Toby, The Golden Retriever

7.12.2019


Toby without his brace takes a break on the trail.

What can you say about the Golden Retriever? Only that it’s the third most popular breed based upon recent AKC registration. They’re great with children, they love playing fetch; they are gentle, intelligent, reliable - and breed owners go on and on. Counted among the dogs we have met during our walk, the “Golden” as I affectionately call them have been some of Chloe’s best friends. 

One such Golden is Toby. We’ve known him forever, or at least it seems like that to Chloe who was just a young pup during their first encounter. Gentle and friendly are two words that perfectly describe Toby at almost 13 years of age. 

A little over two years ago, Toby almost succumbed to a very serious leg injury when he jumped out of the family car for a hike in the mountains. It was an action Toby had performed hundreds of times before without incident, but on this occasion, he landed awkwardly upon impacting the ground. 

With a loud piercing yelp, Toby had instantly suffered a torn cranial cruciate ligament or CCL to his hind leg. It’s a tear that’s often compared to a human’s ACL injury. The CCL in a dog connects the back of the femur (bone above the knee) with their tibia (bone below the knee). 

Expensive surgery has been the prescription for such a tear, but it’s not a guaranteed fix, and it’s a long-term commitment for both the dog, and the owner during the healing process. Surgery on a CCL is an invasive procedure that can involve breaking the bones of the injured leg to heal the ligament. It seems counterintuitive when you think about, and it’s the primary reason that it’s being replaced with more conservative solutions.

A specially engineered brace for a CCL injury - similar to the brace worn by Toby.
Image courtesy of Animal Ortho Care

Depending upon the severity of the CCL injury, alternatives can include physical therapy, controlled exercise, acupuncture, medicinal herbs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a specially designed leg brace, and other similar forms and combinations of treatment. Toby’s family considered these options, with the choice being a hind leg brace that had recently come to market with good results.

From that moment forward, we often greeted Toby and his engineered leg brace, and for many months, he wore the device without a misstep on the trail. Today, Chloe and I rarely see Toby wearing the brace and although his walking stride has become slower - we’re told it’s more a result of his age, then to his injury.

Toby and Chloe on the trail.

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