It was March 2009 when Troy and I brought our second Rottweiler home, this time an eight week old male. We talked to a plethora of people about raising this puppy as close to perfect as we could. Our vet was very informative with a very favorable reputation in our community in that they are the primary service providers for the Orlando Police department canine unit.
Because we had been warned to get an early neuter to prevent Freddie from raising his leg to pee, after five months, we asked for the surgery. Everything went well and after a year we decided to adopt another more active puppy, a Boston Terrier, whom we named Ziggy. Layla, our oldest rottie, turned out to be Freddie’s half-brother, by accident, because when their mother was in heat, one of the breeder’s males was able to inseminate her, and thus our Freddie boy was born.
Freddie is a wonderful dog being social and loving towards people. He runs to our neighbor’s front door on a regular basis hoping she’ll let him in to visit. All of our neighbors comment how friendly Freddie is to them and they love him. After both Ziggy and Layla experienced leg joint problems that Glucosamine fixed, we were blessed to see Freddie have no symptoms of any problems. In addition to leg problems, Layla had a thyroid problem that took months to recover, and we were pleased to see her return to a normal lifestyle and energy.
But then one day on a family walk when he was a little over 5 years old, Freddie yelped, fell to the ground, then jumped up with a wounded right rear leg. We were shocked. We walked home and made an appointment with the vet only to learn that it appeared he had sprained his muscle. The symptom was that he held his leg off the ground and hobbled on three legs when walking. The vet recommended we give it some time to see if it returns back to normal. He never told us to limit walks or playing, so we continued to do so with no improvements.
During the next couple months, we continued to walk the dogs on a regular basis but Freddie never regained his leg use. Then one day, totally unexpectedly, he yelped while lying still on the couch. That was the last time we took his injury lightly and repeated a trip to the vet.
During this visit, the vet surgeon, who had not inspected Freddie before, suggested we take him to a specialist surgeon who could perform an operation on the leg to realign his cruciate ligament (CCL, like ACL in humans). Since we had an X-ray exam the first time we visited the vet, we knew it had to be something more than just a sprained muscle. Then we got serious about researching this problem and not relying on the vet diagnosis.
It was during our research, we found many articles about conservative management before considering surgery. Following the vet’s advice, we scheduled a surgeon appointment for a few days in the future but filled our heads with anecdotal evidence. One author claimed to refute most “scientific” facts, as in the article at the link below.
Others went as far as to say that early neutering changed the hormonal levels that would help bone and tissue development had they not been neutered earlier in life, as in the article below.
At this point, it was too late for the conservative care before the surgeon appointment. We listened to the surgeon tell us that we should have surgery soon before it advanced into a worse condition. After the surgeon told us of three options, we decided to wait for 8 weeks to see if Freddie regained his leg functioning.
The three options included the following and their estimated pricing.
More can be learned from the article below. What offended me most was that everything we read said TPLO would never work for large dogs and is a waste of money. The surgeon responded that she was offering all the options. But that was not an option and would be deceitful to those not knowing the difference.
During our 8-week rehabilitation period, we refrained from walking Freddie. Because he whines for unknown reasons we call him a “Rott-wheiner” and for that reason we chose not to confine him from jumping up on the bed or couch, as articles suggested. He ran in the yard occasionally for short distances but outside that, he was restricted for 8 full weeks from his normal walks.
Since Christmas eve 2014, Freddie has now been walking daily that includes off-leash running, jumping, and climbing and declining down 45 degree hills. His leg shows very few symptoms and appears normal. We feed him a Glucosamine tablet once a day, mainly for precaution.
We have now learned that neutering should be after the dog is full grown and that our Boston Terrier, whom we never neutered, has not run off seeking a female in heat. We hope that this article helps others with a difficult decision to butcher their dog and that patience worked for us. It is a sad reflection on the animal healthcare profession where mutilating an animal by a human is acceptable, even if they cannot guarantee it won’t happen again.
on 25 September 2016, Freddie died of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, a rare disease caused by bacterial infection usually fatal within 24 hours. This was another lesson learned the hard way, to watch him die in our arms, hopelessly. However, once he recovered from the CCL, he never had a problem again for the rest of his life.