Until October 2002, Annie Redding and her dog Max trained once a week and practised over a few pieces of agility equipment at home nearly every evening. Then Max had a very bad accident and lost part of his hind leg. Amazingly that hasn't stop them doing agility. Now you should see the speed at which Max weaves! This is the story of a very brave dog!
Max, a Border Collie, was chosen by my mum as she liked his looks and thought that, as they were easily trainable, he’d be the perfect pet around the horses. Yes, they are energetic, but we have four acres of paddocks for him to play in. Besides his mother was the local Vicar's dog and walked beautifully past the house most days.
A difficult start
A few weeks later, he was behaving much better. Barbara suggested to further his training and to give him the confidence he’d never really had, he should try agility. My mum is no great runner so I decided to have a go. I signed up for as 6-week course to see what I thought.
I was taking a long bath one sunny autumn Sunday morning when my dad shouted up that he was taking Max down to the side paddock. I was pleased, because he loved to be with people and to herd the birds, I felt guilty taking a bath while he sat outside the door waiting for me to play ball.
Max was usually an angel. He never went too close to machinery so he couldn‘t have got hurt, could he? The next thing I remember is the sight of Max, lying in a pool of blood with his back right hand side paw hanging from a flap of skin. Then there was a panicked drive to the vets, standing in the vets while they prepared the operating theatre, trying to block out the words of the vet. She was detailing how they would remove his leg. The leg of my agility doggie. My Max. My little starlet. Then there was holding a drip above him, holding his paw while they carried him through, telling him how wonderful he was before having to leave him, knowing that the next time I saw him, if I saw him again (what about the anaesthetic? Would he make it through? Had he lost too much blood?), he would be missing the lower half of his leg. He’d just rip the stitches out if they just took off the paw, apparently. It seemed like days in that place.
When we got home, the whole house was silent. We’d lost our Poodle six months earlier so there was no dog in the house at all. We were all crying, even the neighbours came round in tears.
A couple of hours later we got a call to say he’s made it through the anaesthetic. I was to call at 10am the next day to see if he was ready to come home.
At 10am on the Monday morning I’m told he’s still on a drip and to try again at 4pm. They were the longest six hours of my life. I tried to keep busy, doing things that would have to be done, taking down his jumps, packing away his tunnel, but I just couldn’t bring myself to dismantle the weave frame. I’d bought it for him a couple of months before and it was the first full size piece of equipment we’d owned.
I called my trainer, Barbara Cooper to tell her what has happened and ask about Tellington touch. When I put the phone down, I sat on the floor for half an hour and sob uncontrollably. I decided to look on the web for information about amputee dogs and agility. I’ve found so much information about agility on there, a manufacturer of equipment only 25 miles away, shows and all the registration forms for him. There must be something to help? All I could find was a few American sites and all the pictures are of dogs missing front legs, none of them have lost their back leg like Max had.
I was finally able to collect him at 4 pm. When I walked in, the veterinary Nurse I had been talking on the phone to ten minutes earlier called for Max to be brought out. My legs went to jelly. I wanted to sit down, but I was too scared to move. I don’t think I could have moved if I wanted to. When he hopped out I sat on the floor of the waiting room and hugged him tightly and howled my head off. I felt a mix of absolute devastation and complete relief and gratefulness that he’s still alive. Max was sitting on my knee, a very upset and confused little dog. I picked him up and carried him out and drove him home - minus a leg.
When I carried him into the lounge, his ears perked up at the sight of his toy box. I sat him on the sofa and wrapped him in one of his blankets. He laid there with his head on my knee and a ball next to him. For what must be the first time in his life, he didn’t want to play.
Half an hour later, he heard my mum say ‘I’m going the check the horses’ and leapt off the sofa. He stumbled a bit but the thought of running round the yard was too appealing for it to bother him. He seemed relatively happy but as soon as he’s back in the house he went straight onto the sofa and wouldn’t move. He didn’t want eat or drink anything but I’d taught him to drink on command so that he always had a drink after agility training so at least I was able to get him to drink enough.
We also talked about his future. He’ll never be able to jump again at full height but may be able to go over small obstacles in the spring. Jeanette also suggested that he may make a good PAT (Pets As Therapy) dog as he’s so tactile. We talk about a suitable companion for him. I’d been considering another dog since our Poodle died but now he didn’t have agility training I felt a doggie companion was even more important.
When I took him home, we all noticed that he was visibly happier and moving about much more after his TTouch session.
returns to training
My trainer suggested he join in with the Gold Award Group for three training sessions. On the first session he seemed happy enough to be at his training ground and talked to a couple of other dogs. He excelled at the 'down, stay' and his instant stop was every good indeed after all that agility training, however he was not so impressed at being expected to run up to me and not go past!
The next week, however, I got him out of the car as usual and rather than trying to race off to the training field, he panicked and got back in the car. He didn't even want to go to doggie training. I took him anyway, hoping that he would cheer up once he saw the field and his trainer.
Besides, he'd made friends with a Rottweiler, and I was hoping having a friend would give him some more confidence. The Rottweiler didn't turn up that week, but for the last 20 minutes we got to practice commands using some of the agility equipment. He jumped three fences in a row on mini height, flew through the weaves then trotted very confidently over a lowered A-frame. He went home grinning from ear to ear!
The three training sessions made me realise that, because he could never return to agility training completely, he had to have a doggie companion. However, Max has always been a shy dog so anything assertive was out of the question and a very young puppy wouldn’t be suitable because it might send him flying.
Max now has a new friend, a Border Collie cross Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Lemmy who came from Wiccaweys Border Collie rescue. I started looking for a full Collie as a companion but when Sarah and Paul came to do the home inspection they brought 5 month old Lemmy along for the ride. He came and met Max in the paddock and they got on really well. Lemmy's got no common sense at all and is smaller than Max so was just what we were looking for!
Annie comes from Lincolnshire and works in Financial Planning.
For more information about TTouch, contact Jeanette Atkinson on jeanette@HealthGen.co.uk