The beginning of Wall-e's class yesterday was amazing. We ran the first exercise beautifully. He ran hard through his weaves and watched my signals perfectly. (I ran him at 10" because we were at a fun match on Sunday.)
But the next exercise involved an angled approach to the teeter. I didn't think it would be a problem. I pushed into his path a bit to help him get on straight. He got on at just a bit of an angle, but not too bad, and then slipped off halfway across. I brought him around in a loop to take a couple of jumps and try the teeter again, which he did fine. He ran the rest of the exercise great.
The last exercise started with the dog walk, then went into a curved tunnel, and then finished from the tunnel to a table. I started Wall-e from the jump before the DW, so that he could get some speed onto the DW. I knew that something was up when he cantered slowly up the DW, then trotted across the horizontal and down planks. He *never* trots across the horizontal plank! I rewarded him and stopped running. My first thought was: knee. Wall-e was lame in his rear left leg back in April.
Sure enough, when I got home, I saw that Wall-e was limping, favouring one of his rear legs. It was hard to tell which one it was while he was walking, but when I did a soundness test I saw that he was putting more weight on his right rear leg than his left, and when I picked up his rear legs his right leg felt heavier. That could only mean that something was up with his left rear leg....
I watched the video clip of the spill off the teeter and he definitely hyper-extended his left rear leg. Though it's hard to see, it looks like he might have banged his left knee against the teeter base as he slipped off. The left rear leg was the one that stayed on the teeter the longest. From what I've read, cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears often happen on teeter or dog walk spills with the rear leg that stays on the obstacle the longest.
I'm pretty sure this time that it's his CCL (which is part of the knee/patella) that's the problem. With Ashley's help, I've been thinking up a plan for his recovery. It's a lot like what I did last time, but this time I'm going to include swimming (Ashley's idea) in the plan. This week will be rest, with daily massage. Next week will be very short walks and swimming sessions.
Week 3 will be 15 minute walks, conditioning exercises focused on strengthening the rear legs (using Dr. Chris Zink's recommendations from her book The Agility Advantage). Also, short daily agility sessions with no turns involved and only straight tunnels, 6" jumps, and tables (another one of Chris Zink's suggestions). We'll see about swimming. By then it'll be September and it could be too chilly. Week 4 will be 30 minute walks, continuing conditioning exercises (I'll hopefully do these for the rest of his life). And short daily agility sessions with slight turns, and all obstacles except the A-frame and weaves. (At least 50% of jumps at 6" and no more than 50% at 10".) Week 5 will be up to 45 minute walks, conditioning exercises, and agility sessions with all obstacles. (But still 50%-50% of 6" and 10" jumps. I think that's a good idea anyway, for any dog.) Finally, Week 6 will be the same except with 60 minute walks.
I entered Wall-e in two Starters Jumpers runs on September 12. I was going to start running him in 16" at this trial, but entered him in 10" again instead because of this. I'm not sure if he'll be good to run by then. Starters courses don't involve sharp turns (or at least, they shouldn't) and are only 15-17 obstacles. I'll see how he is. We might not be able to finish our set of classes, though, because they end on September 6. Maybe we'll be able to do the last one, but we'd skip the AF and weaves and I would run him at 6".
I think Wall-e's knee (or whatever it is) will always be weak, but considering that he is still putting weight on it, I really don't think the situation is right now. The vet didn't even see a problem when I brought him in in April, 3 weeks after he started showing lameness. Anyway, we'll take it as it goes.