I know everyone feels their family pet is the best pet in whole wide world and well, they should! For me to say my Riley is the bravest, strongest, hardest-working Labrador out there would be an understatement….For the past year and a few months, Riley has gone from being knocked down, literally, not being able to walk or get around (lameness both hind legs at one point), to being able to take hikes, run through a field in a new-kind-of-way, go on canoe rides, swim in lakes, and so much more. Riley is a fighter and is where he is today because of the dedication, experience and compassion of Dr. Robinson, Lis Conarton and Dr. Burnett.
I knew from the moment I held Riley in my arms at six weeks old he was going to change my life. Riley is a purebred lab and he came into our lives with the understanding that both his parents were healthy and had no history of medical or physical issues. Riley was active as most lab puppies are right from the start and at six months old we noticed he was walking a “bit” funny and sure enough, he had elbow dysplasia in one of his front elbows. However after two medical exams it was determined he had the type of dysplasia that was caused by the way his two bones grew together and there really wasn’t anything to be fixed. We were like “whoa” and figured, well, if that’s the worst thing that happens to Riley, we can handle it because Riley was happy and was still able to do his “Riley-thing.”
Memorial Day, 2015 is a day, a moment in time, I will never forget. I had come home from a bike ride and was in the back yard with my husband, and the kitchen door must have blown open. Riley heard my voice and wanted to be at my side as quickly as possible. Riley leapt out the door, over two steps, and must have landed wrong, because the next thing we knew from the back yard is we heard a cry that a dog owner NEVER wants to hear in their lifetime, and we soon saw our Riley dragging himself into the backyard. Despite his agonizing pain he wanted to be at my side. He is my boy and I will never forget his face, his cry and instantaneously Riley’s short life, he was just four, flashed before me. He needed help and he needed it right away.
The VMC came into my life, into Riley’s life that day. Dr. Robinson examined Riley and confirmed he had torn his rear left CCL and that he would need surgery to repair the damage. Three days later, not knowing Dr. Robinson or his staff, I put my boy in their care, and I am glad I did. Riley had TPLO surgery and he did great! At that moment I had no idea how challenging, how difficult it would be to rehabilitate a 100 pound lab who used to run fields, jump logs, and swim rivers. Riley, after surgery, with the support of a tech, came into a room with no hair on his hind quarter, very tired, but so happy to see me. I remember sitting on the floor with Riley with a blanket for quite some time. The VMC did not rush me out. They let me just lay with Riley because he needed me. Riley was there for two nights and then he came home to begin his healing.
When Riley was six weeks into healing, we came for a re-check, and Dr. Robinson confirmed the bone was healing, but had not fully healed. He said that he could start physical therapy. Riley met Lis a day or two after that. When he walked in to see Lis she asked if the right had the surgery and I said, “No, the left.” A day later, Riley was on a very slow, short walk with me down a path into a field at my parent’s farm and he collapsed. He cried out, just as awful as the last time. I knew what had happened. Time stopped for me as I went to the ground holding Riley. His rear right CCL had torn along with the meniscus this time. The left leg was weeks from being healed, and Riley lay in the field with two rear legs in bad shape, total lameness. To say the VMC was supportive when we rushed Riley there would be an understatement. I cried, they gave me the time I needed to cry, and to accept the reality. After two long weeks of waiting and good pain management, Dr. Robinson, performed a second TPLO surgery on Riley’s rear right leg.
Riley’s second surgery was early August of 2015 and by October Riley was back to see Lis, this time with two newly repaired hind legs. It was overwhelming at first with all the exercise suggestions, and massage techniques, but Lis was patient, always a listener, and above all, compassionate. Lis suggested we meet with Dr. Burnett because Riley had been through a lot and was dealing with a good amount of pain and it was affecting his rehabilitation progress. Dr. Burnett was phenomenal and got Riley in a comfortable place so his body was able to begin healing with limited amounts of pain and discomfort.
It has been about a year and half since Riley’s first TPLO surgery and he has experienced some hiccups along the way. Through it all, Lis and Dr. Burnett have been there for Riley and he is in such a great place now. Riley is a new version of Riley, now, after all, he has two rods, one in each rear leg with six screws each. But, what hasn’t changed through it all is Riley’s spirit, determination and fight. Riley has fought his way to be where he is today and couldn’t have done it without the support of the VMC of CNY.
Riley continues to do laser and hydrotherapy with Lis on a monthly basis and does re-checks with Dr. Burnett every 3 months. He takes Duralactin, Tramadol, Gabapentin and Omega-3 Oil Supplements daily to help with discomfort and arthritis/inflammation management. Thank you Lis! Thank you Dr. Burnett! And thank you to all of the staff who have reached out and touched my heart and Riley’s heart throughout this journey. Riley is back to “living the life of Riley, again!”
~The Schultz Family