Silk Road Spring 2013 - page 11

have been in pain this whole time and not shown it? The
thought was overwhelming.
“We had to get a specialist to look at her and perform
the surgery if LCP was the problem. I went into research
mode. I read every back issue of the
Silk Road
and came
up empty. I went online and read whatever I could find
about the disease, but there was no consensus about any-
thing except that the hip joint was damaged and must be
surgically repaired. There was a lot about big dogs, but
not very much about little ones, although it is common
in small breeds. Frustration was the word of the week
while we waited to see the surgeon. I did not know what
to expect. How would this all work out for Lola?
“A lady I happened to find online who had a Yorkie
with LCP proved to be an invaluable resource. With sur-
gery and physical therapy, Lola could live a normal life.
We just had to make sure she had the right care and were
committed to her recovery. There was a physical therapy
center 45 minutes away with a great reputation. With
new hope for Lola’s future, I researched the orthopedic
specialist to make sure he knew what he was doing to give
our little girl the best chance at a full recovery.”
Dionne calls back
I listened to the message at least five times and still I
could not believe it. There was a spot on the x-ray. Not
thickening or remodeling, but a spot. That meant
femoral head necrosis. Having worked only with humans
with this condition, I thought poor Lola would need a
joint replacement. As soon as the shock wore off, I went
into research mode. I already knew there was nothing in
Silk Road
because I have read every issue and did not
recall seeing an article on that subject. So I got on the
phone and called breeders I knew who had a puppy with
LCP or who owned one. They were actually far more in-
formative than what I found on the Internet for what I
needed, which was something to tell Cheryl about what
to expect.
First, there was no joint replacement to my great relief.
Because our dogs are small, the surgeon only removes
the femoral head and neck and does not replace the en-
tire joint. After surgery, the scar tissue forms a false joint
that enables the dog to function normally.
Second, the prognosis was good if the false joint
formed properly. Dogs that had undergone this opera-
tion were running around like nothing had happened by
one year after surgery. One was even doing agility. How-
ever, the road to recovery was long and required dedica-
tion on the part of the owners. Intense physical therapy
was needed for six months to make sure the false joint
would be fully functional.
Third, the cause was most likely a predisposition to
loss of the blood supply to the femoral head, which I
knew, but the mode of inheritance was unknown, which
I did not know. LCP can be caused by trauma that dis-
rupts the blood supply to the femoral head, but Cheryl
had said Lola had not suffered any trauma, so that meant
it was the way her blood vessels had formed.
Armed with this knowledge I called Cheryl. Some of
her questions I could answer, such as what was the cause
of the spot? An abnormality or latent defect that resulted
in the infarction of the blood vessels that feed the
femoral head and/or neck that eventually caused defor-
mity or death of the part of the femur supplied by the
affected vessels. Others I could not, such as were other
puppies out of these parents at risk? Anecdotally we
know that usually it is just one puppy in a litter that gets
LCP on one side and it seems totally random. Everyone
I talked to said that you never see it again if you don’t re-
peat the breeding. It is likely inherited, but we don’t know
how. Then we moved on to the most important part of
the conversation, Lola’s treatment.
I went over the importance of using a good surgeon
and she had that covered. I talked about the surgery itself
and what the doctor would be doing. I told her about the
water therapy that is used and how they would have to go
for every appointment and follow whatever home ther-
apy was recommended. She seemed like she was emo-
tionally and physically ready and could handle it.
We talked for a long time. I remembered how I had
thought there was something wrong before she went
home, even though pups that develop LCP appear per-
fectly normal early on, and Cheryl gently reminded me
that I had taken Lola to an orthopedist and had x-rays
taken so there wasn’t anything more I could have done. I
almost started crying again. I did when Cheryl said that if
Lola post-surgery
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