The last installment of healing our 11 year old German Shepherd Dog's torn ACL / CCL with zero surgery

8 weeks ago today on Wednesday November 14th 2018 at approximately 10:30 AM our 11 year old German Shepherd Zero was racing towards a ball running away from her on slick grass when she stopped short and tore her ACL/CCL. Over the next 8 weeks, following a lot of TigerPoz.com and Tiger's owners experience with ACL tears in dogs, we attempted a non surgical treatment of her torn knee ligament.

Check out Zero on day 11. (Almost 2 weeks in. Not the next day and not 3-4 days in. 11 days in. It was bad...)



And check out day 60 (Zero got to enjoy a little bit of snow) after careful confinement.



We had setbacks in between and we had a lot of progress. We went from the leg being held off the floor to her tapping it to her walking with it to her sitting down at the front door on her own on day 61.

We went from backyard bathrooms to front sidewalk walks to up and down the sidewalk to across the street and finally to up and down across the street. We did a 15 minute walk two days in a row (possibly a mistake that early) on day 52.

Also on day 61 we introduced sit stands for the first time (we had been discouraging any sits up until then). A 10 minute walk followed by 10 sit stands. Several 5 minute 'heel' walks (walking in circles) on a slight incline (to put the injured leg on the downside so it was forced to work) and a 2nd set of sit stands.

It was an amazing day. She was so much stronger and we were on our way.

Laying downstairs when it was time for bed we got up and Zero went out for one last bathroom break. She was beat. She had eaten roughly 1/2 of what we had for her on a regular day and we chalked that up to ... a lot of glucosamine and other crappy tasting stuff on there. (Keep them thin! She was 55 pounds on day 61 - 5 pounds lighter than on day 1. That is your 2nd must. 1st being containment - no running, no jumping, no stairs and no slippery surfaces.) But she wouldn't take her CBD oil either. And she loved it. We had to rub it on her lips. Up to bed she was panting a bit and we noticed her stomach breathing quickly as well. We're as conservative with docs as anyone (obviously) and yet we both said - let's go. And we went to the NorthStar Vets emergency room in Robbinsville NJ.

Triaged they saw that her gums were pale. Heart rate was up but pulse was weak. Doc said it indicated internal bleeding and that the color loss was more than anyone would typically see from any knee ligament tear. And this doc, Dr. Kanika Singleton, was a retired Army Vet. (An Army Vet vet for working dogs!)

In she went for ultrasound.

Zero had a mass on her heart (a pericardial effusion). Pericardiocentesis was ordered and performed. We got the call at 3AM. It was blood filled and there was a tumor.

Hemangiosarcoma cancer.

We got the 2nd call at 7AM. The mass had refilled. It was the worst of several scenarios. Blood filled. Hemangiosarcoma. And it was quick to refill. (Hemangiosarcoma is idiopathic. Very much isolated in dogs. When dogs decided to give up their prescribed evolutionary path and join us humans - things like this entered the picture. Genes interacting with the environment are what we currently believe this god damned cancer grows from. Seen in larger dogs (Golden Retrievers top the dreaded list) a textbook scenario would be an ultrasound finds the tumor on the spleen. A splenectomy is done and chemo is started. 6 months later they've died anyway. Zero didn't use tick and flea drops. Didn't have a chip. Drank filtered water. Great food. Had excellent supplements. Snacked on cabbage, green beans, carrots, lima beans and brussel sprouts. (Yes, brussel sprouts and cabbage.) Lived in a smoke free home. Didn't have chemicals on her lawn. Had rock solid blood work 3 months ago. (Had rock solid blood work right before the pericardiocentesis this night.) Exercised like a demon and rested like a pup who had exercised like a demon.

And she had cancer that was going to kill her.

10AM Tuesday January 15, 2019 we went in and had our last moments with her. Laying on the floor we sang (her song...) to her and she closed her eyes. The doctor administered Propofol 28 and she slowed further.

The last injection was given and she was dead.

And yet you can watch this video. Watch this video of Zero two days before, day 60 post CCL tear, and see her walking and looking to sprint towards us. You can read above how she did 20 sit stands 12 hours before she died. She was rough housing with us one hour before she suffered distress due to cancer.

We had such an outpouring of support after she left us we can't even come close to describing it so we will not. That's not the focus here anyway. The focus was on healing a dog with a torn ACL without surgery. And we were doing it. Actually, at 11 years and 3 months the activity we had on day 60 & for much of day 61 would have been quite enough for her to have had a wonderful quality of life knee wise. She had 14 or so hours of discomfort (the pain from the CCL tear days 1-10 was worse than that by a long shot) and the need to be in a hospital later that night because of hemangiosarcoma.

[Please check out the NATIONAL CANINE CANCER FOUNDATION's page on Hemangiosarcoma.]

And yet she had healed and was strengthening that knee ligament while she had deadly cancer. Imagine if we had opted to do TPLO surgery that first week. Imagine we had opted to do surgery last week after we experienced a setback! She would have gone through bone cutting while unbeknownst to everyone she was dying of cancer!

She was dying of cancer. Your dog is more than likely not dying of cancer as you read this. Go back and read the posts from 1 on. Watch those videos. Look at what Zero accomplished. You can heal your dog of a torn ACL or CCL on your own.

** Healing our 11 year old German Shepherd Dog's torn ACL / CCL with zero surgery Part 1 (weeks 1-4)

** Healing our 11 year old dog's torn ACL / CCL without surgery Part 2 (weeks 5-6)

** Healing our 11 year old dog's torn ACL / CCL with zero surgery Part 3 (week 7)

** Healing our 11 year old dog's torn ACL / CCL with zero surgery Part 4

** Healing our 11 year old dog's torn CCL without surgery Part 5

** The supplements we used to heal our dog's CCL tear without surgery

And, as Dr. James Cook told us when we asked if one had to rush and do surgery immediately as is so often told to worried owners in brightly lit vets' offices, you do not. Specifically addressing TightRope surgery Dr. Cook wrote, "TR can really be done anytime that you feel surgery is necessary."

So don't wait a week. Don't wait two weeks. Wait, as Tigger Poz tells us, at the very least 8 weeks. Christ wait the 8 weeks even if you're going to just be great parents and protect your pup from stairs, running, jumping and slippery floors.

Get them immediately on the ligament and joint supplements and let them at the very least get that rest. Not only do you have a good chance of seeing improvement - you may just heal them.

AND? You get to bond even tighter with that little goomba johnny of yours.

Watch this video again of day 11 v day 60. That's day 11 with that crappy need for that leg to be up in the air. Not the day of the tear. Not a week in as maybe your vet will recommend you wait. Day 11. And day 60 is before any rehab exercise has really begun to strengthen the muscles of the injured leg. It's after the 8 weeks of careful confinement that we've been detailing.



You can wait. You should probably wait. You can heal your dog's torn ACL / CCL without surgery. You can get them back to a pain free existence with rest alone. You can have walks again with them without the use of a bone saw.

Pain free walks. Check out that last video again. Zero wanted to run on our heel command - only stopped by us stopping her. Before any strength rebuilding in that right leg.

Take the time to confine your pup near you. You'll be with them more. You'll interact more. You'll love each other more. You'll most likely save them from the surgeon's saw and...you'll help your dog heal his or her torn ACL / CCL.

Because dogs can do amazing things.

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