At Embrace, we see a lot of cruciate ligament claims and every single one of them has involved surgery until Rich told us the story about his remarkable dog and I just had to share it with you.
Ski's injury occurred before Ski was covered by an Embrace policy so let this be a lesson to you - get your dog insurance before you have the CL injury, not after!
So, in Rich's words, here is Ski's story:
Ski is a very good dog with remarkable energy. He obtained his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) award at just over one year old. At that time I looked for something to challenge his intelligence and energy, ultimately deciding on Agility competition.
His injury was not due to Agility, but rather a stupid accident on our nightly walk in which I stepped on his foot and he pulled away with all his strength because of the pain, resulting in torn ligaments in his knee. This was sudden extreme trauma to the knee of a dog in the very best physical condition.
While waiting for an MRI before surgery, I remembered that at the Agility camp, he had a mini consultation with an individual listed as one of the "Ten Top Veterinarians in the Chicago Area". Chicago has a lot of vets, so that accolade is not insignificant.
After her examination of Ski, X-rays, and other data, Dr. Mayer of Integrative Pet Care (IPC) felt that because of his strength, stamina, drive, and overall physical condition, he was an excellent candidate of recovery through therapy, rather than surgery, though she mentioned that reasonable doctors could disagree on the prognosis. However, she's the best and this is her specialty, so we took a chance. Thus, we began a strenuous regime of physical therapy, both at IPC and at home every single night.
Since that day, Ski has worked harder than any dog they've ever seen. His recovery has been called "nothing short of remarkable". He now runs weekly on the land treadmill at 35 or 40mph (according to the gauge, though that still seems impossible to me), in addition to more than a dozen other land-based exercises. He is master of the underwater treadmill. He has progressed to the point that not only is he walking on a inclined underwater treadmill to the maximum time they allow any dog, but we've started putting the jets toward him at full force, so it's like he's walking upstream with the salmon against a raging current. He also has more fun than any other dog they see (see the video below.)
Three months ago Dr. Mayer gave her approval for Ski to re-enter Agility training, to challenge him further and give him an outlet for his limitless energy. The restriction is that he now jumps hurdles at 8" rather than 24", though I think he easily could.
Since his injury, I've talked to at least a hundred people with dogs with CCL injuries, as well as vets and medical professionals. I understand how common it is for the other leg to go out within a year. That's why our goal is to make each leg strong enough to do the work of two, when it is needed. I think we're getting close, judging from his bulging muscles.
His recovery is so impressive that one of the doctors at IPC has asked for permission to use Ski in a case study of what can be accomplished after a CCL injury. Obviously, many CCL injuries have a degenerative soft tissue disease playing a part, but that is clearly not the case with Ski. So, my hope, and my belief, is that he WILL beat the odds. That all the hard work of Ski, Dr. Mayer, IPC Staff, and myself will be rewarded with Ski living a healthy and active life until the age of 15 or 20. Sounds crazy, perhaps, but my last Rottie lived to 14, and he wasn't in this good shape.