Meet Cowboy, our March 2019 Pet of the Month. We initially met Cowboy through an adorable photo and medical report as one of our clients was interested in adopting him. He was a special needs puppy with a rescue group in Minnesota. He had bilateral congenital front limb deformities, involving his wrists and paws, called ectrodactyly. We advised that Cowboy would need more veterinary care, including rehabilitation, over his lifetime and she was comfortable with that information. We could tell that it was love at first site for his mom, so we looked forward to meeting him after his adoption.
We met Cowboy officially in July 2017 after his adoption and a visit to Michigan State University for a complete orthopedic evaluation and a long series of radiographs (x-rays). At that visit, his ectrodactyly was documented thoroughly, but they also found that he had bilateral hip dysplasia. Additionally, he had bilateral Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD), meaning that the cartilage in his shoulders had defects and would require surgery to remove the abnormal tissue. Undeterred, Cowboy started his rehabilitation journey with us knowing that there would be a lot of work to do.
Cowboy started his rehabilitation with very gentle floor exercises and underwater treadmill work along with massage. With open growth plates as a puppy, he could not have laser therapy or some of the other treatment modalities that we often use with adult dogs. He had his OCD surgeries on both shoulders in September 2017 returning to rehabilitation shortly afterwards. We saw him regularly over the next 6 months with the plan to potentially develop an orthotic device(s) for his deformed carpal joints and paws if needed. In order to create an orthosis that will fit for life, we needed him to be close to full grown.
By February 2018, Cowboy had built muscle mass and was enjoying life, but his left front limb was bothering him more consistently due to the abnormal carpus and wrist joint. Additionally, that limb was functionally a little shorter than the right limb because his weight bearing toe on the left limb was starting to collapse down. Cowboy was casted for a custom orthosis to support and cradle his left paw and toes, stabilize his wrist joint, and also give a little height to his left limb to correct his limb length discrepancy. He was fitted with his special shoe in early April 2018 and he took to it quite well. Just by wearing it, he was able to stand with his shoulders and spine more level. Once he was used to using his orthosis regularly, he could go for longer walks and play more.
Cowboy has continued with periodic rehabilitation visits to monitor his progress, muscle mass and orthosis over time. Our goals for his rehab have changed with his needs. At this time, we will continue to work with him to maintain strong hip, thigh and shoulder muscles (due to his hip dysplasia and prior shoulder surgeries) along with maintaining his core muscles so that he can enjoy a long, happy, pain-free life.
Since we met Cowboy, he has become a certified ESA (Emotional Support Assistance) dog. He also has his own Instagram account called “A Cowboy’s Tale”. Keep an eye on our social media sites as Cowboy visits them periodically too!