A couple of weeks ago, Bubba started to limp a little on his right back leg. Mostly it was just a little stiffness when he's been lying still for a while. But last Wednesday while out for a short walk he started to limp really badly, unable to put any weight on the leg at all.
A trip to our local vet proved inconclusive, it was either a cruciate ligament injury or the onset of hip dysplasia. Both of these are ailments common to Golden Retrievers, and indeed Bubba has already had one cruciate ligament injury, to his other back leg, when he was just eighteen months old.
Today he has been to the specialists who have confirmed that he has ruptured his cruciate ligament completely. It is common for dogs with one damaged cruciate to also experience damage to the other, either because it is a genetic problem, or because they overcompensate for the weakness in the one leg by using the other leg more. However this repeat injury would normally occur fairly soon after the original injury. Bubba's rupture has happened five years after the original operation. So we're not sure what the exact cause is.
The remedy however is plain. He must have another TPLO surgery. This is a procedure which changes the angle of the tibial plateau by removing a section of bone and plating the leg back together. There's a full explanation of it here for those who like the science. It means he won't have full use of his leg for some weeks and will be on a very strict regime of very little exercise, no climbing stairs, no getting on the sofa etc. Even the step by the back door may be a problem and we may need to construct a ramp. He mustn't, to begin with, even cross the kitchen floor (which is tiled) on his own in case he slips. Then it's a long slow progress back to fitness with hydrotherapy and gently increasing walks. Last time we went through this with relatively few problems and I'm hoping it will be the same this time, but he's older now and doesn't have the same bouncebackability he did then. The operation has a 90% chance of success, meaning he should return to something like full mobility, though he will be susceptible to arthritis in later life. There is really no alternative that gives him the chance at a continued active life.
His surgery is scheduled for Friday, so keep your fingers crossed for him won't you. We know he'll be in good hands but sometimes these things are in the lap of the gods.