
For all you breeders and dog show enthusiasts, here was my solution. Dr. Birney uses the Dynesys Dynamic Stabilization System. Instead of solid fusing, these pedicle screws allow for bending and turning. I wouldn’t have to say Goodbye to my dog shows!!
It is very important to choose a Sports Medicine Doctor because their job is to get athletes back in the game as quickly as possible. They understand that dog show exhibitors are athletes with schedules, deadlines, and aspirations just like all sports competitors.
I had my surgery done on May 25th and came home on the 27th. I took oral pain medication at night to sleep, and was off them completely in 2 weeks. For exercise, I was on the treadmill, starting out at a mile, then increasing it to 2 miles. I began alternating a fast mile with a longer slower 2 miles every other day.
I began doing things I was told NOT to do (and I do not recommend this) NO BENDING, NO TWISTING, NO LIFTING – Shhh, don’t tell Dr. Birney!
At my 6 week checkup my x-ray showed 8 huge screws and everything healing. I was given exercises to do, which I do faithfully each day. I went back in another 6 weeks to see how my healing was continuing.
I could not be happier with my outcome. If you are having pain, don’t suffer. Find the right doctor!
If you show a small dog or toy breed you may be ruining your knees. If you aren’t kneeling on the mat, you are stooping, lifting, then standing up. In the future you’ll probably have a new knee made from an amazing 3D model of your knee. Hip dysplasia? Just kidding but truly, polyethylene has slowed implant wear for hips by replacing metal which actually caused bone loss.
So many new and exciting procedures are on the horizon. As we age, there is no reason for us to give up the things we love because of pain or restricted psychical ability. Take charge of your health and enjoy all life has to offer.
To learn more about my particular procedure at Western Orthopedic in Colorado, go to www.western-ortho.com and click on Patient Education > choose spine and scroll down under Patient Education Videos for the Dynamic Stabilization video showing how the surgery is done. Choose from the same drop-down (mentioned above) having to do with any other part of the body you are having trouble with and learn about other surgeries they do. If you are in a different part of the country, go online and look for Dynamic Stabilization surgery in (your state).
See ya around the ring!