Hello, FM here. Drake and I apologize for the long time since our last update. Over the past 6 weeks, FM had to do some traveling for work, we've had snowstorms, floods, oh and a little pneumonia (FM, not Drake) thrown in for good measure, so things have been busy.
We learned yesterday that Drake has a congenital issue in his elbow. The fancy medical name for it is fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP) disease. It is, unfortunately, not an uncommon problem in large-breed dogs and is something that a responsible breeder should be testing for - much like hip dysplasia. FMCP results from uneven growth, when a dog is young, of the bones around the elbow joint, that results in a constant, uneven pressure on the end of one of those bones (the ulna) right at the joint. This pressure causes the end of this bone to fragement or chip off. This loose fragment, in turn causes pain, wears away the cartilage, and results in arthritis and lameness - especially over time. Although the process starts when a dog is young, it is not always detected right away. Sometimes, if it is detected early enough, surgery can be done to remove the bone fragments in an effort to prevent the arthritic changes in the joint.
In Drake's case, we had noticed a few (maybe 3?) instances where he seemed to limp and favor his left, front leg after he had been lying down for a bit. The limping never lasted more than 5-10 minutes. As the weather has gotten better and Drake has been more active we've noticed more limping. Last week he had an episode where he refused to put any weight on that leg at all and hopped around on 3 legs for while. I made a vet appointment the next day, where x-rays revealed the FMCP. So our current plan is to get him established on Rimadyl and some Cosequin and to see how he does over the next few weeks. In the meantime, we've decided to change Drake's status to unavailable until we've had a chance to see how he does on the Rimadyl and more "normal" level of activity now that the weather is warmer and he's outside more with the other dogs.
Aside from this elbow issue, Drake has continued to progress. He has started to really trust FD and readily goes over to see him with his tail wagging, rather than slinking over with his tail beween his legs. He still startles if you move towards him too quickly, especially if you have something in your hand such as a newspaper, remote control or book. Drake loves, loves, loves his walks! He has learned that when the leashes come out, it's time to do the happy dance with everyone else. He continues to be camera-shy but I have noticed that I can get one or two quick shots in before he gets "concerned", so I consider that progress!
With the weather slowing getting better, we've taken the pack over to the dog park a couple of times. Drake really seems to enjoy running around! He chases the ball, but doesn't seem to know what to do (or maybe he doesn't care?) with it once he gets to it. He just happily runs in another direction. He doesn't seem too interested in socializing with other dogs or people at the park, but he also doesn't exhibit any agressions or fear around other dogs - he's pretty neutral about them. He continues to be a little bit frightened in the car, but he jumps right into the back seat now without any hesitation - even if he's the only dog in the car. When we first got him, we had to pick him up and put him in the back seat.
The other thing that Drake has discovered is how to get up on the couch and also our bed. He's almost always on the couch now, next to me with his head on my lap. He seems to just bask in the comfort of being close. When I was sick and was spending a lot of time in resting, Drake seemed to enjoy joining me on the bed and keeping me cozy and warm - what a good boy! He never showed any protectiveness of his space and always made room for the other dogs.
The other thing that has been going on in Drake's life is that he has had a family interested in him for the past few weeks. The family was planning to come all the way to Fargo from Iowa to meet Drake this weekend, but we've had to put those plans on hold for now until we see how Drake does with his elbow. I'm hopeful that with some the Rimadyl (not an expensive medication) and some gentle exercise or walks, that Drake will do okay, and we won't see him limping very often.
In the meantime, Drake heard a rumor from Zeke and Zoe, that there may be some special bunnies hopping around tomorrow, so he's going to rest up to get ready!